What Kind of Gift Do You Give to a Couple That Eloped?

by TTMK on April 29, 2013 · 19 comments

One of my friends had been dating someone for a while, a nice woman who seemed to be a good match for him.  They had known each other about a year, I believe, and seemed really happy together.  I met her a few times, and thought she was nice.

Anyway, recently he notified his friends (including me) via email that on a vacation together, the two of them had eloped.  I had to read the email a couple of times, doing double and triple takes before fully grasping what I had just read.  It’s not everyday that a friend of yours notifies you via email that he just got married!

At first I thought he might have been kidding, and I thought about contacting one of the other folks in the email about it.  But this friend of mine marches to the beat of his own drum, and the more I thought about it, it sunk in that he actually got married.  “Good for them!” I thought.  So, I emailed him congrats, and he wrote back a few lines, and we left it at getting back in touch when their multi-week vacation (honeymoon?) was over.

My next thought was this question: What kind of a gift should I get them, since they eloped?

Here’s the thing: None of my good friends had ever eloped.  Most of us had actual wedding ceremonies, with an evening before (rehearsal) dinner, a formal ceremony, and a wedding reception.  The path of eloping is just something I no familiarity with.  So, I thought about how this should be handled.

What to do? There was no registry, and they never asked for anything.  I was never invited to anything, but that’s okay because neither was anybody else.

Flummoxed, the decision ultimately ended up being this: take them out to a nice dinner.   Which is what happened, and it was actually quite recently that we all went out to dinner.  I nice little Italian place was the venue, the type of place that his new wife would like.  Which, it seemed like she did.  That was the intent, honestly – though I was his friend, I thought it was best to go to a place that would make her happy.  Now they’re friends of ours 🙂

My Questions for You:

Have you ever known any friends who eloped? Did you?

In terms of giving a gift, what do you think would be appropriate – if anything at all?

Do you think that the nice dinner was a good choice, or would something else have been better?

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

AverageJoe April 29, 2013 at 7:13 am

That’s cool. I hope my kids both elope when they get married! (That was a joke….)

I think when you elope you’re avoiding the entire wedding gift thingy. I would send them a congratulations card…maybe do what you did and have a “congrats” dinner.

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TTMK April 29, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Average Joe – well, that would be a good financial outcome for the parent! At least, in the short-term when it comes down to costs. But I know many parents wouldn’t go for it. Mine wouldn’t have, but everyone’s different!

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Emily @ evolvingPF April 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I haven’t known anyone who eloped. If it was a really good friend I would probably still want to give a gift but without a registry it’s hard to know what to do. I think your solution of a dinner out was a good one.

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TTMK April 29, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Emily – great, glad to get some good feedback on my choice!

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Jessica October 20, 2016 at 3:13 am

