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Wedding Gift Etiquette

Standards for Wedding Gift Giving

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White gift box and a bouquet
sozaijiten/Datacraft/Getty Images

The game show Family Feud once asked survey participants to list their most favorite part of a wedding. Surprisingly, one of the top answers was "the end." I suppose this sentiment proves that for many guests the whole process of being invited, responding appropriately,manners for the couple to make specific gift requests.

  • Send your gift ahead it is beneficial to shop early and send your gift ahead of the actual wedding date. This tends to be a custom that varies by region. For instance, people on the East Coast usually prefer to send their gift ahead of time or soon after the actual wedding. It is not recommended that you bring gifts to the ceremony. This will cause the couple to have to transport gifts on their special night. In the Midwest it is considered acceptable for the couple to set up a gift table at the reception where the guests can place their gifts.
  • Gifting money or gift certificates is perfectly fine and many couples even set up 'Wishing Well' tables or an alternative in order to receive monetary gifts. These you should take with you to the reception where it can be presented directly to the couple. If you have decided to give the couple money in lieu of a gift, you should give only what you can afford. Some people have set unrealistic guidelines which state that you should give a certain amount to the bride and groom per person in order to offset their costs. This is not true. As a wedding guest you have no obligation whatsoever to pay for any portion of the wedding celebration. The only reason you should be invited is because you are dear to the couple and they want you to be a witness to their joyous event.
  • If you are sending a gift prior to the wedding you should send it either to the home of the bride's parents or to the return address on the invitation. Although, social etiquette rules state that you have up to one year after the wedding to send a gift, this really should be done as soon as possible after you receive your invitation. You should send a wedding gift whether you are able to attend the ceremony or not. The exception is if you have not been in contact with the couple for an extended time and/or you don't live in close proximity. In these cases you are under no obligation to send a gift, although a card or note of congratulations would be thoughtful.
  • Chalk it up as an oversight or a tackiness if you do not receive a thank you note for your gift within a couple of months. I would not recommend contacting the couple; however, it is acceptable to contact the bride or groom to find out if the gift was received in instances when you have mailed. Otherwise, realize it is tacky to discuss or bring up the gift.

Gift-giving should be an enjoyable experience. You should not have to be stressed or worried in any way as you shop. I hope these wedding gift etiquette guidelines have helped you to understand that the key thing for you as a guest is to give from the heart and join the couple as they celebrate a great and memorable day in their new lives together.

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