A Guide To Wedding Gift Etiquette
Once you've received an invitation to a shower, wedding, engagement party or bachelor/bachelorette party, the questions begin.
- Am I expected to bring a gift?
- How much should I spend?
- What’s an appropriate gift idea?
Costs can quickly mount, especially if you are invited to several weddings close together. You want to show your support and love for your family member or friend, but you also don’t want to break your budget. Your gift should be something that the happy couple will find useful, thoughtful or beautiful, but also within your spending limitations.
Are You Invited To An Engagement Party?
Many couples want to celebrate their love and good fortune at finding each other by sharing their happiness at an engagement party. Usually a fairly small event with close friends and family, an engagement party is likely to be somewhat casual in nature. It is not required to bring a gift to such a party, but most people like to bring a small token of their good will and happiness for the engaged couple. Your gift should be something the couple can enjoy together or a helpful item for wedding planning. Nice ideas are a selection of mini bottles of good wine, or very helpful guides for the bride and the groom to plan and enjoy their wedding.
Are You Invited To A Shower?
By the time wedding showers roll around, the engaged couple usually have a gift registry established. That makes it easier to choose a gift, but it is not mandatory to buy something off the registry. Depending on your personal finances and your relation to the engaged couple, plan on spending between $25 and $75 for a shower gift.
The type of shower will help you decide on your gift. If it’s a women-only event, choose something fun for the bride, such as personalized bridal flip-flops or a set of pillowcases spelling out the couple’s status as soul mates. A theme shower, such as lingerie or kitchen, makes it easy to choose an appropriate gift. Focus on the couple if the shower is co-ed, with a gift both can enjoy, like quirky wine glasses or travel-themed candles.
Are You Going To A Bachelor/Bachelorette Party?
A last-fling-before-the-wedding party is generally a wild and fun occasion for the bride or groom-to-be to celebrate with their friends. Not formal or stuffy and often held away from home, gifts are optional at such a party, but small gifts are commonly given to the guest of honor. It is also quite common for the bridesmaids or the groomsmen to arrange to purchase a large gift, with all attendees chipping in toward the cost.
If you decide to take a gift to a bachelor/bachelorette party, choose something fairly inexpensive, fun and perhaps a gag gift. Lingerie, hobby-related items or gifts the couple can enjoy on their honeymoon are also popular choices.
What About The Wedding Gift?
You might wonder if it is necessary to send a wedding gift even if you are unable to attend the ceremony. The answer is yes, you are generally expected to send a gift even if you do not attend the wedding. It is also customary to give a gift both at the shower and for the wedding. Though gifts are often brought to the ceremony or reception, and there is usually a gift table in place to deposit them, it is better to ship your gift to the home of the bride’s parents, the engaged couple or the bride in advance of the wedding. You can also send your gift after the wedding, but try to send it within three months of the celebration.
How Much Should You Spend?
One of the most difficult questions is how much to spend on a wedding gift. The answer depends on your own financial situation and how close you are to the engaged couple. You do not need to match a certain price or spend the same dollar amount the family is spending per person for the wedding reception. Usually, you can find a gift on the registry that matches your budget. If not, buy a less-expensive gift that you know the couple will love and find useful, and include a thoughtful, handwritten note. It is also good etiquette to include a gift receipt with your present in case the item needs to be returned.
It is also very common, and usually much appreciated by the wedding couple, to make a gift of cash or a check. If you are doing so, be sure to give the envelope to the best man or a parent of the bride or groom, the most typical people to be assigned the task of holding money gifts. There may be a box or holder for envelopes on the gift table at the reception.
What Should You Buy the Happy Couple?
Using the couple’s gift registry makes it easy to choose the right thing, but you are free to follow your own preferences. If the couple is young and just starting out, kitchen needs and entertaining necessities are always good choices. A more established couple might prefer a luxury item, or a special item for their home. If the newlyweds are planning a spectacular honeymoon, something that will help them remember their trip would be a nice choice.
Next to the birth of a child, a wedding is the biggest event in most people’s lives. If you are invited to the wedding of a family member, friend or coworker, help make the day even more special for the happy couple. A gift chosen with their likes and tastes in mind is sure to be treasured.