There are few things in life more difficult to figure out than the “rules” that apply to weddings. It’s perhaps toughest to know what’s proper when it comes to giving presents. Here’s a brief look at current-day wedding gift etiquette.
What To Give
Many wonder whether it’s acceptable to give cash or checks. The answer, according to the Emily Post Institute, is definitely “yes.” However, customs do vary in different regions, so cash may be more welcome in some areas than others.
If you’re planning on giving something tangible, it’s best to stick with the items listed in the bride and groom’s gift registry. That way you know that the couple will appreciate and need whatever you’ve given. It’s fine to give something they haven’t chosen in a registry, if you know them well and can be sure that they’ll like what you’ve selected.
The biggest issue for most people is how much to give. TheKnot.com recommends spending around $75-$100 on someone you don’t know very well, and $100-$125 for a friend or relative. They’ve also surveyed their members and found the average expenditures were $79 for friends, and $146 for family members.
It’s also acceptable to give less if you’re having financial issues. In this case, a good idea is to select something inexpensive from the couple’s registry, or a less expensive but more personal gift. They will certainly understand, and will appreciate that you’ve made the effort.
When To Give
“Everyone knows” that you have a year to send a wedding gift. Most etiquette experts, however, say that’s not really true. They recommend giving the present at the time of the wedding; at the most, they say, it should be sent within three months. Anything more than that is considered rude.
Another common fallacy is that it’s not necessary to give anything if you’re travelling a long distance to get to the nuptials, or if a couple is having a “destination wedding” which entails a lot of extra expense for guests. That’s not true, either. It’s perfectly acceptable to spend less on a present if it costs a lot more to attend the event, but you should still give a gift as well.
Two more beliefs that many people have:
- It’s okay to give nothing to a couple, if you didn’t receive anything from them.
- If you gave the bride something for her shower, it’s not necessary to give anything else for the wedding.
Those are both incorrect. Once again, it’s considered rude to play the “you didn’t give me one, so you don’t get one” game. And it’s proper to give engagement party, shower, and wedding gifts; experts suggest taking the total amount you want to spend and allocate 20% for the engagement gift, 20% for the shower and 60% for the nuptials.
When Not To Give
There are a few times when it’s acceptable to not give a present. If you’ve already given the bride or groom something for their first wedding, there’s no need to give another gift for the second, although it’s certainly a nice thing to do.
And, of course, if the wedding is cancelled at the last minute there’s no need to give the couple anything at all. In that case, the couple should return all gifts that have already been received.
Do you have your own opinions about wedding gift dos-and-don’ts? We’d love you to share them.