A Complete Guide to Wedding Gift Giving Etiquette

Wedding Gift Etiquette And What To Give

In the United States, research suggests that there are over 2 million marriages every year. In most cases, people are unified in the institution of marriage through the wedding ceremony. Indeed, one of the core components of the wedding ceremony is the exchange of vows between the people getting married. However, wedding ceremonies also involve an equally important component, the presentation of wedding gifts.

Guests to the wedding ceremony often have to make decisions such as what to wear for the occasion and in most cases, which gift to present to the couple. On the other hand, couples grapple with the challenges that come with receiving the gift. However, neither the wedding couple nor the guests should stress about gift giving or gift receiving. There are some simple rules which if followed, will undoubtedly make it easier to give or receive a gift. It is these rules that form the core framework of wedding gift etiquette.

Wedding Gift Etiquette for Guests

One of the biggest dilemmas guests face is whether or not to present a wedding gift to the couple. There is a common consensus that while one is not under any obligation to give the wedding couple a gift, it is always a good gesture to do so particularly if one is attending the wedding.


In a situation where one is invited to the wedding but is unable to attend, it is advisable to send the newly wedded couple at least a congratulatory card. However, one may send the card with or without a wedding gift. Alternatively, one may choose to present a gift together with others. For example, co-workers may all contribute to a single wedding gift. Guests wishing to give gifts must follow certain rules;

1. Deciding on What Gift to Get

Many people tend to get overly creative when trying to decide on an ideal wedding gift. However, the truth is that in most cases, none of these complexities are required. A majority of brides tend to have a wedding registry list detailing the gifts they would like to receive. Some have these registries online while others have them in brick and mortar stores. Some couples even have wedding web pages which link to their online wedding registry.

Many experts recommend buying a wedding gift that is on the registry. Even when one does not wish purchase a gift that is on the registry, he/she may use the registry to get an idea of the tastes and styles of the couple. However, some couples may not have a registry. In such a situation one may consult with family relations or friends of the couple to identify the most appropriate wedding gift.

2. How Much to Spend

Some people tend to determine how much they will spend on a wedding gift based on the cost of the wedding itself. Ultimately, guests may find themselves presenting an inexpensive gift simply because the wedding ceremony was a casual and simple affair. According to many wedding etiquette experts, however, this is an inappropriate approach to deciding how much to spend.

Instead, it is advisable for guests to determine the budget of the wedding gift based on the nature of their relationship with the couple. In this respect, guests who share a rather distant relationship such as a co-working relationship or a distant family member or family friend may purchase the more inexpensive wedding gifts in the range between $50 and $75.

On the other hand, a very close relative or friend may spend up to $150 on a gift while an urbanite may spend more than $200. Whatever the case, guests should avoid spending less than $50 on wedding gifts. Most importantly, however, one must stay within their budget when buying wedding gifts.

3. Bringing the Gift to the Ceremony

A couple of years back, it was commonplace for guests to carry the wedding gifts to the wedding. This also meant that the wedded couple had to grapple with the challenge of transporting the gifts to their homes.

With the advent of the internet and online shopping, however, it is no longer fashionable to bring the gift to the wedding ceremony. Further, it is a possibility that the wedding gift may get damaged or worse, lost.

Rather than bring it to the ceremony itself, one simply has to identify an ideal wedding gift, pay for it and have it delivered to the newlyweds’ home. One of the best things about this is that it eliminates the challenge of transporting the gift to and from the wedding ceremony.

It is also advisable to let the couple know who the gift is from and provide an address. ┬áThe address will help the couple know where to send a “Thank You” note.

4. When to Send the Wedding Gift

Another dilemma people often face is in regards to the ideal time to send the wedding gifts to the couple. Some have suggested that it is possible to send wedding gifts as much as a year after the wedding. However, according to wedding etiquette experts, this notion is highly distorted. It is highly advisable to send the wedding gift anytime in the three months before the wedding or anytime in the three months after the wedding. The convenience of online shopping also means that people have few or no excuses for the delay in sending a gift.

5. On the Issue of Cash Gifts

It is no secret that financial resources are essential for newlywed couples. With this in mind, there are those who may feel that cash gifts are the best wedding gifts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this argument, neither is there anything wrong with presenting a cash gift.

However, if one opts on giving a cash gift before the wedding, it is recommended to give it in the form of a check. If it is not possible to give the couple a check, then one may present a liquid cash gift either directly (into the hands) of the bride or groom or in a box or guarded basket.

best wedding gifts

6. Dealing with the “No Gifts” Request

Wedding ceremonies provide an opportunity for people to celebrate love, laugh and share the joy of love with friends and family. There are those couples who feel that this is the ultimate objective of a wedding ceremony. Such couples may even make a relatively unusual request for guests not to buy any gifts.

In such situations, it is still possible to give the couple a gift. Alternatively, one may ask whether he/she can donate something to a charity of their choice.

