The Confusion over Wedding Gifts

The Confusion over Wedding Gifts

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Wedding gifts are confusing.  How much should be spent?  Who should buy a gift for the couple?  What should be done when the couple already has what they need to start their lives?

There are plenty of things to wonder about, but wedding etiquette dictates what you should and should not do when it comes to wedding gifts.

Whether you are on the receiving side or the giving side, it is essential that this touchy situation gets handled appropriately.

When Gifts Are Given

Wedding gifts are given at various times during the course of the wedding planning and ceremonies.  If you are giving the gift, you should know when it is appropriate to give a gift to the bride and groom at each of these times.

The engagement party- if there is an engagement party, small tokens can be given to the bride and the groom.  Certainly a card is encouraged, but it is not necessary to go overboard with gifts here.  Since this party is reserved for just the most intimate of guests, this can be handled individually as well.

The wedding shower- The most common time to give a gift is at the wedding shower.  We will get more into details about the wedding shower in just a minute.  For the most part, you should only attend the shower if you are bringing a gift or something sentimental for the couple. 

The wedding- If you attend the wedding shower, you do not need to provide another gift for the wedding.  But, it is customary to provide a monetary gift to the bride and groom at the wedding, to help them to pay for the wedding and to start off their life together.

The wedding gift, if given should be something of personalized or sentimental value for this special occasion.

Sometimes, the bride’s family or close friends may give the bride or the groom something during odd times during the wedding preparations.  For example, the maid of honor, a sister of the bride or the mother of the bride, may purchase a keepsake book for them to record their planning adventures.

This is not something that is necessarily required, but can provide sentimental value that can be used throughout the planning of the wedding itself.

Wedding Shower Gifts

When it comes to the wedding shower, gifts are almost a must.  While there is no restriction that you should never go to a wedding shower without a gift, it is somewhat assumed that you will.

The gifts given at a wedding shower are designed to help the bride and the groom to begin their life together.  For that reason, the gifts given are generally things for their household.  You may give them things for the kitchen, the bath, the bedroom or any place else in the home that you know that they need something for.

If you are not sure what the bride and groom need for their new home, it is okay to ask the bride’s parents or the groom’s parents, or other close family members for advice.

You can give a monetary gift for the wedding shower if you feel that this is a more appropriate gift for the couple.  Often, a monetary gift will be one of the most appreciated gifts given at any time simply because of the sheer cost of the wedding itself.

Yet, it is important to take note in the fact that a gift that is given at a wedding shower is the most customary thing given, and the most prized.

At the wedding shower, it is also customary that these gifts will be open for the guests to see.  For that reason, gifts should be purchased with this kept in mind.

Other Appropriate Times

The co workers of the bride may decide to give the bride an office shower.  At the office shower, those that know the bride well will give her a gift.  Generally speaking the gifts are something for the home.  But, they are often much less costly than the gifts given at a bridal shower.

The office shower is less formal, generally only being a ‘lunch hour’ occasion.  There should also be a cake and/or a deli tray presented to those that come to the shower.  The person closest to the bride will give her the shower but a boss can do so as well.

Guests invited to an office bridal shower do not have to be invited to the wedding shower and do not need to be invited to the wedding unless it was originally planned.

Appropriate Choices

Gifts at a wedding shower can be virtually anything that is needed for the home.  While every family is different, gifts are usually given that are high in quality, something that is useful or something that has sentimental value.

The goal of the gift is to help the couple to prepare their new home for their arrival.  For that reason, virtually anything for the home, from dishes and pots and pans to fine china and large appliances are acceptable.

Those that are closer to the bride and the groom generally will give a larger gift, but there is no hard rule for this either.

It is customary for the maid of honor and other bridesmaids to give gifts to the bride and groom as well.  In most cases, the parents of the couple will also provide a gift to them at this occasion, unless they feel that it is necessary to keep it to themselves, in which case they can.

From The Other Point Of View

If you are the bride or the groom, you too have gifts to give out to those that are in your wedding party.  It is customary for these gifts to be given, but what you give is really up to you and your budget.  Wedding gifts are a sign of thank you, of welcome to our new life and of a significant start to the new life that you will be leading together.

Gifts For Groomsmen

Traditionally, the groom is responsible for providing some sort of thank you gift to the groomsmen in his wedding party.  This does not necessarily need to be of high cost.  It is commonly something that has an engraved message or has some value to it.

It is often appropriate to give a gift to the groomsmen that fit with the sense and relationship that the groom has with those individuals.  For example, a groom may give a beer mug to his friend, an usher, as a token of appreciation and a tool to remember their friendship over the last years.

The gifts for the groomsmen can be presented to the groomsmen at the rehearsal dinner.  If not, they can be presented by the groom to his groomsmen on the wedding day, as the men are preparing and getting ready for the day.  It is also appropriate for the gifts for the groomsmen to be given out at the bachelor party if this occurs in the right manner for doing so.

The gift should be something that is worth something as it is a token of thanks and gratitude to the groomsmen for all that they have done to help the groom in preparation of this day and for serving next to him throughout it.

