Courthouse Wedding & Wedding Gifts

Updated on January 12, 2011
S.H. asks from Harvest, AL
19 answers

My husband and I will be married 3 years next month, so this isn't a big deal, I'm just curious. :)

When we got married, we had intentions of have at least a small "real" wedding. We had picked 3 or 4 dates that ended up not working out. He is in the Army National Guard, so of course they came first haha

So we ended up just going to the courthouse to get married (just prior to his first deployment). My Mom & Dad, a couple friends of mine, and our daughter (2 years old at the time) were there with us. That was it. Daughter stayed at my parents house that night, and hubby & I went out to eat. lol

Never got a chance to have any sort of shower or reception or anything like that. My aunt & grandparents (Dad's side) were the only ones to give us a card or present.

It doesn't really bother me that I didn't get totally showered with gifts since we never had anything to invite anyone to.. I dunno what we really need anyways lol But it kinda hurt that nobody even really sent a congrats card or anything. Like nothing happened.

My sister got married about 6 months prior ($6,000 wedding...) and got all the attention & showers & reception, etc etc.

I guess I just feel like we got ignored & left out.

Do you think that was rude at all? Or did we just get screwed because we had a courthouse wedding? lol

My other grandmother even told my mom a few months ago how she realized she never got us a wedding

ADDED: I did want to have a reception or something when my husband came home from his deployment, but we didn't have the money to do anything. :(

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

A lot of you seem to be focusing on the gifts. While I understand that I didn't have an event to invite everyone to in order to bring gifts, it's not the gifts that bother me so much anymore. It seemed all we got from people was "oh you got married? that's nice." while my sister got all the excitement & congratulations. Pretty much made me feel like crap. Especially after my sister got a $6,000 wedding & I got absolutely nothing.

And the idea that the gifts should match what was spent on the event - that just tells me that if people can't afford to do much, then they don't deserve gifts or anything. That's pretty lousy.

I could go on complaining, but it's not going to change anything anyways.

I'd love to renew our vows or have some sort of party, but who knows if we'll ever be able to do that. Hubby's deployed again right now anyways.

Featured Answers



answers from Oklahoma City on

Have you thought about a renewal of vows ceremony? Then you could still have the celebration of marriage and still keep it very simple and make it like a family get together as far as food. Nothing too fancy or expensive needed.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Mobile on

Ugh. Whether or not a book says it's right, I think it's disgusting to see a gift as compensation for entertainment. Is this a transaction or a celebration of love? If you have a reception and invite a bunch of people, I can imagine someone not invited not sending a gift (because of feeling left out or something), but to have the mentality of "you didn't entertain people, so I'm not sending anything"--I just think that's sad. Just my thoughts. You seem to be a good sport about it though.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Topeka on

After a few years after my wedding just looking back I should of went with the small wedding it was in general but I should of went smaller & did it at the court house/ Lake Gazebo no church ( we are in the eyes of GOD no matter where we are) still buy my beautiful dress & have my son dressed for the occasion.We spent right under $10,000 my most expensive item was on the cake that was CRAZY...I did have a shower but didn't want one I was already living with the man & we had our son togehter we had what we needed.I can see why you fell left out or that your marraige wasn't as important as the other just becasue you had it in the courthouse & hers else where.The weddigns aren't what makes the marriage it is the married coupls that makes the marriage.Your married for 3 yrs wait till you hit 5 years renew your Vows than have an after party invite all family your friends make this an event you want.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Have a 5 year anniversary party. Start saving now. Maybe your invitation can note how you always dreamed of a wedding celebration, but duties got in the way...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My husband and I had the same type of wedding and when my older sister was enaged (now brokend off) my parents were throwing money left and right. My husband and I will do a "real" ceremony at 10 years. We will hit 7 this year, so we will start planning soon. And probably do a destination thing with our families. Just save and do something later. I get what you're saying, but when we do things not by the book, people don't follow the by the book reactions either. Good luck and don't stress, it will come!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

The wedding gift is given as a "return" for you paying for the reception dinner/party. People typically bring a gift around the same price or higher than the cost for thier seat unless they have the funds/ability to get a nicer gift. You throw the party you get the gifts. Most of the ettique things I have seen say the gift should fit the reception in regards to the cost/feel; the more elaborate the event the more expensive the gift and it works the same way for a lesser event.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

I don't think you got screwed at all. I think you got what is par for the course. My husband and I got married in Vegas specifically so we wouldn't be required to invite certain people out of "obligation," and at the same time, so the people who loved us and would have been at our wedding didn't feel "obligated" to give us a gift...of any sort. We had been together for six and a half years and didn't need/want anything, but to be legally married. When I hear of someone eloping, I don't think twice about offering them anything more than a sincere Congratulations.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't think your friends were rude. If you had sent an announcement that would have triggered some people to send a gift but if your nupitals were told casually from person to person, that does not require gift giving.

