Ask Rene:
The Wedding Never Happened.. What About My Gift?

My cousin was going to be married in 2010. I received an invitation to the wedding. I wasn’t able to attend because of a previously planned event, but I sent $200 in the form of a gift card to a store where my cousin and fiancé were registered. For reasons that I don’t know, the wedding was called off. Now, my cousin is getting married in December to a different man. Am I expected to take a gift? I know it’s a different wedding, but she did not return the other gift. I didn’t ask her about it, so I can only assume that she used the gift card.

Signed me 

Properly Perplexed in Pittsburgh


Dear PPiP:

Ah yes, etiquette and money, a couple of my favorite topics (and when I say favorite…I mean not). Sadly both of those things seem to be in short supply nowadays. Okay, so let’s dive right into this one. Here’s how I would handle this potentially uncomfortable situation and what I suggest you do too.



According to etiquette expert Peggy Post, cash gifts should be returned if a marriage goes south within a month or two of tying the knot. So, one would think they should definitely be returned if the nuptials never happen. Common sense right? Sadly common sense is not so common these days with people operating under the, “If it feels good, do it” principle. Let’s assume your cousin was not as inconsiderate as she was shaken by the break-up and that the return of your gift was one of those things she forgot.

Read more: Ask Rene: My Mother-in-Law Thinks Saltines Are  A Meal! What Should I Do?


Money as a gift with red bow and yellow envelope

You have a couple of choices. You could ask about the last wedding gift (discreetly and in advance of the new wedding), you could stay home or you could suck it up and go. Personally I would go with C and here’s why. Sometimes convention dictates that we just be polite and I think now is one of those times. If you assume your cousin did this without malicious intent, it’s much easier. Then perhaps, years later, over a fine bottle of wine, you can ask, “Hey remember that first wedding gift…?”

Or not.

Read more: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: An Unvarnished Look Inside A Real Marriage 



I don’t know why your cousin didn’t return the cash but I imagine it had something to do with the fact that she was probably reeling from the bust up of what she thought was going to be her happily ever after. So who knows what she spent your 200 bucks on; maybe a night on the town, a gift for herself or perhaps a therapy session. Either way, think of it as a step to help her heal. You did a good thing.

Read more: What’s Love Got To Do With It? 19 Lessons In 19 Years Of Marriage 


And with regard to this wedding upcoming; yes, in my humble opinion, you should go ahead and give another gift. This is a different, time, place, spouse-to-be, union, so go ahead and pony up. You don’t have to give as much, if you don’t want to, but don’t go empty-handed.

Okay, that’s my advice; what say you GEMnation? What should she do? Suck it up and move on? Have you ever been in a situation like this? What did you do?

Weigh in here or over on the Facebook page.

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