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Wedding Gift Etiquette Do's And Don'ts

There is a specific rule for handling even the smallest of wedding details. Wedding gifts are no exception. Trying to do the right thing is hard enough, and knowing which rule to follow can sometimes seem even more daunting than picking the right gift.

Buying the Perfect Gift

The stress of deciding what to buy the happy couple has not changed over the years. With the tradition of choosing a bride came the tradition of friends and family bearing gifts, which were functional and useful additions to the couple's home. This tradition has not changed.

Appropriate wedding gifts today run the gamut from fine china and small household appliances, to gardening tools and camping equipment, to money and gift certificates. Bridal registries greatly simplify the search for the right gift. Couples may register for gifts with two or more stores, Web sites, or even travel agents and brokerage houses. It is, however, perfectly acceptable to give something not on the list. The registry is simply a guide. Registry information is usually obtained word of mouth or can be included as an insert to a shower invitation, but should never be found on a wedding invitation.

To Give or Not to Give

Guests invited to the wedding have an obligation to send a gift, whether they are attending or not. There are few exceptions. If you live far away from where the wedding is taking place and have been out of touch with the couple for several years and you are not planning to attend the wedding, there is no need to send a gift.

The formula for figuring out how much to spend is on the gift is rather simple - base it on your affection for, and relationship with, the couple. Basing the cost of your gift on how much the bride and groom are spending on entertaining each person at the reception is a myth. A gift should be from the heart and money should not be an issue, but stay within your budget. Don't feel obligated to spend more than you can afford. Should you decide to give money, write a check. If it's before the wedding, make it out to either the bride (using her maiden name) or the groom. If it's after, make it out to "Mr. & Mrs."

If the invitation states, "No Gifts, Please" or requests, in lieu of gifts, a donation to a charity, then do so. Should you feel inclined to purchase a gift anyway, a thoughtful gift is always appreciated.

When to Send Your Gift

Although wedding etiquette states that guests have up to one year after the wedding to send a gift, avoid waiting until the last minute. Send the gift with your RSVP. If you are not attending, send the gift before the wedding. Whether to mail or bring the gift is often decided regionally. The East Coast tends to send a gift, while the Midwest tends to bring the gift to the reception.

Check with the family of the bride or whoever is hosting the reception. If you are sending the gift, have it delivered to the bride's home or to her parents' home before the wedding. When gifts are sent after the wedding, send it to the couple at their new address. When a couple is living together before the wedding, send the gifts to their home or to the bride's parents if they are hosting the wedding. Often, the registry information will list where they want gifts sent.

With these guidelines to wedding gift etiquette, your gift is sure to arrive at the right place, at the right time, and be just what they wanted.

Wedding Planning Tips and Ideas

Engagement Photo

Display your engagement photo at the wedding reception. Attach a pen and encourage guests to sign the mat. It will make a great keepsake!

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