Wedding Gift Etiquette

A wedding gift tied with a black ribbon

The proper etiquette for giving or receiving a wedding gift makes it easy to know how much to spend or how to respond. Knowing what gifts are appropriate and the best way to handle wedding gifting saves everyone time and money while preventing a social faux pas.

Gift Etiquette for the Happy Couple

While most couples know they need to send thank you notes, there are a few more etiquette points they should keep in mind when it comes to wedding gifts.

Asking for Gifts

It's never acceptable to ask for gift. There are no loopholes to this rule. It's bad form to request a specific gift, and it's considered poor etiquette to mention a gift registry on an invitation or special mailing. It is also not appropriate to ask for a gift of money. To review: it's very poor wedding gift etiquette for the bride-to-be, groom-to-be, and their friends or family to hint for or recommend a gift.

If wedding guests or friends and family ask where the couple is registered, then it is acceptable to disclose the registry information. Word of mouth is the only traditionally acceptable form of sharing registry information.

Wedding Gift Table

In some regions, banquet halls will have a gift table set up upon which guests can leave wedding presents for the happy couple. If this is the case, the bride and groom should have designated one or two members of the wedding party to handle the collection of these gifts at the end of the day. The gifts will then be brought to a previously agreed upon location. These gifts will most likely be opened after the honeymoon.

In the Event of a Cancellation

No one ever wants to think the wedding will be cancelled, yet these things happen. Wedding gifts should never be used before the wedding. If the wedding is cancelled, all gifts should be returned to those who bought them. This includes wedding shower gifts.

Thank You Cards

There's no excuse for not properly thanking anyone who gives a wedding gift. A thank you note must be written within a couple of weeks upon returning from the honeymoon. While one month is the rule, the happy couple should never take that long to thank their guests. After all, these people took the time to not only attend the special day, but to pick out and purchase a gift. Certainly gratitude should be given in a timely manner.

Money Trees

Setting up a money tree or stand, or having a money dance during the wedding is considered very poor etiquette by traditional standards. A couple may not ask for cash, but they may wish to register at a web site that guests can give to, such as a special honeymoon or home fund. Remember if the couple registers for monetary gifts, it is still considered a registry and they should not include this information in invitations or mailings.

Wedding Gift Etiquette for Guests

While some guests may think all that's involved in gift giving is printing out a registry and picking an item, it should be noted that it's not that simple. There are rules regarding wedding gift etiquette.

When to Send a Gift

Traditionally, one has up until a full year after the wedding to send a wedding gift, but this is truly pushing it. Typically gifts should be sent no later than three months after the wedding, and to even wait this long can be considered rude. Most people choose to send a gift as soon as the invitations are sent out or to bring one along to the wedding. The preference is to send the gift before the wedding. This way, no one has to worry about collecting gifts after the wedding and getting them to the home of the bride and groom.

How Much to Spend

There's a rumor floating around that the cost of a wedding gift should equal the cost of the guest's meal. This is not true. The gift giver can give whatever she chooses, no matter how much the hosts spent on dinner. Whether ten or one thousand dollars is spent on a gift, the bride and groom should accept it graciously and appreciate the thought.

The Registry

Most brides register for gifts ahead of time. By referring to a registry, the gift giver knows she's giving the happy couple something they want, and even more important, something they don't already own. However, this isn't to say gifts have to be purchased from a registry. A wedding guest is free to shop for a gift wherever she chooses.

Giving Money

Is it appropriate to give money? Absolutely, if that's your preference. Bringing a gift of some kind is proper etiquette for those attending a wedding, whether it is a material item or monetary gift. Most couples are glad to receive cash as they can use it to purchase items off the registry they did not receive or in any other way they desire. Give the amount you feel comfortable giving. The amount is often dictated by the guest's relationship with the couple; those close to the bride and/or groom often wish to give a more substantial monetary gift than an acquaintance might.

Wedding Present Etiquette Wrapped Up

By asking about registries and considering the needs and personalities of the happy couple, guests can give wonderful gifts that the bride and groom will be thrilled to receive. The bride and groom should focus on sharing their special day with those they care about; by not making gifts the focus of the occasion and following a few simple steps, they can easily be gracious recipients of any wedding gift, whether it is an expensive registry item or simply the gift of someone's presence on their wedding day.

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Wedding Gift Etiquette