Etiquette is a funny thing. It is a set of rules to help society function, and it works well (as long as you apply reason and good sense to it).
Etiquette rules often have opposite expectations for two parties in a relationship. When I started planning the wedding, I bought Emily Post's "Wedding Etiquette" to help me navigate the expectations without causing offense. (Great book, I found it so helpful!) It did cause some friction between Wade and me a couple times when the book clashed with common practice in our social circles.
For example, if a guest is in a relationship (even if you don't know the sigificant other), you are required to invite the date. (That makes sense.) Etiquette also indicates that the host/hostess is not required to offer guests the opportunity to bring a date ("plus one") when the guest is not in a long-term relationship. (I didn't realize that rule.) And Wade wanted to offer all our single friends a "plus one", which would have been nice but it was not practical due to space constraints. We had a very finite capacity for the meal, and we didn't want to over invite (um, awkward if 5 people eat their meal in a different room!) but we wanted to have as many friends as possible. If we invited "Sam + 1", we'd have to wait for the RSVP to find out if Sam is bringing someone or if we have an extra seat. (Of course, boy-friends, girl-friends, spouses, significant others, etc. were all invited even if we didn't know them.)
I think we made the right decision not to invite "plus ones" to those who weren't in a relationship because we ended up being surrounded by entirely friends & family we knew.
Another funny double-rule: the rules of gift expectations. You shouldn't give people "pity invites", nor should you invite people you know can not attend, because it looks like you are just fishing for a gift. As a guest, if you are invited to a wedding, you should get the couple a gift, regardless of if you are attending. According to Emily Post and her niece-in-law, Peggy Post, the gift should be just as good as if you were going to the wedding because the gift is not paying for dinner but is a gift given freely. (Note: I didn't know that part of etiquette until I read it in the book. I suspect most people don't know that etiquette expectation. And I am not offended that most people don't seem to know that, either!)
The curious double-expectation: the couple getting married should invite people they want there, and should not expect a gift from any guest.
I'm okay with that. The way I look at it, we didn't get married to get gifts. And we didn't invite guests to get gifts. We invited our family, friends and our family-friends (some were parent's friends who I didn't know well, but that's fine) to celebrate our wedding. We had about 100 guests for dinner (due to room capacity) and another 20 for the dance reception. And we invited each person because we wanted them to be there. In fact, for the reception invitations, we put "Best Wishes Only" right on the invitation. (I read even putting "best wishes only" is an etiquette faux-pas because that implies we don't want gifts, which is dictating to people what we want for gifts.) I'm comfortble with the decision to put "best wishes only" because we wanted to say to people, "hey, come help us celebrate our wedding" not "hey, we want more gifts".
Over the past 4 days, I have finished all the thank-you notes to the guests who brought us gifts, to the guests who came to the reception only (even if they didn't bring a gift), and to my parent's neighbour (who were not invited, but who gave us a thoughtful gift to wish us well). Most of the guests who came to the reception only brought us a card or a small gift, though some did not bring anything (which was fine with me). I wrote all those guests who were invited to the reception only a thank you note thanking them for helping us to celebrate our wedding, because I truly am thankful that they came (and if they brought a gift, I thanked them for the gift, obviously).
But I have not written thank-you notes for the couple guests who were at the whole day who did not bring a gift. Technically, they have one year to give me the gift. Not to mention, I am not supposed to expect a gift from them, and I don't expect a gift. I won't be offended if I never get a gift.
But I'm torn: do I send a note thanking them for attending (especially since one of them had a role in the wedding)? They deserve a note of thanks for their support. But I might look like I'm fishing for a gift, since they didn't get a gift. I don't need a gift, and I'm not fishing for a gift.
What is the best thing to do? Send a thank-you note for their help and for attending (which did mean a lot to me), or not send anything (so I don't look like I'm fishing for a gift)?
5 hours ago