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The Etiquette of Wedding Gift Giving

April 1, 2010

Gift giving for a wedding is not always easy.  Especially when many couples are now marring later in life, having been on their own for a few years and have an established home at the time of the marriage, or are combining households when they get married.  The traditional wedding gifts at this stage no longer apply.  In this case we suggest locating a gift registry that will allow people to put a percentage or a monetary amount towards a gift, effectively combining their purchasing power on something the two of you really want.  Such as a new big screen T.V. or the new bedroom set that you’ve both had you’re eye on.  Some wedding gift giving and etiquette to help you find that perfect wedding gift idea.

 

 



Wedding Gifts can be sent out as soon as guests receive invitations.  Most couples register with two to three stores.  Traditionally couples registered for china, crystals, or glassware, but today they can register for just about anything! The fine china and linens are still popular at favorite high end department stores, but with specialty stores and national chains like also offering gift registries the range of products becomes very broad, including unconventional items that maybe more appropriate for that couple, the sky is the limit as to what gifts may arrive. 

 

Gift registries are useful, but by no means mandatory.  It is considered presumptuous to list wedding registries in your invitations.  Guests who wish to find out where the couple might be registered should ask someone in the wedding party, a family member, or other people who are helping out with the planning. In other words, you rely on word of mouth rather than telling your guests directly where they might find a gift for you.  Many wedding websites do have a registries listing button.  Completing a registry can be helpful, but guests should not feel they must purchase something from your registry.  Some people may still prefer the element of surprise when giving a gift, or might have something personal in mind to give to the couple.  Contrary to popular belief, there is no calculable amount of money each person attending a wedding should spend on a wedding gift.  It is not the amount of money spent on the reception divided by the number of guests.  A gift should be a token of affection, and is not intended to pay for the wedding.  However, guests, do not send a gift that is in poor taste.  A wedding invitation carries with it an obligation to send a gift, even if you cannot attend the actual wedding.  Depending on your relationship with the couple, the gift can be small, or something more substantial.  When sending out invitations, keep in mind that guests who are invited may feel the need to send a gift whether or not they can attend.  So it might be a good idea to send just wedding announcements to those who live far away and may not be able to make it.  If for some reason the wedding is cancelled, it is absolutely necessary to return the gifts.

The bridal or wedding shower is the next event for the couple where gifts are purchased.  The shower is typically thrown for either just the bride although it is growing in popularity that the party is for the bride and groom together.  Shower gifts can be elaborate, or very casual depending on the type of gathering.  Such as if the party is at a park, a crystal chandelier is not really appropriate.  The tone is usually set by the hosts, and communicated to the guests in the invitation.

 

As a bride & groom, it is completely ok to ask for people to contribute towards the wedding, honeymoon, photography album....  Instead of having them buy you a gift for after the wedding, you can have individuals contribute towards items for the wedding itself that everyone can enjoy. Asking just for a cash gift may be a hard, so instead think of asking for someone to buy the ceremony flowers that will also double as the head table floral piece and perhaps a couple other locations such as for the gift table or registration table, or a case of wine to be served during the cocktail hour.  Don’t forget during the wedding to thank the person who provided it at some point during the night – they may adore the added recognition they get!

Gift giving should be FUN, not stressful.  Going in with others to give something the couple really wants can make it a fun experience since you can get something bigger.  It’s ok to ask other family members or other friends if its something they want to do – say instead of each buying a $50 gift, get 5 people together and buy a $200 gift, so you’re all saving a bit but ultimately giving something great.

Wedding Gift Ideas… great wedding gifts to give as a group:

    * Gift certificate to a major airline or a hotel chain or a site like Expedia so they can use it towards their honeymoon or at a later date.
    * Ceremony or tabletop flowers for the wedding
    * A case (or two) of wine to be used at cocktail hour or during dinner
    * Something for their home such as a plasma TV, a new bedroom set, washing machine, stove or dishwasher
    * Instead of products, get creative with services they may be able to enjoy — housecleaning services, cooking lessons, or perhaps a handyman to assist with all of those pesky honey-do’s etc

 

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