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How to Observe Proper Wedding Gift Etiquette

There are a lot of outdated rules and outright myths regarding wedding presents. Follow these tips to set the record straight.


  • Step 1: Know your obligations. You should give a gift if you are invited to a wedding, whether you attend or not. The only exception is if the invitation is from a non-relative whom you rarely see, in which case you may simply send your best wishes.
  • Step 2: Spend an amount based on how well you know the couple getting married, and what your budget allows. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to shell out the equivalent of what the couple is spending on each guest at the wedding.
  • Step 3: Forget the old rule that you have a year to send a wedding present. Send it around the time of the wedding, and preferably beforehand.
  • TIP: In some cultures, gifts are brought to the wedding. If this doesn’t apply to you, send it to the bride or couple's home.
  • Step 4: If the couple is registered, respect their wishes. A whopping 85 percent of engaged couples want guests to select items from their registry, not go off on their own to find a gift.
  • TIP: If all the registry items in your price range are gone, consider joining forces with other guests to buy one large gift.
  • Step 5: Give cash. Research shows nearly half of couples would love cash, but don't know how to ask for it tactfully. Some weddings have a place set aside for gift envelopes, but you can also tuck a check inside a congratulatory card and mail it to the couple.
  • Step 6: If the couple requests donations to a charity in lieu of a gift, honor their wishes. Just make sure you are donating to the charity of their choice, not yours.
  • Step 7: If you're invited to several wedding-related events, like an engagement party and a bridal shower, decide on a total amount to spend and then divide it among all the gifts, wedding present included.
  • FACT: The average cost of a wedding gift in 2008 was $85, according to an industry survey.

You Will Need

  • Timeliness
  • The couple's wedding registry

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