Gifts For The Bridesmaids

Typically, the bride should provide a gift of thanks to her bridesmaids.  The gift selection is completely open to what she selects.  It is often something significant, though not necessarily costly.

The appropriate gift for the bridesmaids can be chosen as something that is the same for all those in the wedding party.  Or, the gifts can be individual items given as a specific gift to each person.  This is done at the discretion of the bride herself.

Since the gift is a token of thanks, it should be given as something that is meaningful to the ladies or something that is of value.  They will use it as a way to remember this day and the bride.

The gifts for the bridesmaids are generally presented to the bridesmaids by the bride at the rehearsal dinner.  They can also be given to the bridesmaids at the bridal luncheon where the bride hosts her bridesmaids for a meal together.  If neither of these times is appropriate, the bride can give her bridesmaids a gift as they are preparing for their special day.  But, often this is not the best choice as it can be very busy and stressful as it is.

Gifts To Guests

It is also necessary and etiquette dictates that the bride and groom, or those that are hosting the wedding reception and bridal shower, to give the guests that come a gift.  This gift is often called a wedding favor.

A wedding favor is presented to the women that attend the event.  While it is customary that the favors be given to all females in attendance, if the gift is something that is highly costly or inappropriate, a child can be given an alternative gift in lieu of the larger one.

The wedding favor can be any small token of thanks.  There are plenty of wedding sites that offer a variety to select from right on the web.  Selection of the wedding favor is completely up to the person hosting the wedding or shower.

Typically, the wedding favor will cost only a few dollars each.  They should be marked with a tag that has the date of the event, the name of the couples and the occasion listed on it.  Often, a small bouquet of candy is also included with the wedding favor.

Another tradition that is often used is the gift of cigars to the men that attend the wedding reception.  The groom or the groom’s father is to give one to each man that comes to the reception.  It is a sign of welcoming the groom to manhood.

Other Gifts

There are other gifts that can be given throughout the nuptials.  Gifts of sentimental value are often exchanged from mother to daughter and from grandmother to granddaughter.  Also, fathers may give their son’s something to honor the occasion.

While these gifts are not mandatory, they are often done as a token for the parents to honor their child’s accomplishments and successes.

Gift Do’s And Don’ts

Gifts should never be mentioned on any wedding invitation that is given out by the bride’s parents, the groom’s parents or the bride and groom.  Gifts should not be expected at any time either.

Any gifts that are given should not be opened or used until after the couple has been married.  Gifts should remain kept away until after the wedding ceremony.

If the wedding is called off, the gifts should be returned to those that have given them.  It is often necessary to keep a record of who gave what to insure that this is easily done should the couple not stay together.

If a wedding is postponed indefinitely, gifts should be returned to the guests.  If the wedding is postponed and a date is given, gifts may be kept but should never be opened or used until after the couple is actually married and living together.

Those that have been married in the past, can still have a wedding shower thrown for them.  It is often a necessary thing just as much as those that have not been married before.  Depending on how large the wedding will be should determine how formal and lavish the wedding shower is and therefore the gifts that are given to the bride that has been married before.

For those that are having a wedding shower and do not need things for the home, especially those that already own homes, it is often appropriate to give a lifestyle gift in place of the standard bridal shower gift.  This may include things like gift certifications to spas, hotels, or even favorite restaurants.

Other appropriate gifts in this type of situation include a vacation package or part of it or a gift of lodging at a bed and breakfast.  Other gifts of the same type are most welcome.

Monetary gifts are always appreciated and are more than well used for any type of gift throughout the wedding shower or the wedding itself but monetary gifts may be more costly than the average gift for a bridal shower.

When it comes to gift registries, these are appropriate for the wedding shower.  It is now proper etiquette to provide information with the wedding shower invitation about where the bride and the groom are registered for their wedding.

The bride and groom should register for their wedding gifts together.  This should be done in several ways.  It is appropriate to register at several locations to give guests options to select from.  It is also appropriate and necessary to select gifts from all price ranges.

Gifts should be selected based on needs and tastes but should have a complete scope of prices so that no one feels obligated to purchase something that is too costly.  On the other hand, those that do want to purchase a very nice gift for the couple should be able to find these items to select from as well.

The bride and groom should not send out invitations to the wedding shower, but it is appropriate for them to fill a gift registry.

Never request that only monetary gifts be given at either the bridal shower or the wedding itself.  If this is the preferred method, the host of the wedding shower or the host of the wedding itself should encourage monetary gifts only through word of mouth.

Another option for this situation is to list a honeymoon registry where guests can provide gifts to help with the creation of the honeymoon or the costs of it.  A fund can be set up on one of several websites to provide for this need as well.

Returning Gifts

Even with the best of efforts, gifts may be duplicated, the wrong size or it may not be of use to the bride and the groom.  When this happens, it is okay to return the gift and purchase something that is useful instead.

For this reason, gift receipts, which are commonly found today in most department stores, should be provided to the couple.  The couple can then make exchanges if they are necessary.

The only exception to this rule is when gifts are given for sentimental value or they are hand made.  Then, the gifts should not be returned but displayed.

Do not be offended if the couple does return the gift that is given to them by you.  It is more important that they have a gift that is of use to them to remember you by.