Do We Have to Reciprocate a Generous Wedding Gift?

Are you obligated to return the favor when someone gives you a wildly expensive wedding gift?

A rule of thumb that applies in many social situations is to do what feels right in your heart. You’ll almost always be right if you follow that guideline.

Dear Wedding Guru:
“When my husband and I married several years ago, we quite unexpectedly received an extraordinarily generous cash gift from his boss. To say the least, we were surprised, overwhelmed and delighted. Now, years later, we’ve been invited to my husband’s boss’ daughter’s wedding. Needless to say, her family has far greater resources than we do. Do we have to reciprocate in kind — and do we have to account for inflation in our gift? We’d like to attend, but there’s no way we can do so if we’re expected to give a gift of the same amount!” — Grateful (But Still Penniless)

Dear Grateful:
I understand how uncomfortable you must be, but let me assure you that “tit-for-tat” is not the appropriate etiquette for this situation. I have no doubt that your husband’s boss understands what your financial situation is and would not expect you to reciprocate dollar for dollar. To make yourself a bit more comfortable, you might consider a gift instead of cash. In that way, the exact amount of the gift is somewhat nebulous rather than being totally obvious.

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