I have a good friend I'll call Patty. I've known Patty for over a decade, and as we are quite close (I was a bridesmaid in her wedding), I've met her sister, Carrie, on a few occasions as well. However, I haven't seen or spoken to her sister in several years, and we've never had more than a five-minute conversation at any of Patty's parties or events.
Recently, I was invited to Carrie's bridal shower and her wedding. I feel strange about this because although I am close with Patty, I barely know her sister at all. I'm going to decline both invitations, but what's bothering me is the gift situation. I was taught that an invitation is an obligation for a gift, but quite honestly I am having a hard time with the idea of having to send a shower and a wedding gift to someone I've only met a few times in my life. And this seems to be a trend--in the past few years I've been invited to several weddings for brides and grooms I hardly know, but who have tenuous connections to my family. I'm starting to wonder if invitations are just sent out to anyone and everyone in the hopes of receiving more gifts from guests who are sure to decline. (On the few occasions I've met her, Carrie has displayed extremely cheap behavior, so this doesn't seem entirely out of the question as a motive.)
So my question is--do these rules of etiquette still hold? Is an invitation an obligation to send a gift?
(Oh, and as an aside--Carrie had to call her sister to get my address, because she doesn't have my email address or my phone number. That's how little we know each other.)