odd wedding ethics question

My cousin got married this summer. We attended the wedding, and brought a nice card but not a gift. I figured I had six months to get something off the registry and I had cash-flow problems, so I’d deal with it later.

A month or so later, I received a thank-you card for a gift I never got them. They had an insane amount of gifts at the reception, and I’m sure my lone card got matched up with an unmarked gift. Oops. I saw my cousin later at another family event and neither of us mentioned it. I know that would have been the time to set the record straight, but I didn’t.

I can make excuses like they got tons of stuff and they are certainly more well-off than we are, so they don’t need my token gift from Pottery Barn. But I still feel a bit guilty that I’m just being cheap and (worse) not being appreciative of the couple and their hospitality. Not to mention that whoever got them the original gift might never get credit for it.

So, do I jut pick something off the registry and pretend I never got the thank-you card? Or say “Hey, by the way, I didn’t mention this three months ago, but I didn’t actually give you the XXXX, so you might want to find out who did that,” or figure I got away clean and forget the whole thing? :stuck_out_tongue:

Curious what you all think - the pile-on begins now!

This is the only right thing to do. Do it.

If you need a selfish incentive, think about how you’re going to look like a total douche when the actual gift givers call your cousin a few months down the road to make sure their gift was received.

I’d let sleeping dogs lie, on that one. They are thanking you for the gift of your card. Why call attention to your poverty? Would they embarass you like that on purpose? So why do it yourself with them? With an insane amount of gifts like you mention, they probably just sent that note to eveyone. Does the thank you note mention a specific gift, or just say ‘gift’?

Either way, I see no benefit to mentioning it.

ETA, I see we now have one for each side, now.

Did they mention a specific gift or was it a generic thank you?

The card mentioned a specific gift. A cookbook I think - nothing extravagant, but more personal than I would have come up with.

So, did they thank you for something in particular, or was it just a generic “thank you for the gift” thing with no personalization? If it was the latter, they’re probably thanking you for the card. Sometimes people who just sign pre-printed thank you notes just put all the cards in a pile and fire off the ty cards to everybody in the pile, without keeping track of who got them what. (Or, if they’re real douchebags, I suppose they could be giving you a passive-aggressive prod to get them something already.)

If they thanked you for something in particular, you really need to call them up and get this straightened out, because it means someone’s gift has gone unacknowledged. That makes your cousin look like an ungrateful jackass, and it’s not right to let your family go around looking like ungrateful jackasses when you know they’re making a good faith effort to do the right thing.

Avoiding this sort of ambiguity is why the thank you note is supposed to mention the specific gift in question. In fact, you’re supposed to mention how much you look forward to using, or how great it will be for whatever purpose. Like this:

Dear Cousin,

Thank you so much for the pack of paper plates. They’ll come in so handy for nights I’m too lazy to wash dishes. We really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Blah blah blah,
Bride and Groom

You know, I’ll give you a pass on this one. Even though it’s customary, you’re not required to give a wedding gift, particularly if doing so would be a financial strain. The fact that you got accidental credit for another gift is unfortunate. However, calling attention to the mistake may cause more embarrassment on behalf of the couple who thanked you for the wrong gift than simply politely overlooking it.

I say your card was your gift, there was a slight error in the thank you notes, but no one’s hurt and it’s better for everyone if you just ignore it. If the bride or groom ever thanks you again for it to your face, clear up the misunderstanding then.

Except for the person who actually did send a gift (as the OP said- “more personal than I would have come up with”) and is not getting acknowledged. If I was that bride I would want to know so that the right person was thanked for their thought and effort.

The card would have been sufficient as a gift. But taking credit for another gift and preventing that person from being thanked isn’t harmless. It can’t be that hard to say “I meant to tell you sooner, but you thanked me for a gift I didn’t send you.”

I would definitely tell your cousin that she accidentally sent you a thank-you letter for the wrong gift. You don’t want to make her seem like an ass to whoever didn’t get thanked for the cookbook.

When I got married, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the gifts. However, I would have felt awful if someone who was struggling to get by felt obligated to send me a gift. I didn’t invite people in order to get stuff from them; I invited them to celebrate my wedding. So please quit feeling guilty about the lack of gift.

There’s still time to mention the fact that you didn’t send the gift you were thanked for. If you’re too embarrassed to tell her face to face, call her when you know she’ll be at work and leave a msg on her answering machine. “Mary, this is Sally. I keep forgetting to mention this to you so I wanted to call while it was fresh on my mind. A few months ago you sent me a thank you card for a cookbook. I’m afraid there must have been a mix-up because I didn’t send a cookbook. I mention this only because I’d hate for the true sender not to get credit for her gift. Mary, I hope you’re enjoying your life as a newlywed and hope to see the two of you soon.”

I would-if ONLY to make sure that the person who actually did send the gift is properly thanked. If it were only you and the bride, meh, no big deal-but someone else is involved-and perhaps that was all she could afford, and she might feel slighted. So I’d say, “Hey, you know, I would like to thank you for the nice note, but I didn’t actually send said gift-you might want to go over the gift tags again.”

Now, IF said person didn’t label her gift, then she’s out of luck.