It sounds aweful and I don't necessarily agree with my mother but when we were planning my wedding 17 years ago, my mother said that we should invite more of her friends because she was paying for my wedding and her friends had more money so they would purchase gifts that would equate to what she was spending. In other words, the bride isn't the only one 'getting' something at a wedding, the guest is too. The food, the drink, the dancing, etc.....

So yes, you got 'screwed' but you didn't give an event for anyone to give you a gift.

If you are in a happy marriage, you are doing better than 50% of the population (probably more) so consider that the best 'gift' of all.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I can understand how you feel. My sister had the big wedding as a young adult and her second marriage was a Justice of the Peace. He owned a grocery store and they got married between the canned goods and the fresh veggies.

They got absolutely nothing and had not lived together before getting married. They were both starting out with a new life and she said it felt like no one even noticed. It is hard to not feel slighted when you see how the same family handles a different situation. Even someone calling and telling you congratulations validates you as someone they care about.

I think just deciding to let it go will be hard, there will always be anew family wedding somewhere down the row. Trying to think less negatively might be easier but it will still take time to recognize that you are thinking those same phrases and changing it to something else more positive.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My sisters had big weddings. I had a tiny one in the banquet room of a restaurant. (pregnant) I still get a little jealous when i see nice weddings. I think it is normal. Some of us girls dream about our wedding from the time we are small. I am like you, i would love to renew my vows someday. It looks like it will have to be more towards the 20 or 25th wedding anniversary. Life gets in the way....not in a bad way and it gets put on the back burner. (we were married in 1996)

I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I think there a few of us out there that wish we had a bigger celebration. (or veil, bouquet, dj....i could go!) As the years go by think about it less and less and enjoy the life that is going on together :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

I can fully understand why you felt left-out and ignored, especially if your own grandmother even forgot. :( Gift giving isn't required but not even getting any cards really bites.

I'm not sure it has anything to do with the location of your wedding though. I was lucky with my wedding. My husband & I were both in the Guard at the time so it dictated our schedule too. :D We were on a tiny budget but I refused to get married in a court house and DH refused to step foot in a Church so we were married by our chaplain in an Eagles lodge. I designed my own invitations and sent them. Most people were able to attend and even people I didn't invite attended. (My father invited them because he was so excited. Fine by me though because they were wonderful people and I wasn't having a catered event. I loved the cheese grater they gave me.) We had a small reception afterward but that was only a small part of our budget because we held a potluck meal. Each guest or family brought a dish. I provided a huge ham and the cake of course. (Which my aunt made; it was gorgeous. And I made my sisters cake for her wedding.) I admit that I was able to cheat a little because my husbands parents own a winery and they provided that free of charge. :) Oh, and I guess I also lucked out because my husbands aunt is a photographer and she wandered around taking shots. Including everything, I spent less than $1K on my wedding.

While etiquette does say that if you only receive an announcement vs. an invite you don't have to send a gift I'm not sure that applies anymore. My brother had a courthouse wedding and they were showered in gifts. They sent out no invites, and used word of mouth. People came or didn't as they chose and lots sent gifts. For their reception, we all went to the local pizza place and completely filled the joint. :D They did good business that night and even gave my brother their pizza free. (Each family or guest that attended ordered & paid for their own pizza.)

I don't know your circumstances or when your anniversary is, but if you planned a bbq reception this summer, as a potluck then you should only have to worry about renting the pavilion at the park, provided the main dish and the beverages. There is nothing in the rule book that says you have to have a huge wedding and go into debt paying for it to receive lots of gifts, nor is there a rule saying your reception can't be a potluck.

I know some etiquette books say that the amount of the gift is based on how expensive the reception is but other etiquette books say it's complete bollux. Then you'd be giving a close friend who had a tiny wedding less than a distant acquaintance that had a large formal wedding. A gift is supposed to be given in appreciation of your loved ones and their happiness; it comes from the heart.. It is NOT supposed to be reimbursing them what they spent for the wedding (and even some of the etiquette books agree w/ me on this one). If that were true, than I should not have walked away w/ over $4k in cash and a big stack of gifts from mine.

