Top 5 Rules for Wedding Gift Etiquette You Should Know

Wedding gift etiquette can be a confusing thing to try and work out. Should you give a gift if you’re not attending the wedding? Is a cash gift ever acceptable? We’re going to answer all your trickiest wedding gift questions with the help of these 5 simple rules.

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, such as a flight or an 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.

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.

Luxury 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?

If you cannot afford anything on a registry list, don’t panic. It is not an obligation, it’s a guideline. Find out if the shop where the list is registered at has any cheaper non-listed items that match the ones the couple has chosen.

For example, if the list has a set of teacups on it, you could add a sugar bowl from the same collection or napkins from a sister brand. Alternatively, it is perfectly acceptable to chip in on a bigger 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 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.

Having said all this, you won’t ever see the word “cash” on the wedding invite! But nevertheless, sometimes when no gift etiquette is stated, cash could be implied.

In this case, 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 Jo and Alex 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. 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?

‘No gifts’ really does mean no gifts. Giving the couple a gift, when they’ve expressly told you not to do it, could make them and the other guests feel very uncomfortable. So don’t make that mistake.

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. The etiquette for couples states that 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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