As wedding season creeps up, I thought I’d spread some love with an etiquette lesson. I know, super romantic. But with wedding etiquette, people can be a little, well, touchy when it comes to the dos and don’ts of gift giving (and receiving). Honeymoon funds can cause tension, and buying something like a toaster is often redundant when couples already live together.
Whether you’re the soon-to-be-married couple looking for wedding gift list etiquette, or a frantic guest needing some guidance, you’ve come to the right place.
Wedding Gift List Etiquette
Making a list is a smart way to mitigate the risk of receiving something
awful that just isn’t quite your style. It can be specific, of course, but it needs to be realistic. If you’re taking away people’s creative gift buying freedom, then there should still be some variation in your selection. Namely, price.
Not everybody can afford, or wants to part with, a lot of money. Sure, you’ll get some family members who will slip you a check on the dancefloor, but your friends and work colleagues will probably have a budget. Here’s some pointers for wedding gift list etiquette:
1) Too much is better than too little
Don’t match the number of guests to the number of gifts you include in your list. If your work friend happens to leave it until the last minute and the only thing left for them to buy costs $110, chances are they’ll be feeling a bit sour. You will have stuff left over from your list, but it’s a sure-fire way to guarantee you’ll get most of what you want.
2) Leave your list open for a month after the wedding
Be flexible. It’s not like you’ll be opening the gifts on your wedding night, anyway (nudge nudge, wink wink). Whether people need more time to get the money together or want to use the wedding photos as part of your gift, it’s a nice gesture and shows you’re not a complete bridezilla.
3) Include presents to suit all budgets
Close friends and family members might be more than happy to shell out a Benjamin, but it’s likely that work friends and not-as-close friends don’t feel this way. You can alleviate this by making sure your wishlist has items if different price categories.
4) Be savvy with honeymoon funds
Some people think a honeymoon fund is great, and some hate it. Such is life, right? With some honeymoon funds, you can donate any amount you like. This seems like a good idea, but it can make people who can’t donate as much feel uncomfortable as it’s there for everyone to see. A savvy way to overcome this is to itemize your honeymoon fund options, starting with the lowest priced activity and working your way up. Like this:
- Buy us a cocktail
- Take us out for dinner
- Help us get there & back
- Upgrade our room
- Rent a car for us
- Send us to the [insert landmark name]
Gift Giving – Wedding Etiquette Style
Sometimes it can feel like there are so many made-up rules about weddings and all of them seem to clash. Traditions vary from culture to culture but the expectations are tough to navigate anywhere.
Putting price aside, here are some wedding etiquette rules for gifts.
- Buy artwork. Unless you know their favorite painter and art pieces, artwork is better reserved for the couple to choose.
- Get something they can’t use. For example, if they don’t have a garden, don’t get them outdoor dining things or gardening tools.
- Worry about gifts for a destination wedding. If you’re celebrating with the couple abroad, they know you’ve taken time off work and have arranged to celebrate with them.
- Regift! While regifting isn’t always a bad thing, it’s not the best option for a wedding.
- Try to be funny. Books about ‘How to Train Your Wife’, or crude items like edible underwear are just in bad taste. Literally and figuratively.
- Stick the list if there is one. If there’s absolutely nothing left on the list that you feel comfortable buying, see below.
- Give cash if you want! Nobody is going to stick their nose up at a cash or check.
- Be personal. If you know the couple well, a personalized gift can be a thoughtful keepsake that they’ll cherish forever.