Dear Marcie,†

A while back friends of mine and my husbandís got engaged. They're very close to us, and when the wedding approached, we decided to get them a very expensive wedding gift. Now they've broken up.?We were devastated to hear this, as it's been very hard on them both.?But one thing that we were wondering about was the wedding present - is it appropriate for one of them to keep it??I thought they should give it back, but I don't think they're going to. I can't bring myself to ask them about it, but I was just wondering what the etiquette was in a situation like this.

STILL HAVE THE RECEIPT

Dearest Empathy,††††

Iím saddened to hear the news of your dearest friends. Cancellation of a wedding can be heartbreaking and incredibly traumatic, not only for the bride and groom, but for all parties involved. †No doubt your friends are feeling vulnerable and embarrassed by the events that have unfolded for the world to observe, and the fate of the gifts they received prior to the scheduled wedding is probably not on the forefront of their minds.† Handle with care.† And, while you and your husband may freely discuss your friendsí dramatic twist amongst yourselves, try to avoid discussing it heavily outside the home. †There will be much sensitivity surrounding this event, and what your friends need most are your thoughts and prayers, rather than anything that might be perceived as gossip.†

Once the dust settles, the issue of etiquette will certainly arise.† It is indeed proper etiquette to have the gifts returned to the presenter, whether by the intended bride or the groom, and it is not uncommon for close family or wedding party members to assist in this matter. †It is quite possible, and in conformity with proper practice, that you will receive a brief handwritten explanation regarding the cancellation, issued either by the couple or an appointed family member.† Under NO circumstances should you attempt to directly contact the bride or groom on the subject until there has been some form of declaration.† I certainly wouldnít expect the gift return to occur in less than a few weeks, or even a few months, considering the circumstances. In the end, if you never see the gift again, focus on whatís important and let it go.† As friends to the couple, remember that the monies spent on the gift were a heartfelt token of your affection. †The best gift now is to keep that affection in your heart and be ready to accommodate your friendsí needs as they open up and look to you to help comfort them during this time of heartache and even humiliation.