Wedding Gift-Giving Etiquette: What You Need to Know

April 25, 2014

Wedding Gift-Giving Etiquette: What You Need to Know

Choosing a wedding gift for the happy couple may seem like a joyous task, but oftentimes it’s less than joyful. Deciding what, how, and when to give can easily leave you feeling stressed — and far from celebratory.

Thankfully, etiquette authority Laura Barclay is here with advice on navigating five gift-giving conundrums you may encounter in your role as wedding guest. (She offers a few tips for bridal couples, too.)

Conundrum #1: I’m not sure when to give the wedding gift. Is there a “too early” or “too late”?

Barclay says that once you receive the wedding invitation, it’s perfectly acceptable to go ahead and send a gift. “Just don’t send it before you receive the invitation,” she cautions. As for too late? “It’s never too late to send a gift, but etiquette guidelines call for sending a gift within three months of the wedding. Some people say the rule of thumb is within one year, but that’s simply not true.”

Conundrum #2: I have no idea where the couple is registered. Help!

Barclay says couples should never mention gifts on their wedding invitation — which may explain why you’re left in the dark. “Gift and registry information should always be passed to guests by word of mouth, via the couple’s family and close friends,” Barclay says.

Consider asking someone close to the couple for registry deets, or try searching for the couple’s online registries using a registry-finder tool such as the one on The couple may also have their own wedding website, which is usually a good place to find all types of wedding-related info.

Conundrum #3: I’m not sure how much to spend on a wedding gift. Is there a standard amount?

According to Barclay, there’s no standard — or minimum — amount to aim for. “Consider your budget and how well you know the couple,” she says. “These two factors will determine the amount you’ll spend. And if a gift just isn’t in your budget, you can always give your time to help the couple with wedding- or household-related tasks.”

Barclay also points out that couples should remember that gift-buyers will have different target price ranges when they’re shopping for gifts. “Be sure to include a variety of items in different price ranges, so guests can find a gift that fits their budget.”

Conundrum #4: I’ve been invited to the couple’s engagement party and two showers. Should I give a gift at each event?

“Guests are not expected to bring a gift to an engagement party,” Barclay says. “But, if you wanted to, you could certainly bring something small, such as a bottle of wine.” And when it comes to attending multiple showers, Barclay advises to give a gift at the first shower, and know that you’re not expected to give a gift at the others.

Conundrum #5: I sent the couple a gift months ago, but I haven’t seen a thank-you note. Is it appropriate to ask if they’ve received it?

“Per etiquette guidelines, the couple has three months to send a thank-you note,” Barclay says. “So if you haven’t received word within three months, it’s certainly appropriate to ask the couple if they’ve received your gift.” Barclay adds that purchasing and shipping your gift directly from the couple’s online registry can help you avoid this conundrum.

A final note: Give from the heart — and within your budget

Barclay says to remember that, above all else, the wedding gift should be “from your heart, and within your budget.” So, let’s raise a toast (with wedding crystal, of course) to happy hearts, happy budgets, and, of course, happy couples.

Happy gifting!

Leigh Kramarczuk

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