Preferably, wedding gifts should be given just before or just after the ceremony. If you cannot attend the wedding, it's always best to err on the side of caution and send the gift by post (and insure it if it's valuable!) so that it arrives at least two days before the wedding is to take place. However, don't send a gift right after you receive an invitation -- just in case the wedding is postponed, or even cancelled.
If you will be attending the wedding, on most occasions there will be a reception table where you can place the gift.
Contrary to some beliefs, it's not polite to wait up to a year after the wedding to get the couple a gift. At best, if you're not able to give your wedding gift before or during the wedding, try not to wait more than three months after the ceremony to give the new couple your heartfelt present.
If your friends live out of town then you can ask and tell them you apologize, but with the way the mail service is you wanted to be sure if they did send a gift that you wanted to be sure to let them know you got it. If your friends live near you then 'no' you do not ask if they have sent your son a wedding gift. Sometimes people send wedding gifts on the late side. Your son and his bride should know by the wedding cards if they received a gift from your two friends or not. If your friends weren't invited to the wedding then it is up to their own discretion to give a wedding gift or not.
* If you know the couple fairly well and had to decline for a good reason then yes, etiquette steps in here and you should send them a wedding gift. You could send them a wedding card with a gift certificate in it to one of the stores that they are registered at. You can get this information from the bride's mother.
* It is poor etiquette not to send a gift. You could send the gift with a friend that is going or drop it off a few days after the wedding shower (just in case it's a surprise for the bride to be.) A card should be attached to the gift and inside you should let them know you are sorry you could not attend, but send your best wishes (or love.)
AnswerIf was not done by a formal invitation, in print and sent through the mail, you are not obligated to send anything at all. Usually, the return address will be on the reply envelop so you could send something if you choose to. When a oral invitation to a wedding is given its usually an after thought and I find it highly insulting, sometimes people do that to fish for a gift. IF you do choose to send a gift, the proper thing would be is to find out from the parents where the daughter will be residing after getting married and send the gift there because you dont send a gift before a wedding, its after you know that the wedding actually occurred and curiously, have you been invited to the bridal shower as well? That too should tell you of their considerations for you.
If you are invited to a wedding it is normal (but should not be expected or compulsory) to give the newlyweds a gift to help them start off their married life. If you are not attending the wedding but are friends (or family) of the couple (they are dear to you) then a gift is still a nice gesture (they may not be able to afford a big wedding so do not be insulted if you are not invited). If you hardly know the couple then sending them a card will be fine. Finally, at a wedding the focus should be on the ceremony of the marriage not the gifts or the party, maybe we are becoming too materialistic!
It is only etiquette that when you have been given the honor of attending a wedding and for some reason you can't make it then you should send the RSVP back as soon as possible and that you are sorry you are unable to attend. Two weeks before the wedding (if you live out of town) then send the wedding gift to the bride's parent's home and addressed to the bride and groom as Mr. & Mrs. John Doe (example.)
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