Wedding Guest Etiquette: Gifting

As a wedding guest, the rules around gift-giving have evolved. There are some set rules and some gray areas to navigate. Today I’m talking all about wedding guest etiquette – gifting and the general do’s and don’ts.

Keep it Simple and Stick to the Registry…Unless

Couples register for a reason. You can’t go wrong with giving them what you know they want. Unless you’re very close and you are confident in giving a unique or personalized gift that they will love based on their home, lifestyle, and favorite things. But the registry keeps it easy for you and promises them a gift they will love.

When to Give Money

Often monetary gifts are gifts given by immediate family. However, if you know that your friends have been saving up for months for their big day, supporting their efforts with cash could feel right to you. If cash isn’t a gift you like to give, consider a honeymoon experience or contributing to their honeymoon fund, if they have one.

If you do give cash, make sure it’s in a sealed envelope and placed in a designated secure location at the event. If there isn’t one, it’s best to send a check.

Gift cards can feel impersonal but they are another way to go. Give a gift card if you know it’s for a place they will appreciate. If they are renovating a home, perhaps a home depot card. If you know the restaurant of their first date, a gift card there could be sweet. If they love to cook, consider their favorite place to shop. Gift cards can be personal if the thought is there.

When to Bring Gifts to the Wedding

Never. If you can avoid it, don’t bring a gift to a wedding. It’s more headache and risk for the couple. Ship the gift via the registry or to the couple’s home before the big day. This is especially true if it’s a destination wedding. No one wants to check that extra luggage getting home.

What About Destination Weddings?

The old rule of thumb was that your attendance at a destination wedding was gift enough. With about half of couples saying I do somewhere else, that rule has started to shift. I think it’s still appropriate to give a gift and go to the destination wedding.

What if I Don’t Attend the Wedding?

Traditional wedding guest etiquette says that you are not obligated to send a gift. But if you can afford it, it would be nice to celebrate the couple regardless of what your schedule says. At the very least, send your congrats and well wishes and acknowledge the event.

When Do I Send?

The old rule is a wedding gift should be received by the end of the first year of marriage. Though not many couples today know that rule so the sooner the better (even before the big day is appropriate). You don’t want your loved ones thinking you forgot them for a year!

Wedding guest etiquette for gifting can be complicated. It’s important to remember that there are not many hard and fast rules when it comes to gifting, but there are some general guidelines that will help you avoid any awkward situations.

For more wedding guest etiquette tips, check out my story on summer wedding invitees.