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Wedding Gift Rules

5 Wedding Gift Rules You Shouldn't Break

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Buying a wedding gift might actually be the easiest gift you ever pick out. Why? Because most couples create registries to lead you directly to what they want. With that in mind, here are some wedding gift registry commandments every guest should live by.

Thou Shall Not Skip the Registry
A bride and groom create a wedding registry for a very specific reason: to ensure they get the essential items they need to start their new life together. While you might not find a vacuum cleaner or a blender to be a thoughtful or heartfelt gift, keep in mind it's exactly what the couple wants, so you really can't go wrong by purchasing it.

Thou Shall Not Underspend
Typically, the average person spends about $75 to $100 on a wedding gift. That amount increases in larger cities like New York, LA, Miami, and Boston. Keep that figure in your head while scanning the bride and groom's gift registry. If you find that nothing is left at that price level, it's perfectly acceptable to pool your funds with several friends to purchase a larger item for the couple such as a set of luggage, TV, or grill. If you have committed the gift registry sin of "waiting until the last minute to shop" and everyone else has already spent on a gift, consider buying the couple a gift card to one of the stores they registered at. That way, they can still put it towards one of the items on their registry.


For the rest of rules you shouldn't break, keep reading.

Thou Shall Not Bring Your Gift to the Wedding
It's no longer considered the norm to bring gifts to the wedding reception. Don't burden the bride and groom with worries of transporting their gifts on their wedding day. More and more couples are getting married far from home and don't have the space or the resources to store gifts until they return home. While monetary gifts are completely acceptable at a ceremony and reception, all other gifts should be shipped to the address on the couple's registry (usually the bride's parents' home if the couple doesn't live together or directly to the couple). When in doubt, just ask the mother of the bride.

Thou Shall Buy a Gift Even If You're Not Attending the Wedding
If you've been invited to a wedding and find you're unable to attend, you're still responsible for sending a gift. As a close friend or family member, you should still send something to wish the newlyweds well and write a note explaining why you're unable to attend.

Thou Shall Not Send a Gift After the Wedding
Forget having up to one year to buy a gift for the bride and groom -- this rule no longer applies. These days, it's considered bad manners to send the couple a gift any more than six months after their wedding date. So shop early when there are still items available on the registry and you're more likely to find something you can be genuinely happy about sending them.

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Join The Conversation
mloft72 mloft72 6 years
Thou Shalt Not Underspend? Thou shall by a gift even if you're not attending the wedding? Seriously? In my circle, $100 would be a group gift. You should buy a gift because you want to celebrate in their happiness, not to keep up with others or because you got an invite. I've read a number of Ms. Manners answers for advice that state an invite should not obligate someone to give a gift.
jessfish25 jessfish25 7 years
"Thou Shall Buy a Gift Even If You're Not Attending the Wedding" ?? Sorry, not this girl. Unless it's someone very close to me & I can't attend for other reasons... usually the reason I don't attend a wedding is because I can't afford a gift for them.
bunnyhorse bunnyhorse 7 years
I read this with a raised eyebrow, and I'm glad to see many of you commenting have the same opinion. While giving a nice gift is good etiquette, it is ALSO good etiquette not to expect gifts. I think people should only spend what they can afford, and those receiving gifts should appreciate getting anything at all. Savvy shouldn't advocate people spending beyond their means. The wedding industry is already a behemoth without this site perpetuating it.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
"Thou Shall Not Underspend" Uh. And why are we in a recession? Considering how poor many people are at this moment, I would be happy just for them to attend my wedding. I wouldn't expect them to give up food money to get me a gift. I know many people who are living paycheck to paycheck, they don't even have $75 for food for the next 2 weeks. I think the guests should buy what they can afford. There's a difference between just being cheap and not having the money. "Thou Shall Buy a Gift Even If You're Not Attending the Wedding" Maybe the person is going because they can't afford a gift. Also, there are a lot of couples who send out invites to people they know can't attend just to get gifts. A wedding isn't a gift grab. If they're close to the couple, then I could see that, but not every wedding invite you get deserves a gift.
amber512 amber512 7 years
$75? Where in the world is everyone living? The average gift we got was $25-$75. I think the MOST I have ever spent on someone's wedding present was $30. Is everyone a doctor or something? I can't even afford to spend that kind of money on MYSELF!
skigurl skigurl 7 years
Yetti: I would say a card and a bottle of wine is enough to say "congrats" as a guest, but your fiance's help to them is enough of a gift.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
I don't think you need to bring a gift, Yetti: it sounds like your fiance's work as a photographer is a great gift !
Yettivolta Yettivolta 7 years
Me and my fiance are going to his cousin's wedding being held abroad. My fiance is doing the wedding photography (as he's a photographer) as a wedding gift (big save for the couple) and so I'm wondering whether I am still obliged to bring a gift. I know it's really my fiance who's doing the photos for them, but it's a big gift and also we are spending on the flight and accommodation and my partner is adamant that I should not bring a gift. I have never met the couple. Anyone with good advice???
skigurl skigurl 7 years
Chrstne - My bf and I were just in his sister's destination wedding (around $3000 total for both) plus stuff to wear etc. and we gave them $200 from both of us. The way I see it, we paid for the trip like 6 months before we went to it, so that money was long gone, and it's his sister. We just didn't want to seem cheap...we were about to give $150 but we figured what's $25 each additional to feel good about the gift. I think they appreciated it. They certainly didn't seem to think it was too much, or they didn't say that anyway.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I think the $74-$100 is per couple, not per person. But that's just my view. I disagree with the "thou shalt not send a gift after the wedding" one. Especially if you're not bringing a gift to the reception (which I agree is too burdensome). I have quite a few friends who have gotten married, and they all said that the best thing is getting later gifts from people in the mail, because it comes as a surprise and makes every week feel like Christmas.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
My BF and I are in a wedding party at a wedding next week (one of his sister's) and we are already paying out the ass just to travel to their destination wedding (upwards of $1500). I personally don't think $100 is a cop out as a gift from two people...I mean, money is tight, and we're already spending a lot. I don't know if that would be considered poor manners, but sometimes it's not about manners, it's about what you can and cannot reasonably do.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
I can agree with this. The $75-$100 is for one person? What if it's a couple attending, is the norm around $150-$200 then? That's what I figure, if it's a close friend or family. We're going to a wedding this summer of someone who is not really that close to us (we're actually surprised we're even invited) so I think we may give a wee bit less...or at least on the lower end. But who knows.
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