7. What if the Wedding is canceled?

One of the risks of sending wedding gifts before the actual wedding ceremony takes place is that there is a small risk of cancellation. In a situation where a marriage gets canceled, one must remember that it is impolite and a bit insensitive to ask for the wedding gist back.

Subsequently, if a wedding is canceled, it is desirable to over-look the cancellation and not ask for the gift back. However, it is important to note that wedding etiquette requires the bride and the groom to send back wedding gifts upon cancellation of the event.

8. Dealing with Divorce or Annulment

Sometimes, differences between couples as well as other factors may trigger a divorce or annulment of the marriage soon after the actual wedding ceremony. As mentioned in number 7 above, it is polite and respectful to let the divorced couple keep the wedding gifts.

9. Wedding Shower Gifts

In most cases, there are some wedding-related ceremonies in the run-up to the actual wedding ceremony. For example, couples may have an engagement party while brides may have a bridal shower.

Etiquette experts note that guests are expected to bring wedding gifts to each of these units. It is therefore advisable to identify an appropriate budget for the different gifts that an individual wants to buy. Nonetheless, guests should dedicate a higher portion of their budgets to the wedding gifts.

10. Dealing with Wedding Dates and Members of The Wedding Party

If one intends on attending the wedding ceremony with a date, then buying wedding gifts together is ideal. However, if possible, it would not hurt to buy separate wedding gifts; within the gift-budget of course.

On the other hand, there are those who falsely believe that since they are members of the wedding party, a gift is not necessary. The truth of the matter is that wedding party members are often special to the bride and the groom; their wedding gifts to the couple are special too.

Wedding Gifts for Second Wedding

Research suggests that the number of second (and sometimes even third and fourth) weddings have increased over the years. Given the increasingly high divorce rates in the country, this is hardly a surprise. Guests invited to a second (or third and fourth) wedding ought to consider the following rules;

1. To Give or Not to Give

Once again, this is one of the major most dilemmas guests to second weddings face. At the end of the day, the wedding is still a celebration of love and the beginning of a new life for the bride or groom. Therefore, while guests are not mandated to give wedding gifts, it is the right thing to do as it represents their support and positive thoughts for the bride and the groom.

2. Type of Gift

The second dilemma is in regards to the type of gift one should get for a second marriage. Indeed, many of those getting married for the second time already have the things they need to start a life together. This is the time for guests to get a little bit creative with their wedding gifts. For example, one may offer to give a money gift to help with the expenses of the honeymoon while others may offer to babysit the children (if any) for the couple as they honeymoon. This is, therefore, the time to think more of wedding gifts that offer experiences for the couple.

Alternatively, gift cards are also an ideal wedding gift for couples getting married a second time. For example, store gift cards will allow the couple to choose something that they do not already have from the store.

3. Consider the Children as Well

The chances are that couples getting married for the second or third and fourth times already have kids from their previous marriages. If this is the case, then it is a thoughtful idea to give the couple family-oriented wedding gifts. For example, one may choose to treat the couple and their children to dinner at a nice restaurant. Alternatively, one may opt to present a family-oriented gift basket to the couple.

4. Avoid Giving the Same Gifts as Before

One mistake some people often make is to buy the same gift they bought for the bride or groom for their previous weddings. Many wedding etiquette experts note that this is insensitive to the feelings of the groom or the bride (as it reminds them of the previous marriages) and is also embarrassing for both the person presenting the gift and the person receiving the gift. The golden rule is, therefore, to give a new gift altogether.

Wedding Gift Etiquette for the Wedding Couple

Wedding gift etiquette is not a one-way concept; it cuts both ways. This means that even the couple getting married must show some etiquette before and even after they receive wedding gifts. The three rules below are some of the most important for the wedding couple;

Wedding Gifts Etiquette

1. Do not Request for Gifts on the Wedding Invitation

These days, it is not uncommon to come across couples who have found creative ways of asking for wedding gifts of one kind or the other on wedding invitations. According to many experts, however, this is downright rude as it implies that wedding guests are obligated to present a gift to the couple getting married. Wedding invitations should only reflect the desire of the couple to have someone attend the special occasion and celebrate with them.

Instead, it is more respectful to draw up a wedding registry where guests can see the things that the couple desires. Another equally good idea is for the marrying couple to open up on the gift desires with close members of their wedding party. This way, the members of the wedding party can know what to tell guests when they consult them on which gifts to get the couple.

2. On the Question of Cancelled Weddings

Things go wrong and sometimes this may mean that the wedding gets canceled. If this happens, it is considered proper etiquette for the couple to return the gifts they got in advance for the canceled wedding ceremony.

3. Do not forget to Show Gratitude

Wedding gifts are symbols of support and goodwill for the couple getting married. In addition to that, guests often sacrifice a lot to get wedding gifts for the couple. It is therefore polite for the married couple to show gratitude to each and everyone who presented them with wedding gifts. One of the best ways to do this is with a “Thank You” note.

Additionally, the couple should make sure to send out the notes within at least three months. The timelier the note is, the better. It is also a good idea to send out personalized “Thank You” notes rather than generic ones.

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