Me and my husband did because we really didn’t have the finances for the big wedding since were a young couple and about 10 years younger than any of my other family members who got married and saving for a home. We did have a parent there And we did invite our family but since we didn’t want to do anything to Over the top we ask people to ask one other to come and unfortunately they didn’t not ask one person, not to mention my one side of the family is sknobs and if you don’t have $100,000 wedding it would’ve been made into a joke. on my side of the family and I’m the bride not one person gave a gift and there were at least 300 people who could have if I had a big wedding. my husband and family did give gifts and then only his mother’s friend which was very nice of them; in fact my mother-in-law’s friend was the person who gave us the largest gift like if we had a big huge wedding. to be honest it’s kind of upsetting not to get even one card when they knew our financial situation and we didn’t want to register and be pushy and to put something like that on Facebook. we were thinking about on our one year anniversary (which is now come and pasted) sending out a card saying it’s our one year anniversary and we are register here, but we didn’t do it maybe this year. If I was any of you I would send a card with a decent check like if you can afford the amount you would given a normal wedding that’s great and if not you could always do half . people obviously do this for reason sometimes financially and that can really help a couple with some of the new expenses or even just a small personal gift so you can show you care and support them, it could be less than $100. To be honest I would’ve been happy with the one $.99 card take knowledge our marriage On my side of the family. However and this is where he can get very tricky if you don’t do anything for a couple like mine and my husband situation and I’ll give you an example, the thing that really upsets me is about all of this is eight months later one of my 2nd cousin fiancé’s got an inheritance from his brother passing so they took the money and they had a very large circus wedding when they invited me and my husband we went and I accidentally forgot the card. They had somebody else in my family go through everything all the cards and gifts that was there and wrote out all the people who didn’t give any gave and to add insult to injury the best man Made a drunken best man speech thank everybody for coming to the reception to freeloaders since they wouldn’t come to the wedding which is during the week in The middle of the afternoon On a work today because they wanted a free meal . well I’m sorry I don’t know who would want to wait three hours in between wedding and reception when no one is around there and drive an hour in between and FYI the food was not good at 300 a plate and the party was shit, I don’t know what she spent $100,000 on, she got ripped off. It Look like the decorations were left over from another wedding and filled with stuff from the Dollar store and her dress was about 3 inches too short and way too small I think about for 4 sizes it look like she had on the person’s dress from the night before give me a break 15,000 for that dress I rather buy a car and it was on Black Friday so you know they got a discount. Also they’re extremely Catholic and they got married in church and hour away from the reception hall which is one of the number one places for Jewish people around here to get married I know the reception hall because me and my husband looked at that venue because my husband is jewish. It was just a way of saying look at how much money we sent down to knowing every dime or ever peace, it’s like they were trying to pass off a wedding that was maybe 10 grand for 100,000 and make everybody pay for it . And since I forgot the card They gave my mother hell over it amd we were there for an hours $900 for that and shit food so my momsent a check in her name The very next day and overnighted so by the time I got home to give her my card and put it in the regular mail, I found out that she already received my mother literally as I was putting mine in the mailbox so I took a check out and put a note in it saying sorry I forgot your card we were in a rush I heard my mom gave you a gift that we where going to send you which was even more embarrassing. that was the first night my mother-in-law met my entire family they didn’t even get to know her or her son and not one person congratulating us and not one person said oh I have to get you a gift and they all called him my boyfriend but yet they expected us to give a gift like a married couple because I didn’t get married in the Catholic Church or make my husband convert or do a big show wedding. This is what takes the cake then about a few months later she had a baby shower and invited whole family, even my mother and sister and did not include me which again she got a gift from my family and then right after that my grandpa passed away and I saw her and her mediate family at the funeral. So I thought I’d be the bigger person and go out and say hello they completely snub me and ran into the room and my aunt who told everybody not to give me a gift ran with her daughter so fast I couldn’t believe my eyes, do they really care so much over a couple hundred bucks they would act that way, when they took over a month honeymoon obviously so she I obviously didn’t have a financial issue and her and her husband are in the late 40s with the great jobs and have a home and just received a large check and My husband just finished school and had only been working at our new job for a couple of months and we’re coming up on our third anniversary and I haven’t been on a on s honeymoon yet because we believe in doing things financially right versus spending money on frivolous things until we can afford and waiting until we can. I’m telling you I would’ve been happy with just the card showing any support it’s on the Briding usually that’s on the side of the family his most excited . Show you care about the couple because usually if the couple of older it’s not financial but if a couple of young and they don’t have a family who can pay this is what they do or their independent they’re going to have a small wedding or even run off because I can tell you just what me and my husband did to get married was around $2000 and it was at our hime but I cannot be happier in the long run after hey how people are im very happy I didn’t have a big wedding for a bunch of people I wouldn’t even consider family. There still messed up over money because they live right by me and have a big house so anytime my grandmother need to go to the Doctors that two hours away she stays with them But I can’t come there so if my grandmother who is elderly would have to drive 10 minutes out of the way and maybe 20 with traffic Amd I only get to see my grandmother about once a year because my husband’s work. Point-blank if you know somebody oand you’re close and send them anything because if you have a wedding you should expect anything from them , if you wont do the same for them why should they and something that can destroy a relationship it’s a tricky situation but people like that usually appreciate anything because there humble it’s more about your knowledge meant and the exception and the economy is going right now people should take a page from that Because that’s what people use to do

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Untemplater April 30, 2013 at 12:56 am

Cool! I know a few people who have eloped. Good for them and they saved a lot of money by eloping! I agree that people tend to elope because they don’t want to deal with all the normal stuff that goes along with weddings including the whole registry process and formalities. Skip an actual gift and treat them to a dinner out to celebrate. Keep it casual as that’s their style. If you really want to give them something you can bring a bottle of champagne or wine if they like to drink.

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TTMK April 30, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Hi Sydney – yes, people sure can save a lot of money this way. I did take them out to dinner, I guess my thinking was similar to yours!

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KC @ genxfinance April 30, 2013 at 9:49 am

I know a family member who eloped but we weren’t invited. most of the our our families weren’t. I guess that’s the whole point. They want to do it on their own terms and to avoid spending much. But anyway, as for the gift dilemma, hmmm, i agree with Untemplater. A bottle of wine or champagne would probably do.

