Here's where I think some of us are getting confused. In her original (and only) post, Lilblu wrote both
My understanding is that etiquette rules dictate that I am supposed to give her a gift even though I am not going to the wedding.
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case.
I appreciate that there is a difference between a violation of etiquette and rudeness -- they aren't coextensive (i.e., there are etiquette violations that are incorrect but not rude, and there is rudeness that is technically correct). But Lilblu is giving herself credit for understanding the difference, while unkindly assuming that her cousin does not:
Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift.
There may well be more facts to support that assumption, but she hasn't shared them with us, so all we're left with is her making, without any discernible reason, the unkindest possible assumption about the motives of relatives she says she doesn't even know well anymore and a fiance she doesn't know at all.
Now, to stick up for Lilblu, she isn't making this up out of whole cloth. Right here on eHell, we have seen that a few -- not all -- authorities do (or did) say that even if you don't attend, you should send a gift for every wedding invitation (at least "real" invitations, not courtesy or mass invitations) you receive. I don't agree with that, but we have seen it. But to logically extend that to "Therefore, as those issuing the invitations know that their guests will be thus obliged, every wedding invitation is always fairly viewed as a demand for a gift" is just ridiculous: by definition, then, all wedding invitations would then be rude. (Unless, I guess, they say "no gifts please," which wouldn't be rude but would be incorrect -- see above!
) And it may be that, perhaps because of the beliefs she referenced, that is exactly the logic Lilblu wants etiquette to follow, and therefore brand all weddings and invitations as rude.
I can't help but feel that the real reason for this post was to try to get eHell sanction for using the occasion to communicate to her relatives her feelings about weddings, gifts, and perhaps their motives in sending her the invitation. And that is simply not okay -- and come to think of it, it wouldn't be okay even if she knew for sure that they really did expect a gift from her. She is more than entitled to her beliefs, and I am not saying she isn't right -- maybe she would persuade us all, who knows. But that's not the point -- whether you are right or wrong, you just don't use the occasion of a wedding or an invitation to criticize or question others' beliefs. If you get an invitation to a flat earth seminar or anti-puppy festival, just politely decline.
Lilblu, I don't know if you are even still following this thread. But if you are, and you want some help formulating a response, here is a suggestion. As others have said, use either the response card if they sent one, or any piece of stationery, or a greeting card. Write something like,
"Dear Cousin Lulabelle,
Thank you for the lovely [or just "your"] invitation. Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend. I look forward to meeting Dagwood someday. My best wishes for a lovely day and for a long and happy life together.
Love [or "yours" or "sincerely" or "fondly" or whatever feels right, or nothing at all],
As for a gift, decide if there are any family dynamics that you care about that outweigh your anti-gift beliefs, and make your decision accordingly. Either giving or not giving a gift is fine. I know there are many who don't like charitable contributions as gifts, but in my community they are very common, so maybe that would work for you as a sort of compromise with yourself in this situation -- provided you are very
careful to choose a charity you are sure they
If this feels unsatisfying to you because you aren't getting something in there about your beliefs about weddings, gifts, or her motives, then I don't think that you are going to find the help you need here.