Gift-Giving Etiquette: Is It Appropriate To Bring A Gift To The Wedding?

Find answers to those anxiety inducing questions regarding wedding gifts.

wedding gift table
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Your desire to be a good wedding guest can produce a host of etiquette questions. What is the appropriate dress code, what is proper wedding gift etiquette, am I required to attend every single shower? If you find yourself faced with a "what should I do" moment, take a look at trusted etiquette tradition, for it will give you guidelines, not set-in-concrete, do-or-die rules, but simple guidelines, so you will know what is expected of you in certain situations. Southerners love to study etiquette guidebooks as closely as we study collegiate football strategy, so we are ready with an answer when asked (and even when we are not asked) about hosting baby showers and how to dress for an event. Below we address some common questions concerning wedding gifts.

How Soon Should I Send A Wedding Gift?

Once you receive a wedding invitation, go ahead and send your gift to the bride anytime before the wedding or to the couple within three months after the ceremony. There is a popular myth that you have up to one year to send the couple a gift. Peggy Post, Director of the Emily Post Institute says, "One year is actually really long. Try sending the gift as close to the wedding as possible. It's good manners." Naturally, later is better than never, but try and send the gift as soon as you can.

Can I Take My Gift To The Wedding?

Of course, especially if this is the tradition in the couple's family or community. In the South, where many weddings and receptions still take place in the home church, you are certain to find a heavily laden gift table at the reception in the fellowship hall. Ceremonies today, however, are often held at an assortment of venues, such as reserved rooms in an otherwise public restaurant or an open, outdoor area, where a gift table may not be very secure. You may be more comfortable ordering a gift from the couple's registry and having it delivered to their home.

Do I Have To Purchase From The Bridal Registry?

Absolutely not. A gift registry should only serve as a convenience, not a direct order. Some people like to give gifts of their own choosing, such as an item that reminds them of their special connection with the bride and/or groom. But other guests simply enjoy the ease of ordering from the registry; you can purchase a gift the couple specifically picked out, plus it is wrapped and delivered for you.

How Much Should I Spend?

There are no guidelines when it comes to how much, or how little, to spend on a wedding gift. This is strictly a matter of your budget, what you wish to purchase, and how close you are to the couple. And what about that incredibly tacky idea that the value of your gift needs to match what the host spent on each guest? Don't lose any sleep over that silly notion. An invitation to attend a wedding ceremony should not include a price tag; the only thing that is requested is your presence. What you spend on a gift is entirely your decision.

Is It Acceptable To Chip In For A Group Gift?

Absolutely! Young adults are often on tight budgets (frankly, who isn't?) so it is perfectly acceptable for friends and relatives to pool their resources and purchase a more expensive gift. The bride will be more excited to receive one KitchenAid mixer than multiple sets of cooking utensils and potholders.

Can I Just Give Money?

Yes, cash gifts are often the perfect choice for couples that are saving for something special such as purchasing a home, or have already established their household. In some cultures, cash is the traditional gift. You can send a monetary gift either directly to the couple or into their financial gift registry.

Don't let the joy of a wedding ceremony be marred by stressing over wedding gift etiquette. A few simple guidelines will ease your anxieties and give you confidence that the bride and groom will appreciate and love your heart-felt gift.

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