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TTMK April 30, 2013 at 9:49 pm

KC – I think you’re right on the “own terms” aspect for many people. Whatever suits each couple!

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Christina February 13, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I’ve had two friends who eloped and I was not invited in either case (because it would be impossible/ inconvenient for me to go). Both times I gave a traditional wedding gift. One had a registry, for those of us who asked for gift suggestions, so I got her something off the registry. Apparently, I was the only one who got my friend something off the registry, even though I was not the only one who asked. It meant a lot to my friend, who would have like a traditional wedding, but just could not afford one. I just got the other one a BB&B gift certificate.

I don’t think you should give a gift, because someone is throwing an expensive party, but because you wish the couple well and want to help them start out their new life together.

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Nancy July 2, 2015 at 7:52 pm

I totally agree with your statement you don’t give a gift because you are invited to the party you give the gift to wish the couple well and help them get a start on their life together.

I gave the same gift I would have if I did attend a reception. I still saved money by not having to: buy a new dress, get hair and make-up done, travel and stay in a hotel! My relationship with the couple is the same as it was before they were married. I was happy to give the gift to help them start their life together

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Linda August 25, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Just curious….my son got married very quickly to someone he’s been with for 2 years and planned to marry but they decided to forego the big wedding. Only myself (the groom’s mom) and bride’s parents were at the ceremony, then they included a few more close relatives for dinner after. I am a bit upset because my siblings who are all well to do and have had a good relationship with my now 26 year old son for his lifetime couldn’t even ask me for his address to at least send a card. Everyone knows they are struggling very much financially but still nothing. While I have given each of their kids $ for wedding in Mexico that I wasnt invited to, for a niece who had a terrible health problem and for another who earned a phd. Just me, but they were all acknowledged monetarily.

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Retired by 40 March 26, 2014 at 8:38 am

My husband and I eloped, and then didn’t tell anyone for two months, but that’s besides the point. My husband’s church wanted to throw us a shower/reception thing, and they did, but it was awkward. We eloped because we wanted as little fuss as possible, so I didn’t really enjoy the shower/reception. However, had someone offered to take us to dinner, I think that would have been lovely!

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Tina August 4, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I eloped last week. It was a second wedding for both of us and it was rather impromtu. We had waited 6 years for my divorce to be final (the judge lost the file for the last year) so, when we heard it was finally over, this is how we decided to celebrate.
In terms of gifts, I think a card would be nice to receive from immediate family and close friends, but since we’ve been living together for 5 years, there is nothing we ‘need’ for our home. A card would be nice, just as an aknowledgment.

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Michelle September 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm

When we have friends who have eloped, they still had a wedding ceremony/reception for us to attend. We end up giving the same gift as we would have to a traditional wedding.

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TTMK October 3, 2014 at 9:46 pm

That makes sense, particularly in that they still did have ceremony/reception.

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Sasha April 19, 2015 at 5:36 pm

This is a bit late but for other people searching this question, I would like to give my input. It’s something I’ve been waffling over as an elopement is a very odd case for gift giving and it’s hard to know what to expect.

I would never expect anyone to send us any kind of gift if they were NOT invited to our elopement. That’s not to say I wouldn’t find it an incredibly kind gesture, to receive something from a close friend or family member. Even though you save a lot of money and hassle eloping, the down side is that you do miss out on those exciting wedding things and any kind of congratulatory gift would be really nice, but unnecessary.

If I can’t attend a wedding I am invited to, I always send a gift, but a small one. Not necessarily as expensive as if I had attended the wedding, but still something. I feel like if you are invited to an elopement, from my personal experience, a gift is definitely expected, but given the relative costs of an elopement, I would not expect an expensive wedding gift as I would if I had had a “real” wedding. But if you are invited to an elopement, especially since they are small in number and you don’t invite just anyone, that is a pretty big deal, and you should definitely get at least a very small gift.

I personally had a pretty awful experience that really put a damper on my wedding. I definitely was not expecting an expensive wedding gift at all, but I felt the behavior of my guests was downright rude.

As we needed a witness I invited my friend of about 17 years – ye – to come to City Hall with us, and we also invited both her and her boyfriend out to lunch afterwards. He couldn’t make it, but she came and we bought her lunch and drinks at a place that was relatively expensive. She then told us that her boyfriend wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate since he couldn’t make it to lunch. It was kind of a vague invitation as to whether they were taking us out or not.

