This is one of the most common questions when it comes to wedding etiquette and gift giving tradition. If you are asking yourself if this is a strict rule of wedding etiquette and if it can be applied with different degrees of strictness, than this article will help you find the answer.
Keep in mind: You get an A+ for sending regrets ASAP. It’s amazing how many invited guests do not respond to save the date cards which they get from the happy couple.
The family member (or a close friend) has cited the standard guideline for gift giving – If invited to a wedding ceremony & reception party, a gift is sent regardless of whether or not the invited guest comes. This may sound a bit silly, but it’s actually a common practice. So, yes, that is the black & white answer. In a best case scenario, those invited to a ceremony are close enough to bride and groom or their families which they wish to give a present regardless of whether they will come or they will stay at home watching movies.
The situation you found yourself in presents the logical exception to the rule. If someone isn’t close to the happy couple (or their close families) they can skip the gift giving tradition if declining wedding invitations. This is usually the case when the bride and groom get overly excited and invite to the ceremony basically anyone who was ever important to one of them – a good pal from college who has not been seen since, however swore a pinky oath to be there on the wedding (as silly as it may sound now). From your college days’ perspective, you have played (probably) the most important as well as a very influential role in their student days, and they might want to honor that ‘allegiance.’ For the bride and groom, college roommates are turning what was a pro relationship into a social one, and you should consider the good old saying that says: “Don’t mix it – it gives you a hangover!”
I believe you have come up with the very best decision. Your personal note to both bride and groom is actually a present in itself and one which perfectly shows the caring and important role you have played in a college days. I am quite sure a roommate will love your note as much as an expensive present.