The invitations have arrived and the RSVPs have been sent. Whether you are replying yes with pleasure or no with regret, there is one constant to being invited to a wedding: gifts.
With wedding season in full swing, guests are preparing to head to the main event, but not before selecting a wedding gift for the happy couple. However, sometimes wedding gift giving isn’t so black and white. You might assume your presence for a destination wedding is gift enough. You could think you have a year to get the couple a gift. In order to avoid offending the bride or groom in the wedding gift department and as part of a wedding guests' wedding planning, we have answered some of the most commonly asked questions about wedding gift etiquette.
How Much Should I Spend?
One of the main questions guests have about wedding gifts boils down to cost. When you are budgeting for a wedding gift, you have to first look at your personal finances. Some wedding experts recommend spending anywhere from $50 to $100 on a wedding gift. Again, this is also dependent on your personal budget. You have to consider not only your budget but also your relationship to the couple. If you don’t really know the couple, a less extravagant gift will suffice. If your best friend is getting married, they might be disappointed if you shell out for the cheapest item on their registry. Bottom line, you should dictate how much you spend on a couple based on your comfort level financially and how well you know them.
What Should I Gift The Couple? Off The Registry or Stay On The Registry?
Wedding registries have become laundry lists of every need for the couple at nearly every conceivable store. Most couples tell you what they want, rather than leaving you guessing. However, as I have encountered after being invited to some weddings, there are couples that simply don’t register for enough. In this case, money might be more what they are after than kitchen gadgets and bathroom towels. Cash or a check is always a safe bet for a good gift the couple will appreciate.
On the other hand, some couples register for everything, leaving it hard to decide what to buy. If you want to stay on the registry, it is best to select gifts that go together rather than odds and ends. For example, a wine opener and wine rack make for a more complete wedding gift than one hand towel and an ice cream scoop. It is acceptable to stray off of the registry if you simply don’t see something you want to gift. While there is no guarantee that the couple wants the item, traditional and sentimental gifts like an engraved item tend to never go back to the store. Also you run less of a risk of buying something another guest has bought on the registry.
Should I Send My Gift Or Bring It To The Wedding?
While it was commonplace several years ago to physically bring your gift to the wedding, more and more guests are opting to send their gift to the bride’s home before the wedding. It can be more advantageous to send your gift, as you don’t have to lug it with you to the wedding or worry about your card getting lost in the shuffle at the wedding event location. Sending a gift ahead of time is always more beneficial to the couple as they too don’t have to haul it out of the wedding venue and back home.
If you want to bring your gift in person, be sure to secure your card with your gift. A simple placement on top will not do with wedding planners shuffling gifts into back rooms during the wedding. In the process, the couple might receive your gift but have no idea it is from you. Guests should secure their gifts, including money or a check in a card to ensure their gift doesn’t get passed over by the newlyweds.
Do Plus-Ones Need To Bring a Gift?
Many people don’t really know the couple at a wedding. They are merely plus-ones. And if you’re just someone’s date, with no relation to the couple, you might think you have scored a get-out-of-wedding-gift-giving card. While it isn’t completely necessarily, bringing a gift as a plus-one is a nice gesture. Technically, the couple didn’t need to allot your date a guest of their own but they did. You can say thank you by either going in on a gift with your date or merely bringing something small.
Is It Ever Acceptable To Not Buy A Wedding Gift?
For my wedding, several guests didn’t give us gifts. All of these guests came in from out of town for the wedding. While couples understand the costs associated with traveling for a wedding, guests should understand that it is a two-way street. Couples have spent a great deal of their hard earned cash to invite you, from the invitation to each meal. The least you can do is say thank you for their efforts with a small gift.
Even if you think your presence is gift enough for a destination wedding, etiquette experts tend to advise guests to always gift something. For destination weddings where the travel is extensive, this rule can be bent a bit. While your budget for a gift might be lower after spending money on accommodations and travel, the couple will appreciate something, no matter how small. For couples that have specifically advised “no gifts” on their invitations, you can respect their wishes. If you want to gift something, a charitable donation or again something small is also accepted.
For some guests, whether they send a gift often is dictated by if they can attend the wedding. Even if you can’t make it to the wedding, proper wedding etiquette maintains a gift should be sent for the gesture of the invitation.
Do I Have a Year To Send A Gift?
There are a number of old wedding myths pertaining to gifts. One of those is that you have a year from the date of the wedding to send a gift. While you could wait a whole year to send a gift, waiting that long after the wedding isn’t always considered the politest of behaviors. Most couples want to get their thank you notes over with within three months of the wedding day. If you send a surprise wedding gift closer to their one-year anniversary, they most likely have tossed the wedding thank you cards. To be in the best of wedding guest form, it is a good idea to send your gift before the wedding day or within three months of the wedding.
What has been your experience with wedding gift etiquette? Share your stories with us in the comments below.