Q: My stepson and his fiancée invited my husband and me to their wedding. They didn’t want us to pay for anything because they didn’t want our names to be associated with any of the items from the wedding, i.e. paying for the rehearsal dinner, the alcohol for the bar, etc. The divorce between my husband and his ex-wife was not good. The strained relationship has been an issue for their wedding because they’re concerned that the ex’s family will not be kind to my husband or me. Therefore we decided to be generous in our gifts to them. We gave them $3,000 worth of gifts for the wedding and the shower. Now they’ve decided to dis-invite us to the wedding after they received all of our gifts. Do you think they should return the gifts? Do you think they should at least give us the money back that we spent on the gift if they wish to keep the gifts? I also personally paid $400 for gifts for the guests of the shower that was given by my stepson’s fiancé’s mother. I believe she should return that to me as well. Curious what you think.
A: Dear Anonymous,
Nope nope nope.
You don’t get to expect gifts back once they’ve been given. Maybe they’re being rude by canceling your invitation, but that’s not solved by sending the gifts back. And you certainly shouldn’t ask for them.
It sounds just a bit like you were trying to buy yourself some good will. Family dynamics can be weird anyway, and then you add in a wedding and some past divorces, and sure. It can get hairy. But you don’t smooth that over by throwing money at them. Based on your email, it sounds like this couple specifically said they didn’t want to further complicate things by involving your money. Rather than hearing that and respecting it, you decided to try to heap piles of cash onto the mess and expect that to fix everything. That’s just not how it works.
I stand pretty firmly in the “no uninviting” camp, but who knows what’s going on over there. (All I’ve got is some deets about your presents.) Assuming that they’re just revoking the invitation for no good reason, that’s terrible! It’s rude and it’s disappointing. But you can’t control other people’s bad choices. And asking for the gifts back would be your own bad choice.
There are things money just can’t solve, as you found out. It certainly didn’t help you buy your way into good standing with family. And now, having it returned to you isn’t going to fix the fact that you’re not invited, or any of the deeper issues the uninviting represents.
Forget about the gifts (I know, I know. Three grand isn’t easy to overlook). Focus on this invitation and why your stepson suddenly finds it important that you not attend his wedding, now that you already took out your checkbook.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)