The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Gift Etiquette

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The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Gift Etiquette

Summer wedding season is in full swing! And if you’ve got one of those lacey white invitations stuck to your fridge, congratulations on being included on your loved one’s big day. In addition to planning your wedding-guest wardrobe and your travel plans, you’ll need to decide on a gift—which can be stressful when you want to impress the couple with something they’ll love! To help take the stress out of the big day, try these guidelines for wedding gift-giving etiquette everyone will celebrate.

How much should I spend on a wedding gift?

You may have heard that the value of your present should exceed the cost of your place at the wedding and reception. But this is not a hard and fast rule. First, you have to look at your budget. It’s better to give a thoughtful and meaningful gift purchased within your means, than to break the bank on a gift you can’t afford. After all, this is a celebration of love and support!

As for setting a budget, the closer you are to the couple, the more you may want to spend on a gift. If the bride is your sister or best friend, the value of the gift will most likely be higher than if she is your coworker. Set an amount you can afford, and only look for gifts that stay within your gift-giving budget.

Should I give cash?

Giving cash is a fantastic gift option! Many newlyweds prefer cash, especially established couples who already have a blender and a salad spinner. On the day of the wedding, place your cash gift among the other presents if you have wrapped it in a box. If you are giving an envelope, you may hand it directly to the bride or groom, or many modern weddings have a card collection basket for this very reason. If you give a check on the wedding day, make it out to either the bride (using her maiden name!) or the groom, whomever you know better. To mail a check after the wedding, address the check in the style of, “Rebecca OR Jack Pearson.” Using OR allows one member of the couple to deposit the check; AND requires both signatures, and the bride may not have changed her name.

Do I have to bring a gift?

You are never obligated to give a gift at any event, but it is always good form if you attend the wedding (and the couple will probably notice if you don’t give a gift). If you are unable to attend the wedding, it’s polite to send a congratulatory card, with or without a gift. Again, your choice may depend on how close you are to the couple.

What is an appropriate wedding gift?

Before purchasing a wedding gift, ask if the wedding couple is registered at any stores. If so, it is always preferred to select a gift from the registry. If they are not registered, you may want to ask the wedding couple or someone close to them what is needed. Be considerate of the couple’s personal tastes when purchasing a gift. This is not the time to get what you would like to receive!

What do I do when the invitation says “no gifts”?

Rarely will you see mention of wedding gifts on the invitation, but some couples will add “no gifts, please” to let you know that all they want is the gift of joyous celebration. It is best to respect their wishes. An alternate option is to ask if they would like for you to donate something to their favorite charity in honor of their wedding.

What if the wedding is canceled?

If the wedding is canceled, etiquette dictates that the couple should send back their gifts, but don’t assume they know this. If the couple keeps your gift despite a canceled wedding, consider it an oversight during this stressful time, and let it go. Never ask for your gift back!

When should I expect to receive a thank-you note?

When you give a wedding gift, especially if you send it by mail, a thank-you note is a confirmation that the couple has received and is enjoying your gift. Just don’t hold your breath for this note! It’s a widespread rule of thumb that couples have at least a year after their big day to send their wedding thank-you notes, but that is a very long time to write a couple sentences. But how late is too late? Modern etiquette advice says that wedding thank-you notes should be sent within three months of the big day.

In conclusion

With these tips, you’re sure to ace gift-giving at the next wedding you attend. Just remember the most important tip of all: the wedding couple invited you to share in the joy of their special day, not to give them an extravagant present. The best gift is always the present of your presence!

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