Wedding Gifts Etiquette

I recently posted on Facebook about my naivety in regard to wedding gift giving. I got SO MANY replies, I had to make a blog post about this!!! Here’s the summary that everyone should know.

Regarding Attending the Wedding

  • Even if you do not attend, you should still send a gift! (Oh shit. I owe some apologies to folks.) Remember they spent hours and hours combing through lists of family and friend and (probably) fighting over who makes the cut. You made the cut! Some pissed off family members didn’t. Show a little love in return.
  • Some felt that attending didn’t affect cost. Others said that small is okay for those that don’t attend.

Regarding Type of Gift

  • Loud and clear: Personalized and thoughtful gifts are the BEST! And often is remembered the longest.
  • Buying off the registry is obviously fine.
  • Gift cards to their registry location is nice.
  • Ideas for heartfelt gifts: heirloom recipe book from family members, membership to a loved museum + catalog of their collection, a really good bottle of wine that aged well intended for a future anniversary.
  • One person simply said: “Give them whatever the fuck you want.”
  • Then there’s Rafi’s wise words: “a $2,000 to $3,000 ice sculpture measured in metric, as standard is passé and a savvy bride or groom will know.”

Regarding Amount of  Gift

  • The older you get, the more you should spend. If you are over 25, at least $50 cash or $35 off the registry.
  • Three people believe the standard is $100-$250, depending on how close you are.
  • Another bride said that most common was $75 as a single guest and $100 as a couple.
  • “Cover Your Plate” rule: give enough to cover how much they spent on you. In NYC, at the fancy catering company I work for, it’s not unexpected to spend $300-$400/person for the wedding! More typical in the real world is $100/person.
  • “But I can’t predict how much they’re going to spend ahead of time.” Well, look at their invitation. Is it super duper fancy? (Life hack side note: spend a lot on the invitation then ask Chipotle to cater. YES!)

Regarding Traveling and Destination Weddings

  • One person said travel costs are not considered, unless they know you are poor (and 3 people liked this comment). Others said that your friends tend to know when their destination wedding is expensive, so chances are they’d say the gift is unnecessary. I think the consensus is to give a gift, no matter how far you’ve traveled–just doesn’t have to be expensive.

Extra Notes

  • Send the gift. That way, the bride and groom aren’t burdened with having to track the gift on the day of. I can personally back up this one as I work weddings!

My takeaway: Going or not, you should send a gift! (Oh man, I owe a lot of folks an apology…) Unless you’re really poor or this is a an expensive destination or trip for you, you should give something. The better you know the couple, the better the gift should be.

(And all this time, I thought I was the best gift of all! “YOU’RE WELCOME!”)


Special thanks to everyone who contributed!!

  • Brandon Kalbaugh
  • Christina de la Garza
  • Maria Yuan
  • Zag Ahmadi
  • Evan Silverberg
  • Katie Arb
  • Lester-John Pagala-Samson
  • Virginia Smith
  • Rafi Mittlefehldt
  • Katie Sloan
  • Denise Crouch
  • Lisa Ferguson-Warren
  • Barbara Barna Abel
  • Laura Hammer
  • Shashanah Newman Dattilo
  • Megan Minter Gray
  • Joe Lanza
  • Casey Geraghty (who is the person in the picture above…..although she doesn’t know I used this….tee hee hee?)
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3 Responses to Wedding Gifts Etiquette

  1. Angela January 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh crap. I owe a lot of apologies and gifts too. 🙁

    So this reminds me of a funny story from my classroom: some of my kids brought gifts for my birthday one year, so I wrote very kind thank you notes and sent them home with those children. One child, who did not bring a gift, was incredibly hurt that she did not receive a note too. I told her that I wrote notes for kids who brought presents and she exclaimed, “But you said a hug was the only gift you ever need!” I did tell her that. So I wrote a note and sent it home the next day.

    So in that spirit I think I deserve thank you notes for weddings I did not attend and gifts I did not buy. I will give hugs in exchange.

  2. leigh January 13, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nice try, Angela. What you’re saying is that at your wedding, you can just give a hug instead of a gift. Forget that nice plate!

  3. Sonya English March 29, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Worth noting:

    The most practical how-to-handle-weddings article I’ve read (as a 25yo girl in the wedding season of my 20s) came from a NYC actor/coach/blogger/caterer/secret-shopper man (from what I’ve learned in the past 10 min) and not HelloGiggles.

    Wonders don’t cease.

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