Gift Giving Etiquette for Weddings
Someone you know is getting married! Before you decide on a wedding gift, keep in mind that your gift-giving obligations will not start and end with the wedding. You must consider the other celebrations associated with the wedding in which you will likely be included. From the Engagement Party to the Bridal Shower, to the Bachelor/Bachelorette Party to the Wedding itself, the gift giving obligations just keep coming. From the time a couple announces their engagement until they embark on their honeymoon, your gift giving budget can be challenged. If you are wondering about your gift-giving obligations during these festivities, there are some general rules of gift giving etiquette for weddings to keep in mind.
Gift Giving Etiquette for Pre-Wedding Parties
Simply put, engagement gifts are not required. An engagement party is a celebration of the couple's new engagement with friends and family. Couples understand they will soon be receiving shower gifts and wedding gifts. The host/hostess should not encourage gifts and the guests should not feel obligated to bring a gift.
However, some friends and family may elect not to abide by the traditional gift giving etiquette for weddings, and elect to bring a gift to express their congratulations to the couple. Also, someone who knows they will not be able to attend the other parties associated with the wedding may do so as well. If you prefer to take a gift, gift ideas such as wedding planning materials, a bottle of wine, or something that both the bride and groom would enjoy are good choices. At this point, the couple has not yet created their wedding registry – and, a registry for an engagement party would be inappropriate.
Shower gifts are expected as you are “showering” the honoree with gifts. Shower gifts will vary from the practical to the luxurious depending on the type of shower. In the past, these parties were centered solely around the bride. But today, it is trendy for a shower to focus on the groom or the couple. Co-ed showers for the couple are commonly known as Jack and Jill showers. Showers for the groom are generally called Handyman Showers. Regardless of who the shower focuses on, the purpose is still the same - to help furnish the new couple with the necessary items needed to start their life together.
Gifts for a shower are not generally selected from the wedding registry, although it is fine to do so as the wedding registry offers a wealth of ideas. The host/hostess will specify in the invitation the type of shower it will be, thus suggesting the type of gift. There are kitchen showers, lingerie showers, naughty showers and more, along with the generic bridal showers. The host or hostess may choose a theme for the shower relating to the theme of the wedding. A couple may have multiple showers with different guest lists, especially if it is a large wedding or the bride and groom are from different areas of the country. In this case, it is smart to choose bridal shower games that "break the ice" and allow the guests to get to know the bride.
The Bachelorette and/or Bachelor Party is a celebration of the last night out as a single man or woman. The purpose is strictly for fun - a time to release the stress building up before the big day. Gifts are optional for a bachelor/bachelorette party – definitely meaning shower-type gifts are not required . But, if you are like many people, “optional“ suggests a gift lest you risk the embarrassment of being the one without a gift. The groomsmen or bridesmaids may elect to "chip-in" for a gift. In this case, care must be taken to include all of the guests. Informing only a select few will cause an awkward situation for the rest of the guests.
So, what type of gift do you choose if you want to take a little something? Humorous gifts related to the bride's or groom's last days of freedom are popular, as well as games to play during the party. For most bachelor/bachelorette parties, gag gifts, sexy lingerie and sexual gifts are the norm as they add to the festivities. A gift chosen to make the guest of honor blush can only be fun – isn't that the purpose of the party?
Gift Giving Etiquette for the Wedding Ceremony
A wedding gift is expected whether or not you plan to attend the ceremony. Even if you have given a shower gift, an engagement gift, or more...you are still obligated to give a wedding gift. Wedding gifts are most often chosen from the couple's gift registry. The wedding registry provides gift ideas requested by the couple - but never feel obligated to purchase from the registry. And, if they don't have a registry, use the opportunity to be creative in your gift giving. Gifts for the home, from the decorative to the practical, are always welcomed. You may decide to help stock the wine cabinet or pantry, offer a cooking class or destination gift for the couple - wedding gift ideas are never limited to what is included on a registry.
Today, it has become proper wedding etiquette gift giving to include a gift receipt with your gift should the couple need to return or exchange it. Also, the gift of money is appropriate and traditional in many countries. For example, in India giving money is a perfectly acceptable wedding gift, as long as the amount is given in an odd numerical amount, for instance $101 instead of $100. If your choice of gift conveys your well wishes for the couple, then you have chosen well.
With the many gift giving opportunities surrounding a wedding, you can easily feel overwhelmed with the expenses. The amount you spend on a wedding gift is up to you, your relationship with the couple, and your budget. As with all gift giving, if the gift comes from the heart, the monetary value is insignificant.
- Guide to Choosing a Wedding Gift
- Bridal Registry
- Giving Money
- When you Should Give a Gift
- Gift Registry Etiquette