Is It OK to Keep Gifts from Uninvited Wedding Guests?

Covid-19, Planning & Advice

Let’s say a year ago you invited 120 guests to your wedding. Then weeks or even days before the Big Day, new restrictions were enforced, causing you to adjust your guest list. You’ve already had to have those awkward conversations, telling your loved ones they are no longer invited. But there’s one more question on your mind: Is it OK to keep gifts from uninvited wedding guests?

What do you do if a guest has already bought you a wedding gift before you have to uninvite them? Will people think it’s rude if you keep the gift? Or is it more rude to offer to return it? All valid questions which we will address today!

Related: Email Templates to Use If You’ve Changed Wedding Plans


Is it OK to keep gifts from uninvited wedding guests?

In our experience, guests don’t purchase wedding gifts as a ‘thank you for the invite’. Rather, gifts are given as a token of celebration! Don’t look at this as a ‘tit for tat’ situation. Guests will give you gifts because they want to wish you well in this new chapter of your life. They are buying you something special for your new home, not purely because they were invited to the wedding.

Before the days of Covid, there were lots of other reasons that guests couldn’t make it to the wedding. Often, a guest who is invited but not able to come, will still send a wedding gift to the happy couple!

Most of your guests will understand that your guest list and headcount is out of your control. But you can’t assume that everybody will be OK with you keeping their gift. Something else worth considering is that Covid hasn’t only affected your wedding. Many people have been financially impacted by Covid and lockdown restrictions. Purchasing a gift may have been outside of someone’s budget, so it is polite to at least acknowledge the situation.


How to approach the conversation

We recommend sending a polite email to everybody who has been uninvited (side note: don’t CC all of them into one email!). Here’s some wording you are free to copy and paste:

Dear [Wedding Guest]

We are once again so sorry that you are no longer able to join us on our wedding day. It was a difficult decision adjusting our guest list to just immediate family, but we felt that getting married this year is the best decision for us. 

We are so grateful for your generous wedding gift, but we understand if your circumstances have changed and you are no longer able to commit to giving us this gift. 


The information that follows will be dependent on the gift, where you’ve registered and what the terms and conditions are. You could offer to arrange a full refund for gifts purchased, or sometimes the guests can request a refund directly. Find out from your wedding registry company and include details in your email, or offer to return any wedding gifts that have already been delivered.

The key is to give your guests an opportunity to take their gift back without feeling awkward or revealing a difficult financial situation.