Guests’ Guide to Wedding Gift Giving

Wedding present

A wedding is an excuse to celebrate the happy couple, have a wild night out with friends, and break out your best dance moves. That’s the good news. The bad news is you’re faced with the question of what the heck to give this happy couple. You don’t have to stress out over a present. We’ve got answers to some of the biggest questions when it comes to basic etiquette and guidelines for giving wedding gifts.

How Much Should a Wedding Gift Cost?

Price tag

There’s an old rule that states you should give a gift that is the same cost as a plate of food at the wedding. That’s silly because you don’t know exactly how much each plate really costs without digging into the couple’s wedding budget and it’s simply tacky to “judge a book by its cover.” However, your wedding gift cost will vary based on how close you are to the newlyweds—which makes sense! Your gift for your best friend will probably be very different than your gift for a co-worker. Most people recommend spending at least $50 on someone like a co-worker or distant relative, $75 to $100 for a co-worker you’re closer with, a closer relative, or a friend, and $100 to $200 for a boss, close friend, or close relative (depending on your relationship).

While these are good guidelines, don’t break the bank trying to give the perfect present. Set a budget that allows you to give the couple a wonderful gift and doesn’t clean out your pocketbook. Then, stick to the wedding registry and shop early to get the best deal for your budget.

Do I Go With a Gift From the Registry?

The bride and groom probably spent a lot of time finding the best gift ideas to put on their registry. The only problem is that many guests feel buying from the registry isn’t personal enough. Giving a big glass serving bowl doesn’t exactly showcase your personal connection with the couple, but they did register for it because they want or need it so it might actually be the best thing for them.

Can I Gift Cash?

Cash present

No couple is going to turn down a cash gift, so you should be fine with this one. It is customary, however, to gift cash if the couple does not provide a wedding registry.

Can I Buy a Creative Gift Not On the Registry?

If you are close enough to the couple to buy a personalized and/or creative gift, go for it! Some special gifts might be personalized picture frames, a scrapbook of the couple, or something you know they would love in their home. You could even go with a little theme for your gifts like a set of embroidered towels with new soft pillows.

Some guests might choose to just buy for the bride or groom alone. You might want to give the bride a special piece of jewelry or the groom a new watch. The couple will get many gifts so if you want to stand out, don’t be afraid to really think outside the box.

Can I Buy a Gift With a Group of Friends?

Cash pile

Some items on the registry or that seem just perfect for the couple in the store might have a hefty price tag that leaves you wondering how anyone can afford it. Try seeing if you can go in with others for these types of items! Ask a couple of friends to split the cost of a big ticket item, so the couple still gets the gift and you aren’t broke. Everyone wins!

Is There a Time Limit for Buying a Wedding Gift?

The customary etiquette rule for weddings is buying a gift within a year of the wedding. That’s great if you buy it pretty quickly afterward, but don’t use this as a definitive rule; eight months after the wedding might be pushing it. This just shows the couple they aren’t high on your priority list and it puts them in the awkward position of how to ask you if your gift got lost or if you never intended to buy one. Buying and sending a gift these days is so easy with the push of a button. You can buy something online and ship it directly to the person all within a few minutes, so there’s no excuse.

Do I Take the Gift to the Wedding?

Wedding present bride

Taking a gift to the wedding is a hassle for many guests. They don’t want to carry a big box and mess around trying to find the table for it, especially when they can just ship it to the couple directly. However, others love the convenience of having a gift table where they can stash the present without any worry. There no specific rule dictating which you have to do, so go with whatever is easiest for you. The couple probably doesn’t care either way how they get your gift, just that they know who to send the thank you note to.

Do I Need to Send a Gift If I Cannot Attend the Wedding?

A wedding invitation doesn’t always mean you have to get a gift. If you won’t be attending the wedding, it’s up to you whether or not you feel it’s necessary. For instance, if you are close to the couple, but have a scheduling conflict, you should still send something to show you care. If they’re just a distant relative, a co-worker, or a casual acquaintance then there is probably no need.

If I’m In the Wedding, Do I Still Buy a Gift?

Bridesmaids with bride

Generally, yes. Despite the fact that bridesmaids and groomsmen are expected to shell out a lot with parties and buying wedding attire, you are in that role because you’re extremely close to the couple getting married. Getting a gift is still polite, but you do have a little more wiggle room about cost.

Do I Bring a Gift to a Destination Wedding?

If a couple chooses to have a destination wedding, it is polite to forgo wedding gifts as all of their guests are spending a lot of money just to attend. Nothing is stopping you from giving them a little something if it’s what you want to do, but it’s not usually expected.

The most important thing to remember is that there are no real set rules for wedding gift giving, and there are always exceptions. Follow these guidelines to help with your decision-making process and always err on the side of courtesy, but never bankrupt yourself for a set of dinnerware. Your kind words and attendance at a wedding are truly the most important gift the couple can ask for.

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