Wedding Gift Giving Etiquette
It is customary to celebrate joyful events in life by, among other things, gift giving. And weddings are absolutely no exception! From the time the engagement is announced until the last guest has left the wedding reception, the gift giving opportunities are abundant. Here are some general things to keep in mind when giving and receiving gifts during the wedding and pre-wedding festivities.
Engagement Parties, though not mandatory, are a wonderful way to announce your upcomingnuptials. Guests invited to the engagement party are not obligated to bring gifts. They may choose to, especially if the purpose for the party is known ahead of time. If presents are brought to the party, you may not want to open them in front of the whole group, so as not to single out guests who did not bring gifts. The more formal an engagement party is, the more the implication exists that gifts are expected. If you do not wish toburden your guests with the obligation of bringing a gift, you can always make the announcement a surprise! Presents that come after the announcements are made should be recognized with a "thank you" note.
Wedding Gifts can be sent out as soon as guests receive invitations. Most couples register with two to three stores. Traditionally couples registered for china, crystals, or glassware, but today they can register for just about anything! The fine china and linens are still popular at department stores like Macy's, but with specialty stores such as Crate & Barrel, and national chains like Target also offering gift registries the range of products becomes very broad, including unconventional items like sports equipment, or patio furniture. Gift registries are useful, but by no means mandatory. It is consideredpresumptuous to list wedding registries in your invitations. Guests who wish to find out where the couple might be registered should ask someone in the wedding party, a family member, or other people who are helping out with the planning. In other words, you rely on word of mouth rather than telling your guests directly where they might find a gift for you. Completing a registry can be helpful, but guests should not feel they must purchase something from your registry. Some people may still prefer the element of surprise when giving a gift, or might have something personal in mind to give to the couple. Contrary to popular belief, there is no calculable amount of money each person attending a wedding should spend on a wedding gift. It is not the amount of money spent on the reception divided by the number of guests. A gift should be a token of affection, and is not intended to pay for the wedding. However, to not send a gift altogether is in poor taste. A wedding invitation carries with it an obligation to send a gift, even if you cannot attend the actual wedding. Depending on your relationship with the couple, the gift can be small, or something more substantial. When sending out invitations, keep in mind that guests who are invited may feel the need to send a gift whether or not they can attend. So it might be a good idea to send just wedding announcements to those who live far away and may not be able to make it. If for some reason the wedding is cancelled, it is absolutely necessary to return the gifts.
The Bridal, or Wedding Shower is the next occasion where gifts are purchased for the couple. The shower is typically thrown for either just the bride, or as is more and more popular, for the bride and groom together. Shower gifts can be elaborate, or very casual depending on the type of gathering. The tone is usually set by the hosts, and communicated to theguests in the invitation. Showers are usually smaller, more intimate get-togethers for close friends and family. Legend has it the first shower was thrown for a couple deeply in love, but lacking the money to marry. Their friends and family got together and "showered" the couple with gifts to help them start their new life together. Today, the tradition lives, but it's more of an opportunity for friends to gather with the pre-nups before their big day. Gifts for a shower generally do not come from the wedding registry, although it is okay if they do. The host of the party should specify in the invitation what kind of shower is to take place. Often those who plan a wedding shower opt for a theme. The theme serves to bring focus to the day's events, and can be anything related to the couple's interests such as a hobby, a favorite film, or a beloved vacation spot. One practical theme idea is the honeymoon destination. For instance, if the newlyweds plan to honeymoon in Venice, have an Italian themed shower! Instruct guests to bring gifts that are related to the theme. These can be travel books, English-Italian pocket dictionaries, luggage, etc. Extend the theme to the food, wedding favors, music, and decorations. Even games and entertainment can be connected to the theme. Hopefully by the end of the shower everyone will have had fun, and the bride and groom will be better prepared for their trip.
Rehearsal Dinner/Lunch usually takes place within a week of the wedding itself. It is the last time the couple will get together with all of their wedding party attendants, and a good chance to exchange gifts. It is customary for the bride and groom to bestow a gift upon each individual in their wedding party as a "thank you" for their involvement. Being in a bridal party cansometimes be very time-consuming and in some cases very expensive, so a gift for each of the bridesmaids and groomsmen is a great way to show your appreciation. Typically the bride will give bridesmaids gifts to her bridesmaids and maid of honor, and the groom will give groomsmen gifts to his best man and groomsmen. The attendants can also give a gift to the couple to wish them well in their lives together.
On the Day of the Wedding couples often prepare gifts for their guests. Wedding favors are completely optional, but they are a fantastic way to send your guest home with a token of your love and friendship, and to thank them for being a part of your wedding day. Whether you give one per guest, or one per couple is completely up to you. It is meant to be a sign of youraffection and should only have to be what you're comfortable with giving and not have to measure up to any standards of etiquette. Wedding favors can also serve as mementos for the occasion. When it comes to picking out your favors, the choices are virtually limitless. There are some traditional favors still preferred in certain cultural weddings, but for the most part couples have the freedom to use their imagination and come up with something that truly reflects their personalities and that their guests will enjoy.