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Wedding gift etiquette

Sunday, December 8, 2013

After reading a lovely wedding invitation, the next thought that occupies most guests’ minds (apart from what to wear) is where to find a gift and how much to spend on it.


Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule on how much to spend on a gift. Some people think that a good guide is that the value of the gift should equal the cost the couple will incur to host them at their wedding.


However, a gift should really be a token of affection and should not represent a guest’s intention to pay for the cost of being hosted.


It also goes without saying that guests should only give what they can afford. Sometimes a sentimental, personalised or heirloom gift may be of greater value to the bride and groom than a purchased present. It all depends on the couple’s needs and style.


Gift registries are one place guests can visit to find a suitable item. They are popular in T&T, as couples seek to save guests’ time and avoid duplication of gifts. 


One way to think about it if you’re a guest, is to approach the registry as a “shopping convenience,” since selections have already been made by the bride and groom, and all you have to do is choose something in a suitable price range.


Despite the convenience of a registry, though, some guests dislike the idea of buying something from it, because the couple will know exactly how much they’ve spent or because they feel it eliminates the element of surprise.


However, as a guest you are not obligated to purchase from a registry. You can also choose a gift you think they will like, or give a monetary gift.


Here are some common questions that I am asked about gift giving:

“I’m not attending the wedding, do I still have to send a gift?”


The idea behind a gift is the celebration of the marriage or union and not necessarily the wedding event itself. It would be a lovely gesture to send a small gift or card even if you are not attending. However, it is not compulsory.

“I’m gifting money to the couple. How should I package it?”


If you’re gifting money, you should enclose the cash or cheque in a labelled envelope, within a gift card, to prevent it from being misplaced. It is also acceptable for co-workers or friends to pool their finances and give the couple a “joint gift.”


Some couples have registries at certain banks. Each bank will have their own gift cards and system of notifying the couple about deposits made.

“I feel awkward giving the couple money, are there any alternatives?”


Some guests balk at the idea of giving money, particularly if they don’t know the couple well enough, or because they can’t gauge how much to give. In this instance, why not give a gift certificate instead?

“Is it necessary to purchase a gift for the couple even though I have attended the bridal shower or bachelor party?”



“I can’t send the gift before the wedding, when is an appropriate time frame?”


Typically, gifts should be sent prior to the wedding. If this is not possible, at least within one year after the wedding has taken place. And…it goes without saying that not sending a gift at all is in very poor taste.

“What is done with gifts in the event that a wedding is called off?”


Once a wedding is called off, the couple must notify guests by calling or sending a card, and returning all bridal shower and wedding gifts that have been sent.



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