When it came to paying the bill, we didn’t assume they were paying or anything so took out our wallet and her boyfriend immediately said “Wait, aren’t we paying for them?” To which my friend replied in a whisper something along the lines of no, and when he said “but didn’t they pay for your lunch and drinks?” she whispered something else to justify not paying for us – right in front of us. I didn’t catch what she said, but I heard something along the lines of “plus they got their dessert for free.” (The restaurant gave us a free dessert.) It was the most rude act I have ever experienced in my life. This is a friend who I have bought many expensive birthday gifts for, have paid for at birthday dinners, and cooked for many times when she has come to stay with me. My friend doesn’t ever want to get married, she doesn’t really believe in weddings, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with it. We invited her above anyone else, if anything that should have felt like an honor.

Having known her this long, I knew she would be cheap about it, but I didn’t think she’d be that cheap. She has always been pretty selfish and I’ve accepted that as part of her personality and have learned over the years to alter what I put into our friendship to match hers. But, I guess, for some reason, maybe the fact that this was our wedding, I thought she might actually be a polite, respectful human being.

But, anyway.

Afterwards my husband and I discussed it, both feeling like it had been rude – we knew the whispering was rude, but had this situation not occurred in such a rude manner, did they owe us anything? We had not paid for a whole wedding.

My friend’s boyfriend later privately acknowledged that they had not given us a wedding gift and asked me what we wanted – but he did not do this with my friend around, so it insinuated he felt very embarrassed by her behavior.

It was clear she did not feel like a wedding gift was necessary since we had eloped but that he thought it was the polite thing to do. I didn’t really know what to say and I didn’t know what would be appropriate so I just said “Let’s see what my husband wants,” and then the issue was never brought up again.

A few days later, we went to the movies and they bought our tickets. That was awkward because we were like – wait is this our wedding gift? If so, it’s a pretty lame wedding gift. Either that, or they were just so ashamed of their rudeness they felt they had to do something, anything.

The whole situation is worse because they are, although not necessarily rolling in money, pretty well off. My friend lives in an apartment owned by her parents, so what she pays them in rent toward the mortgage is a joke. She spends seemingly all of her money on the 100 pairs of shoes she has, heaps of clothing, and expensive cosmetics. She makes a comfortable salary and has very few expenses. He works for a financial software company. Money is really not an issue for them.

At this point, it’s not even really about a gift, it’s more about general being a polite human being and respecting friendship. When someone gets married, especially someone you’ve known for a long time, it’s a big deal. Even if it’s not a real wedding.

If you are not invited to the elopement, you’re not obligated to do anything. But if you are, don’t be a dick. Get them a gift or take them out to dinner or whatever, but do something.

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Ashley May 14, 2015 at 7:53 am

We didn’t elope, but got married in a tiny ceremony (us & the pastor, with photographer and wedding planner as our witnesses) with no guests unless you count the tourists who were hiking through the area, stood along the shore for a few moments, and then quietly moved on. We did have two receptions after the honeymoon, involving 2 very different cultures, and guests at both receptions brought gifts. I didn’t pay attention to whether or not anyone didn’t bring a gift – I was just thrilled to see so many people we cared about coming to celebrate with us – but if there was anyone who didn’t bring a gift because we didn’t invite them to the ceremony, their non-giving went completely unnoticed.

If we had not had the receptions, I absolutely would not have expected ANY gifts from anyone, including our close friends and family members. If someone had chosen to give a gift anyway, we would’ve been pleasantly surprised and grateful, since we didn’t invite anyone. But to be honest, although I suspected that a lot of people would bring a gift to the receptions, I didn’t feel like they were required to. I know there’s debate about that, and many people do feel a gift is required.

Fast forward a few years… just found out on Facebook that someone very close to us eloped. They didn’t want to “spend a pile of money on a traditional wedding”. The end of the status update says “SHIP IT!” I’m not sure if this is referring to gifts, but if it is… we’re certainly not. We aren’t mad about it of course, but we don’t think a gift is necessary from people who aren’t included in the happy occasion. Unless you count their Facebook friend list. In that case, a “like” or a quick “Congrats!” in the comment box is probably sufficient 🙂

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Tiffany June 12, 2016 at 7:33 pm

I chose to elope, it was what was right for us at the time. We already had two children, had been together forever, recently purchased a house, a patio, playset and everything that comes with upgrading your new house. We dressed up, bought rings and paid a photographer which was still quite costly, and didn’t notify anyone (with the exception of our kids) until it was done and over with. It was perfect, simple and romantic.

Of course some people were upset that they were not included and encouraged us to have a reception which we kindly declined. I did not expect any gifts. With that being said, I would have very much appreciated a card from my closest friends or our parents.

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