How To Give A Wedding Gift

Always an option

Screw Pete, Chip ‘n’ Dips are great

So you’ve been invited to a wedding! It’s so exciting to be attending your first wedding as a real grown up person. If you’ve only attended family weddings with your parents, you’ve probably just been signing your name to whatever they’ve selected (which is fine! Keep doing this for random family weddings! Forever!). But now you are on your own. Here are a few pointers:

Do I have to give a gift?

Contrary to popular belief, wedding gifts are not obligatory. However, if you aren’t happy enough about a wedding to be moved to send a gift, you probably shouldn’t be attending! Your friends and family love you though, and if you are too poor to travel to the wedding AND give a gift, I’m sure they would prefer your presence rather than a present.

When and where do I send a gift?

You can send a wedding gift almost any time! You can send it as soon as you receive an invitation or up to a year afterwards! I would recommend sending it around 1-3 months before the wedding, though if you have a particular thing you want to get off their registry, you should swoop in ASAP before it gets taken! I say send, because generally you are going to want to ship the gift to the couple ahead of time, not bring it to the wedding. This may vary regionally, so consult with other guests about what they are doing if you can. Cards can be brought to the wedding because they are small. Traditionally, gifts are sent to the bride’s home, but with everyone shacking up these days, you can send it straight to the couple’s home, unless instructed otherwise.

Do I have to have the gift wrapped?

No, lots of people send gifts unwrapped, in fact some couples prefer it for environmental reasons. I like gift wrapping personally, and will spring for it (Bed, Bath, and Beyond has the prettiest gift wrap, in my opinion!) However, regardless of whether you send a gift or drop it off at the couple’s home, make sure you include a card with both your first and last name so they will know who it is from!

What’s a good gift and how much should I spend?

A good gift can be anything you think the couple will like! You can buy things off their registry or you can think up something all on your own! Housewares are traditional, but don’t feel confined by that if you have something else in mind. Money is okay too. Some people say it is crass, or something, but hey, everyone likes it, and in some regions it’s preferred! As for how much you spend, that is also up to you. “Covering your plate” is nonsense. Some people budget for weddings according to how close they are to the couple, some people spend a certain amount for any wedding, and some people just go with what’s in their budget at the time.If you can’t attend a wedding, you are not obligated to send a gift, especially if you aren’t close to the couple, but a nice card would be a great gesture.

Also feel free to chip in on a group gift with other friends. Just make sure everyone agrees upfront how much they can afford to chip in.

How do I know what they want?

Most couples will post their registries on their websites. also compiles wedding registry information from most popular stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Macy’s and you can search for the names of any engaged couple you know! This is a good place to check if the couple doesn’t have a website. It’s also perfectly fine to ask the bride and groom, a close friend of the couple, or their parents.

I went to their house and didn’t see the gift I gave them. Do they hate me?

First of all, couples get a TON of wedding presents, it’s possible they just haven’t put it out yet or have to store some things until they move to a bigger place. Also, even with a registry, people get duplicate gifts and might have to return one. Or maybe they realized they don’t NEED a pasta maker after all because they can barely boil water. Either way, once a gift is given, it is up to the receiver to do whatever they want with it. I’m sure they truly appreciated your happy thoughts and your gift.

Is This Gift A Ploy For An Invitation?


Could it be…a passive-aggressive gesture?!?!?!

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

One of our wedding guests wanted to bring a +1 to the wedding. Initially we said no, but the guest then got us multiple nice gifts off our registry (Le Creuset, Lenox crystal…). Should we now say “yes”?


Almost at Venue Capacity


First of all, your guest is being extremely rude in requesting a +1 to your wedding. Never ever should a guest ask the host if they can bring someone to a formal event such as a wedding. We have established this. As to the gifts, it’s obviously rude to bribe someone to get them to do something you want them to do. Since this is so obviously rude, you should just assume the best and take the gifts as a simple sign of generosity.


Victoria: So this invitation bribery question…

Jaya: Yeah. Oy.

Victoria: Right!

Jaya: Though I mean really, fuck no you don’t have to invite anyone, right?

Victoria: Yeah, of course. I mean, there’s actually nothing more to say than that, except discussing feelings about it.

Jaya: Hahaha yeah. I can see where the guilt comes from, absolutely. If a stranger gets you a crystal vase worth hundreds of dollars, a nicely worded thank you note seems a little lame in return.

Victoria: Haha, a little bit!

Jaya: (My thank you notes are worth a million crystal vases.)

Victoria: Gifts have DEFINITELY gotten out of hand, but I also get it for older people who are all excited about young love and are feeling a bit flush and really are just very generous.

Jaya: Yeah, that can make sense. And that is what everyone should assume is the motive, because that should be the motive!

Victoria: Yep! And in like 90% of cases it probably is.

Jaya: I’m sure there are some sneaky people out there who think they can buy their way into a good party, but not many.

Victoria: Maybe the guest is even buying extra nice gifts to make up for their rudeness in asking! Best case scenarios!

Jaya: Yeah, and in general people need to consider their relationship to the couple. If you’re their best friend, go ahead and get them a nice gift. If you went to high school with the groom’s mom and keep in touch with her but haven’t seen her son since he was in grade school? A gift is probably not necessary, and will probably just make them feel uncomfortable and pressured to invite you.

Victoria: I think the only thing you can really do in this instance is accept the gift in the spirit of generosity in which it was offered and send a nice thank you note immediately. That’s it. What a mess.

Jaya: Yes. Write them a thank you note, figure out a way to use/return the gift, and if it’s a secret ploy for an invitation, that’s their problem, not yours.

Victoria: When in doubt, write a thank you note.

New Etiquette Rules We Learned From This Insane Email Exchange

IMG_2284We at Uncommon Courtesy are always on the lookout for the latest in modern etiquette: what’s become acceptable, what’s falling out of practice, etc. Which is why we were overjoyed to discover this illuminating email exchange between one bride and groom and a guest at their wedding. Here are some wedding rules we’ve apparently missed our whole lives!

  • Gifts are no longer de rigueur! As the bride points out, “People give envelopes.” In fact, “People haven’t gave gifts since like 50 years ago!” Oh, and those envelopes should be filled with money.
  • “Covering your plate” is back. This bride bemoans that she “lost out on $200 covering you and your dates plate… And got fluffy whip and sour patch kids in return.”
  • A wedding is an investment, so if you throw one, make sure it turns a profit. “Weddings are to make money for your future. Not to pay for peoples meals.” Or, as some people would call it, making your guests feel welcome.
  • Twigs are rude.

To find out the ACTUAL etiquette rules for wedding gifts, check out our post on how to buy a wedding present coming up in the next few weeks.