The etiquette of how many gifts, when to give, what to give, and how much to spend can be daunting to even the most seasoned wedding guest. And as a bride, it can be tricky to know what to ask for or expect. We’re here to help!
What’s the traditional etiquette? And when is it okay to break it?
Etiquette expert Emily Post lists some of the common no-no’s: mentioning registries on the invitation, asking for cash gifts, failing to give a gift if invited but unable to attend, considering traveling to the wedding substitute for a gift, or skipping a gift at the shower.
However, times have changed, and sometimes these rules are no longer relevant… Many modern couples are perfectly happy with simply accepting the cost of travel for destination events. Other tech-savvy brides happily link to their wedding registration on their wedding websites. And in recent years, the unstable economy led to many exceptions to the rules about cash gifts. Every circumstance is different. As a guest, gauge the likelihood of the bride to hold to rigid etiquette. As a bride, if you feel like breaking with traditions, feel free!
Do you know how many gifts will you be giving total?
At most, you may be looking at giving a gift as a recognition of the engagement, at the bridal shower, and for the wedding itself. In some situations, it may be just the shower and wedding, or even just the wedding present. The typical breakdown is a 20/20/60 cost ratio or 20/80, but regardless, the wedding gift should always be the largest. Make sure you don’t overestimate your resources in giving a large engagement present, and end up with nothing left to give for the wedding.
How, and how well do you know the couple?
Let’s face it, if you’re closer to the couple, you’re likely to give a little more. Co-workers and distant friends typically give $75 to $100, while family members may end up around $100 to $150, although some sources place these averages a little higher. (One general rule of thumb is to never give less than $50). As with our next point, go with your gut feeling. No matter how well you know the couple, they certainly won’t want you to blow your budget. Be realistic about what you can afford and give from the heart!
What kind of gift do you WANT to give?
If a registry was set up by the couple, it’s always wonderful to oblige. Joint gifts, especially where registries are involved, are also an excellent option. Of course, if the only thing left on the registry list is out of your budget, or if the couple chose not to set one up, cash gifts are increasingly acceptable in this modern day and age. Beyond that, if you’re on a budget or want to do something extra special, make it personal! Give something that shows a lot of thought and care, and the couple is sure to appreciate it.