Top 5 Rules for Wedding Gift Etiquette – How Much to Spend, When Not to Give and More

Wedding gift etiquette can be a confusing thing to work out. This week we’re going to demystify this controversial topic, answering your trickiest questions.

1. I’m spending a lot of money to travel to a wedding. Do I still have to give a gift?

The answer is no.

When paying out a lot of money to go to a wedding – flight or an expensive overnight stay – you do not have to buy an expensive gift on top.

In this case, it’s fine to just give a small, affordable gift.

⭐ Top tip: Either choose an inexpensive item on the gift registry list, or chip in on a bigger gift item with friends. Alternatively, if no gift registry list is stated, give the couple a small but meaningful present, like a framed photo.

2. I’m not going to the wedding. Should I still send a gift? 

Yes. Even if you don’t attend the wedding, you should still send a gift.

There might be a gift registry list on the invite. In that case, choose whatever you think appropriate or share the cost of a big item with friends.

If there are no instructions, you should still send something small as a way of thanking the couple for the invitation.

The best time to send a gift, if you’re not attending, is when you RSVP. However, it’s also within the bounds of etiquette to send your gift up to 60 days after the wedding.

⭐ Top tip: Experience vouchers – a day at the spa, a night at a boutique hotel or a fancy meal at a great restaurant – are perfect ways to say, ‘sorry I couldn’t make it but enjoy this one on me’.

3. I cannot afford anything on the gift registry list. What should I do?

Wedding invitations Image credit / via Kasal.com

If you cannot afford anything on a wedding gift registry list, don’t panic. A gift list is not an obligation, it’s a guideline.

Find out if the gift registry shop has any cheaper non-listed items that match the ones the couple has chosen. For example, if the gift registry list has a set of teacups on it, you could add a sugar bowl from the same collection.

Alternatively, you could chip in on a gift with other guests.

4. The couple has asked for cash, but I’m embarrassed to ask how much

In Mediterranean countries, a wad of crisp banknotes is the only proper wedding gift. But in the UK asking for money can cause a lot of controversy.

When you think about it, cash gifts make a lot of sense though. These days, most people don’t need furniture, appliances or cutlery for a new household because they’re probably already living together.

You won’t see the word “cash” on the wedding invite. When no gift etiquette is stated, you should phone the couple’s close family or friends and ask.

They may tell you outright to give cash or casually mention something like, ‘I’m sure Sarah and John would be so grateful if you wanted to help with the baby/house/honeymoon’.

How much cash should you give? The same amount as you would have spent on a gift.

⭐ Top tip: Not convinced? There are banks, department stores, honeymoon travel agencies and websites where you can open a cash gift account for the couple.

5. The couple has said NO gifts. Do they really mean it?

Pink sapphire inspired pink wedding theme WeddingBoard_TheDiamondStore01b

‘No gifts’ really does mean no gifts.

Giving a couple a gift when they’ve expressly told you not to, could make them and the other guests feel very uncomfortable. So don’t do it.

And finally, a top tip for the couple…

If you invite someone to your wedding, you should take into account your guests’ financial situations, time constraints and the stress of travel.

You should never expect a present, nor make a fuss if you don’t like a gift. Presence, not presents, is what counts.


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