Do We Need to Thank the Wedding Guests Who Didn’t Give Gifts?

My husband and I got married in Palm Springs in October. We live in Los Angeles and encouraged people to come out for the weekend. Apart from the wedding and reception, we hosted a welcome party on Friday and a farewell brunch on Sunday. About a third of our guests did not give us a wedding gift. Most of these people are relatives who flew in from the East Coast. Many of their travel expenses were covered by my grandfather, who put them up for the weekend. Are we still obliged to write thank-you notes to them? I’m inclined not to. I don’t think I need to thank people for going on an expense-paid vacation.


I get that you feel aggrieved by guests who didn’t give you and your husband a wedding gift. Skipping thank-you notes to them probably won’t make you feel much better, though. In my experience, when I believe I’ve been wronged, as you seem to, what helps me most is trying to imagine the other person’s perspective.

Let’s take your East Coast relatives, for instance. Even if your grandfather paid for their lodgings, they still had to spend hundreds of dollars, at least, to fly across the country (during a pandemic). That’s not nothing! They also attended several events that were all about you and your husband. That’s a kind of gift, too — and not much like a typical vacation activity for me.

Now, would it have killed these people to spend a few bucks more on a present? Probably not. (And a few gifts may still roll in. Etiquette rules give people a year to send them.) But they may have decided they’ve spent enough on your wedding already — in dollars, time and effort. So, I hope you can appreciate what they did to help celebrate your big day without focusing exclusively on the gifts. I’d thank them for joining you.

My roommate and I are six months into a one-year lease. We were friends before we were roommates, but I’ve seen some troubling behavior since we moved in together: He shoplifted from a department store, for instance, and registered with a website to be a companion for “sugar daddies.” At the same time, he’s been a helpful sounding board and emotionally supportive of me. Should I renew our lease? If so, may I set rules for his behavior?


I can’t tell you whether to renew your lease. But I will note that your roommate’s good qualities — his generous ear and emotional support of you — seem more relevant in evaluating a roommate than his so-called “troubling behavior.”

Shoplifting is wrong, obviously. You can discuss that with him. Personally, though, I am unwilling to make harsh judgments about his choices around sex and dating without a fuller understanding of the situation or his perspective on it. These issues don’t affect you directly as his roommate. You share a space; you don’t control his life. But if they really trouble you, don’t renew the lease.

My wife and I make plans with others separately or together, as we wish. I’m more dutiful, so I join in plans with her friends more often than she does with mine. The problem: This dynamic has damaged my relationships with friends my wife doesn’t click with. Specifically, I let a friendship lapse when I wasn’t sure how to tell my friend that I wanted to see him one-on-one after he continued to bring his talkative girlfriend to our meetings, even in my wife’s absence. Any ideas for rekindling this friendship?


Your wife is not responsible for maintaining your relationships, nor is your “dynamic” with her the root of your problem. It’s that you fail to keep in touch with your friends.

Call or text your lapsed friend and tell him you miss seeing him. Then invite him to lunch or dinner (or a walk in the park), one-on-one, to catch up. Make a calendar note to do this every few months. Keeping in touch is how we maintain our relationships. Try it with anyone you miss.

I just moved to a small town and was delighted to be invited to two Passover Seders. The first-night Seder is at the home of a new friend. The second-night Seder was to be a community event hosted by the small Jewish community. Unfortunately, the community Seder had to move to the first night to secure a venue. My strong preference is to attend that one and meet new people, but I’ve already accepted my friend’s invitation. May I cancel on her?


Don’t cancel on your new friend. It would be disrespectful to her. It may feel like a big loss not to meet more of your new neighbors at the community Seder. But if you exchange contact information with the organizers, you can participate in their next event, or meet even sooner over coffee. But canceling an accepted invitation because something better has come along is rarely a good move.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.