Once that wedding invitation from your friends arrives, you have a lot of choices to make. Don’t let worries about gift-giving spoil your anticipation for the big day! You can easily master the etiquette of wedding gifts by sticking to these sevens simple rules:
1) Give Something That Has Meaning
You can’t “win” wedding gifting by trying to out-spend all the other guests. In a lot of cases, the gifts the bride and groom will treasure most are the thoughtful ones. Take some time to think through what you know about the happy couple. What do you know about their interests, tastes and hobbies? Can you strike on a gift that suits their shared personalities?
Bear in mind that you don’t necessarily have to present the couple with something tangible. Making your gift an experience (e.g. concert tickets or a booking at a romantic seaside resort) can be a winning strategy. Surveys show that “experience” gifts are often better received than material ones because they present the new couple with an opportunity to make fond memories together.
2) Give Something From the Gift List
Couples that put together extensive gift lists do their friends a great favour and take a lot of the guesswork out of wedding gifting. Wedding gift lists usually run the gamut from very fancy items, like trophy cups to very prosaic ones such as a photo frame; it’s still common for couples to add functional housewares and kitchen gear to their lists. A practical present like a good kettle, a toaster, or a cutlery set can be a great boon to couples who are about to set up house together. Sticking to the gift list also ensures that you don’t accidentally duplicate a gift from another guest.
3) Give Cash if You’re Invited To
So long as the bride and groom have expressed a clear interest in accepting cash presents (or charitable donations), feel free to respect their wishes and pony up some money. Cash presents are quite straightforward, and they save you from any uncertainty about whether or not the couple will appreciate your gift. Cash never gets returned to the shop!
4) Respect the Couple’s Wishes if They Don’t Want Gifts
Some newlyweds may decide to save some or all of their guests from the hassle of picking a present by announcing that they want no gifts. Don’t bother looking this gift horse in the mouth; simply show up at the wedding and make a gift out of your present. It is traditional and appropriate to give the couple a card when they’ve foregone a wedding gift. If it feels appropriate, you might offer the couple an open-ended invitation to stay with you sometime in the future.
5) Pack Your Gift Appropriately
Recognise that at most weddings, opening and admiring the couple’s gifts is not part of the schedule. Wedding gifts are likely to be transported away unopened after you give them. Pack your gift with this in mind, taking extra care to protect fragile items. You don’t want to give a gift like fine glassware and have it reduced to shards before the couple gets around to opening it!
Gifts are typically collected together on a table or box. Make sure your gift is tagged so the bride and groom know who it’s from – and be aware that gifts and cards may be separated at some point. If you’re giving a large gift that won’t fit on a table (such as furniture), enquire about having it delivered somewhere else that would be more convenient for the couple.
6) Feel Free to Give a Gift Even if You Can’t Attend the Ceremony
If you receive a couple’s wedding invitation and find yourself unable to attend, are your gift-giving options any different? Not substantially! Remember to RSVP rapidly if you know you can’t attend the wedding. If you’re inclined to, pick out a gift for the newlyweds as usual. You can have it delivered to the wedding, send it to the couple at home, or hold onto it and present it in person when you see them again.
7) Don’t Feel Obligated to Give a Gift
While some etiquette experts consider wedding gifts to be mandatory, you should not give a gift just because you feel you have to. Remember that a gift should always be given with positive intentions; a feeling of obligation does not fit the bill!