While I didn't have this experience, I know where you're coming from. How about coming home to what was supposed to be a bday party to find out your family had already started without you AND even eaten the cake because your mom was mad at you? Big hugs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Yes, you kind of got screwed. My husband and I got married in a courthouse shortly before his deployment. No one was there but the two of us. A few months later, my MIL held a little reception for us in her house. She invited a lot of my husband's casual acquaintances and more distant relatives. We got lots of gifts and well wishes then. We also had a destination wedding vow ceremony for close family and friends a few months later. This is when close family and friends gave us gifts.

Did you send out wedding announcements to your friends and family? Maybe some of them didn't even know that you got married until well after the fact. When they don't know the details of the nuptials, it's a little awkward to know if/when to give a gift or send a card. We got lots of gifts from friends and family who couldn't attend either of our small celebrations. They still wanted to send us a little something to wish us well.

Like you said, it's not a big deal, but it would have been nice to be acknowledged. Luckily, you didn't go into debt for a big wedding. And you didn't have to encounter all the crazy drama that comes with weddings.



answers from Chicago on

your family should have at the very least sent cards. It's not to late though. Call your pastor or priest and have a blessing of your marriage ceramony and invite your family and friends to it and have cake and punch in the church hall afterward. your family and friends should have had a shower for you. they definitely dropped the ball on that.



answers from Lincoln on

That's pretty much the way it is with courthouse weddings.
You already had a daughter and went and got married at a courthouse. "Oh, you got married? That's nice." is about what you can expect.
The "big deal" happens when there's a big wedding. A bride is leaving her family to join with her husband. So people give her lots of gifts to start her knew life.
When a bride and groom are already living together, especially if they have children the wedding is more of a , "Well, its about time" kind of moment.
I don't mean to sound mean, I was a bride who was already living with her groom and got no parties, gifts, or "big deals" made of my wedding either. Just the consequences of our choices.



answers from Columbus on

It does sound like the family thought maybe you didn't WANT a big deal made of the wedding, maybe.

But you could try this:
Set a date to have a "marriage" (or wedding) "celebration"--On the invites, write something like, "At the time of our wedding, we were unable to schedule a wedding celebration or afford it. However, in a clear case of "better late than never," we like to invite you to come and help us celebrate the joy of our marriage."

I would suggest having it at friends or relatives house, and have it be informal (maybe a barbecue or potluck), have music, etc.


answers from Dallas on

I feel your pain, but not about the wedding. I ended up postponing my daughter's b-day party (from Jan. to June) for a 1/2 (and warmer) party. EVERYONE forgot to call her on her birthday this year and it broke her heart. I had to text them to remind them to call. So sad.
A lot of people just get excited (and reminded) about things when there's something big going on. Sad, but true.


answers from Lansing on

Not having an actual church wedding does kind of put a damper on things.

If it would have been me, I would have had a reception type party after my husband came home from deployment. And then you would have been showered with gifts and attention :)

I don't think it's rude. Feelings and emotions are natural. But, I definately wouldn't expect anything from anyone now, except your grandma who recently mentioned it to your mom :)


answers from Jacksonville on

Maybe some people were waiting to see if you were planning an event later, being that your husband was about to be deployed and it sounds like you sort of just gave up planning a big deal and went to the courthouse. Lots of people do that and then throw a reception elsewhere shortly thereafter. When the reception invite never arrived, they probably either put it off or just plain forgot, or then got caught up in the "etiquette" issues.

It just sounds like a case of confusion, to me. I would say that if you really want to have a party and celebrate with all those people, then start saving and have a big 5 year anniversary party. Invite the people you would have invited to a more formal wedding if you were just now getting married.

As an added note, there was a time (not sure it really applies anymore, but at one time it was much more common) when if the bride and groom had already living together for some time, people sort of frowned on having a big wedding. Maybe since you had been for some time (I am being a bit presumptuous here I know, but you had a 2 yr old already sooo..) and then didn't send out any invites or hold a "reception", people just let it slide assuming you didn't want the attention.

Congrats on the happy years since the wedding. That's what really matters.
Try not to measure people's care and concern by what they did or didn't do 3 years ago. People make mistakes. And may even feel weird about it now if they didn't send anything or acknowledge your nuptiuals. I would have a big anniversary party so they can make right anything they feel like they should, and celebrate with you.



answers from St. Louis on

I understand your hurt feelings, but quite often people feel that if you're going the courthouse route & not having a reception.....then they're not obligated to give a gift. It is sad, though, that even your closest family did not.......but I do have to say that when my sis did the courthouse thing - without any of us present (a deliberate choice on her part, which really hurt our mom).....we also did not give gifts. It was not out of spite - it was simply because my sis did not want any hooplah like with her 1st wedding.

Sooo, I'd have to say it's not made your choice! Sorry!

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