But it's pretty expected that once an invitation is sent out, it's more or less final. But not in this young woman's story.
My (20F) cousin Isabelle (26F) is getting married in January. I chose a set of Royal Albert plates from the gift registry and they've already been delivered. The invitation said the ceremony would be first, followed immediately by meals and guests would start making their way to the reception hall. Invitation also said to 'be prepared for a night of drinking and dancing' at the reception.
A couple of days ago Isabelle called me, we made some small talk. She then said she wanted to call just to confirm I knew the reception was more for partying, and it isn't really suitable for me considering I'm not even 21. I said I'm fine drinking water and soda, but she replied the capacity for the reception hall is smaller so they're not including younger guests.
Mind you this is a child free wedding so there isn't really any 'younger' guests, I get not wanting to have kids around for the reception.
Isabelle said I'm invited to the ceremony and dinner. I was confused and told her this is really weird, the invitation said ceremony and reception. She replied she's sorry for the misunderstanding but it said there would be drinking and stuff.
Eventually I told her okay, I respect that but if she could kindly send the plates back so I can get a refund. Isabelle asked why, because I'm going to be there for the most important part and they've included me in the catering.
I said I was expecting to attend the entire wedding, not half and I bought the gift based on that. I might not attend at all now, so she needs to send the plates back and I'll decide another suitable gift, if any.
She said no one takes back gifts and it's not like I'm uninvited, if I don't want to come now that's on me and I've already gotten the gift.
I also got a text from my other cousin (Isabelle's sister) that I'm making a scene (she's 19 by the way and attending the reception. I know another cousin the same age as me is attending the reception), and I think Isabelle's talked to other relatives about it. My fiance thinks I'm okay though. So was I the AH asking to return the plates?
Later, OP added an update:
I have a small update. I just got off the phone with my mom because I wanted to ask her if they'd picked a gift for Isabelle yet, otherwise they can potentially take mine and the whole situation. She said Isabelle called her also and said they're welcome to the ceremony, but the reception is more for friends and partying. My parents are definitely above 21 and they also had ceremony and reception on their invitation.
Parents were planning to gift money so they haven't given it yet. They think it was really rude of Isabelle to invite then uninvite, and they might attend the ceremony but not sure. And I am officially confusion. Why not just have ceremony on our invitations in the first place??
Reddit had a lot of opinions on this, but mostly ruled in the favor of OP.
NTA (Not the a-hole). You were uninvited. Of course you're free to request your gift back. Classy? Probably not but that's not the brides theme anyways.
The bride uninvited her from the reception, so OP uninvited her as a gift-receiver. And her reason was also so meh. What about adults that don't drink? Does she throw people from the reception that aren't at least some intoxicated after one hour?
But Due-Operation-708 says:
Yeah, obviously you're an AH. You're communicating 'I didn't actually buy you a gift because I wish you well in your marriage or care about you as family. I saw it as my admission ticket to a party.' Way to make the family relationship transactional.
It's understandable that they have concerns about having people legally prohibited from drinking at a party with a lot of alcohol. In some ways, that's responsible. But, her communication sucked. So ESH (everyone sucks here).
To which OP responded:
Okay I get where you're coming from. I know at least 2 others under 21 attending the reception. And I don't mean to make it transactional, but these are $160 plates. A part of the gift giving for me personally, is a thank you for hosting the whole event, inviting me, making me a part of it. But you've invited me, then uninvited me from a portion. I could use that $160 for a lot of other things.
Uninvited to the only part of the wedding worth going to. No one except folks with one foot in grave gives a rats ass about the actual ceremony. Most people are there for a free party with friends and family.
And Salt-Firefighter-194 is suspicious:
The bride was grifting by inviting people she doesn't really care about to the cheap part of the day where she just has to pay for a chair, and then only wanting people she actually cares about at the reception. I see this a lot in weddings as a way to rack up gifts. It is why I only attend weddings of people I'm actually close to.
You never uninvite people because of numbers who have already accepted, also the age is clearly false due to the 19 year old still getting to go. The real answer is 'I want to prioritise other people and don't value your attendance' to which asking for the gift back is petty but understandable.
If you boot people from your party, it's not a good look to hold onto their gift. Good luck, OP!