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Wedding Gift Giving Etiquette

It is customary to give a gift to celebrate an event in one’s life. Birthdays are a prime example of this. With weddings, from the time the couple announces their engagement to the end of the wedding reception, gift giving opportunities are plentiful. Here are some of the events that take place prior and after the wedding where gift giving is appropriate.

The Engagement Party
Engagement parties are not mandatory, and not every couple has one. But for those who do, guests are not obligated to bring a gift, but many will choose to do so. If the event is more formal, more than likely gifts will be given. If you do not wish for gifts at this time, you may want to hold a family and friends dinner and announce your engagement during the festivities. All presents given before or after the party or announcement should be followed up with a thank you note.

The Wedding – Before, During and After
Wedding gifts may be sent out as soon as the guests receive their invitations. Many couples choose to have a registry at one or more stores, and guests can select from the registry list. You should not include a gift registry list with your invitations - guests should ask the wedding party or those help plan your wedding where you are registered. A registry is designed to be helpful, but guests are not obligated to purchase from it. Many guests will select something personal for you, others may offer monetary gifts. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to calculate what guests should give at a wedding, and the monetary gifts you will receive will be varied. A gift is a token of love, and should not be expected to pay for the wedding itself. Keep in mind that many guests who are invited who can not attend the wedding, may send you gifts as well. If you think a guest may not attend due to traveling distance, poor health or monetary constraints, it is in better taste to send a wedding announcement after the wedding because an invitation carries with it an obligation to send a gift. All wedding gifts should be formally acknowledged no later than four weeks after the wedding.

The Bridal or Wedding Shower
Legend has it that a couple a long time ago who were deeply in love, but did not have the money to marry. Friends and family gathered together to shower the couple with gifts so that they could begin their life together. A bridal shower is usually hosted by the maid of honor but can be thrown by the wedding party or the mother of the bride. Bridal shower gifts may be purchased from the registry, but it is not mandatory. Bridal showers can be formal or casual, and can include only women or as more modern twist can include both genders. Again, all gifts should be acknowledged and thank you notes should be sent.

The Rehearsal Dinner
The rehearsal usually takes place the week before the wedding, and it is the final time the couple gets to formally gets together with the members of the wedding party. It is customary for the bride and groom to give gifts to the wedding party at this time to extend their gratitude. Typically, the bride gives gifts to the female attendants and the groom to the male attendants. The attendants may also give gifts to the couple at this time.

The Wedding Day
Traditionally couples give small gifts of thanks and appreciation to their guests in the form of wedding favors. Although wedding favors are not mandatory, they are a great way to thank your guests for attending your wedding. Whether you give one favor per guest or one favor per couple or family is up to you. There are no standards of etiquette for distributing wedding favors. However a good rule of thumb is one favor per couple/family and one favor per single guest. If you are doing something edible such as chocolate, you may want to give one per guest regardless. The wedding favors you select should reflect the couples style and personality.

As you can see weddings bring many occasions for gift giving. Although you may not have every event before your wedding, you will be showered with gifts by friends and family during the pre-wedding time. Plan time to write out your thank you notes so that your gift givers will know how much their generosity means to you.


Article Copyright 2007, Erica Tevis, Little Things Wedding Favors

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