WEDDING & SHOWER GIFTS
As the others have said, a lot is dependent upon how you know the Happy Couple… acquaintance, close friend, or relative. That is what will dictate more than anything else your obligation for giving a gift, and how much you spend.
According to the Post Institute and Peggy Post’s book *Wedding Etiquette*
It used to considered obligatory for anyone invited to a wedding to send a gift, whether they attended the wedding or not. This is still true when the recipients are friends whom you see from time to time or who live nearby…
Because invitations still carry a gift-in-return obligation, it is more proper to send a wedding announcement, which carries no gift obligation, to mere acquaintances or distant friends you haven’t seen in years. If you do send an invitation to people who are not close to you and they do not attend the festivities, you should not expect a gift in return.
Any formula wherein a wedding gift should cost at least as much as the bride and groom are spending on entertaining each person at the reception is a MYTH. Such extravagance is impractical, uncalled-for, and ostentatious – and therefore in poor taste. Fortunately, guests are learning that they have no such obligation. It is not the cost of the gift but the thought, the sentiment, and the practicality that count. The cost of a gift is based on the guest’s affection for and the relationship with the bride, the groom, or their families. No one should be made to feel that he must spend more than can be afforded. That doesn’t mean, however, that guests have the green light to be stingy in purchasing a gift. Each guest should simply give what he or she can afford, along with love and best wishes.
Wedding gifts are generally delivered to the bride’s home or the home of her parents before the wedding, and are addressed to the bride in her name. Gifts may be sent out as soon as a guest receives an invitation, mailed by the donor or sent directly from the store where they were purchased. Sometimes gifts are delivered in person. When gifts are sent after the wedding, they are sent to the couple at their new address, if known, or to their parents’ home. When a couple is living together before their wedding, gifts are either sent to them at their home address or to the bride’s parents if they are hosting the wedding. The circumstances are the guide.
In some localities and among certain ethnic groups it is customary for guests to bring a gift to the wedding reception rather than deliver it ahead of time. Gift packages should be put on a table set up for them. The newlyweds are not expected to open these gifts during the reception, but they should delegate the tasks of making sure they’re safe at the reception and of packing them up and transporting them from the reception to a safe place. In other cases, checks are handed to either the bride or groom in the receiving line or sometime before the end of the reception.
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Unless culture and custom dictate that shower gifts should be the equivalent of wedding presents, gifts given to the bride or engaged couple at a shower should not be elaborate. Traditionally, shower gifts were handmade for the occasion and such gifts are still treasured. If the shower has a theme, gifts should be appropriate to the shower. At a bath or kitchen shower, for example, guests comply by bringing towels or small appliances. Sometimes, guests contribute to a joint gift for the bride or the couple.
Shower gifts are to be presented to the bride, or the bride and groom, at the shower. If an invited guest can’t attend, it is not obligatory that she send a gift. (Often, close friends or relatives wish to, however, which is fine). If a non-attending invitee does send a gift, she should send it directly to the shower hostess – not from the store directly to the bride. (In this way the gift can be part of the celebration, and opened along side everyone else’s). The gift should be accompanied by a card to let the guest of honour know the name of the donor. Shower gifts are opened at the party, and each donor is thanked personally then and there. The bride may write thank-you notes later if she wishes: It is much appreciated if she does, but it is not absolutely mandatory – unless the donor was not there or did not receive thanks from the bride in person (at the shower).
Sometimes the invitation asks each guest to bring a gift for a Wishing Well, in addition to the shower gift. The Wishing Well gift is a small, inexpensive item, such as a measuring spoon or cup, an herb or spice, or a bar of scented soap. These presents may be wrapped or not, accompanied by a card or not, and put into a small model or replica of a well. Under no circumstances should these be large items, since the shower guest has invested in a shower gift and most likely a wedding gift too.
NOTE – There are a whole other set of Gift Giving Guidelines for gifts to Encore Brides (Showers) and Second Marriages (Weddings). If you need to know that stuff… just let me know.
Hope this helps,