As an etiquette expert, I answer etiquette questions every day. Many of those concern wedding etiquette, especially when it involves giving gifts. This isn’t much of a surprise when the latest data provided by American Consumer Credit Counseling shows that the typical wedding guest spends approximately $539 just for the honor of attending. Of course, this data includes an expensive mix of lodging and childcare. However, attending the shower, bachelor and bachelorette parties contributes much of this sum as well.
Follow along as I share my answers to actual wedding-gift etiquette questions.
Must I buy the gift from the registry? The couple registered at a higher end department store with items such as a $300 espresso machine. I know the bride loves her mochas, but that’s a bit pricy for me. If I find the same machine at a discount store, can I purchase it there?
There is nothing wrong with trying to save money. It is the right thing to do, especially these days. Consequently, if you choose to purchase the expensive espresso machine, buy it on the cheap. You could inform the couple that you have purchased it somewhere else so they can remove it from their registry.
Of course, when you have it shipped directly, well before the wedding, they will know to remove it from their registry. Thus, you won’t have to mention it.
How long do I really have for giving a gift after the wedding?
The rule about wedding guests having an entire year to give a wedding gift is another misconception and rather silly. Wedding gifts should be shipped to the home of the couple (or the person with whom you are close-bride or groom) before or shortly after the wedding. Shipping the gift before the wedding is best.
A note to bridal couples: Do not use any of your gifts until after the wedding. However, do send a note acknowledging your receipt of the gift, also stating that you will send a proper thank you note after the wedding.
Is cash better than a purchased gift from a store or is it tacky?
Cash is a customary gift in some regions and for some nationalities. Nevertheless, it is not my favorite gift, because there is no correct amount to give. An amount may appear generous to one couple, while the same amount could appear lacking to another. In any case, it is not considered tacky.
How much should I spend on a wedding gift? Does it depend on my relationship to the bridal couple? For example, do I spend more on my best friend as opposed to a coworker?
There is no proper amount of money to spend on a wedding gift by any wedding guest, even for our best friend. The bottom line is that no one is obligated to give more for one wedding over another, or to give a certain type of gift. That said, our gift should reflect our relationship with the couple. Therefore, all gifts should be heartfelt and thoughtful.
Is it acceptable for a group of friends to purchase a group gift?
Absolutely! This is especially helpful for those big-ticket items.
Advice for all guests
- If attending a wedding, give a gift that represents your relationship with the couple.
- Give a gift that is within your budget.
- The gift doesn’t have to be from the registry.
- Ship the gift to the couple before the wedding.
More by Rebecca
Wedding Etiquette 101: Honeymoon Registry
Wedding Etiquette 101: How Do Wedding Guests Use a Gift Registry
How to Create a Wedding Website Your Guests Will Love to Visit