The Guest’s Guide to Giving

Giving a gift to a couple for their wedding sometimes proves to be a difficult task for guests to accomplish. I am frequently asked what my recommendations are for a good gift to give a couple. I am also frequently told by my clients about the gifts they received that they hated, and worse yet, the gifts they never received from people that attended (drank and ate at) their weddings. Thus, here is today’s blog.

First and foremost, is the couple registered anywhere? There are a few ways to find this out. Google is this nifty little website where you can search out things on the internet. Put in the couple’s name, the word “wedding” and see what happens. If they are on www.theknot.com like many other couples, their registry will pop right up (if they have one). Of course, you could also go straight to TheKnot.com and use their search function to find the couple’s registry and wedding information. 

If nothing comes up, then flat out ask the couple if they are registered. If they didn’t include a registry note with their invitation, they might have completed their registry after they sent out their mail. Trust me, if a couple is registered, they want you to know.

Once you have their registry, buy from it. I cannot tell you the amount of people that look at a registry list (and it could be a mile long) and say to me that they hate everything on there. Well good thing the gift isn’t for you! A cardinal sin would be to buy something from the store they are registered at but ISN’T on the registry. Put down that Waterford bowl because they did not ask for it.  You think they will love it anyway? I doubt it. Oh, they can return it if they don’t? How nice of you to give them a gift they didn’t want and then force them to bring it back to the store (because you have a lot of down time when planning a wedding) to get whatever credit they can. Do you like making store returns? Those lines at the register and the banter back and forth are your thing? I didn’t think so.

BUY. FROM. THE. REGISTRY.

Now, no registry? No worries. That means they want money. That does not mean for you to go shopping somewhere else for *that gift* that they must have. Unless you are amazingly creative (and I mean really be honest with yourself), then do the easy thing that they want you to do: write out a check. At almost every single wedding there is a card box put out on a table. As soon as you get to the reception, drop your card off in the box and boom, you’re done! That card needs to have a check in it. Seriously. A card with no check is no bueno. 

Money isn’t personal? They don’t care. Really, trust me. I have never had clients complain to me about all of the checks they received at their wedding. Instead, they are putting that money to pay for whatever wedding expenses are left, or to a new house, or to other items that weren’t purchased off their registry because Aunt Millie was super positive they wanted a particular slow cooker that they did not ask for. 

Worst of the worst offenses: not giving a gift. I don’t understand it, at all. Yes, there is this little bit of etiquette that states a guest has up to a year to give a gift after the wedding. I disagree with Emily Post right here. There is no reason to wait to give a gift. If you’re having monetary issues, then speak with the couple and let them know. Don’t play slick, show up to their wedding, drink their alcohol and eat the venue food that probably cost upwards of $150 for just you, and then not give a gift that same exact night. They had to pay for you in advance so you best show up with a gift.

Last piece of advice: don’t leave your card on the table. While our clients don’t have to worry about this, since we check the tables and hand deliver the card box to the person or place of our client’s choosing, not everyone hires us (super weird, right?). If you leave your card on the table, odds are that the catering staff will wrap it up in the linens at the end of the night and your card will wind up in the laundry. Meaning you won’t get a thank you note from the couple and that just leads to years of awkward run-ins where they want to ask why you didn’t give anything and you want to ask why they didn’t thank you. 

That about covers the gift giving advice that we can offer. We hope that couples will share this as they plan their wedding because the truth is, a lot of guests don’t know right from wrong. Education is important. The more you know….

One thought on “The Guest’s Guide to Giving

  • “Don’t play slick, show up to their wedding, drink their alcohol and eat the venue food that probably cost upwards of $150 for just you, and then not give a gift that same exact night.”

    Hey, I’m honored to be included in any event that cost $150 to host just me. On the other hand, I’d like to think I’ve returned the sentiment by spending $400 on the plane ticket and around $200 in hotel expenses.

    That’s not to say I’ve shown up giftless, but I’ve also never spent as much as $150 on a gift. I don’t think the bride and groom have ever been offended.

    Does “It’s the thought that counts” not mean anything anymore? Am I a hopeless romantic to believe that a wedding is supposed to be the celebration of a couple’s love and not a cash grab?

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