Gifts at a Wedding (a Guide)
When two people get married, there are lots of gifts that need to be bought, both for them and by them. But when do couples and bridal parties buy gifts, and what should they buy?
There are three occasions when gifts need to be bought. The first is for a bridal or a wedding shower, the bridal party buy gifts for the bride/groom. The bride/groom also have to buy small gifts for the bridal party. Guests may also need to bring gifts for the wedding day, if specified, or send them either before or after the ceremony.
Of course, this is only what etiquette dictates. If you don’t want to either give or receive gifts, you can tell your guests that, so that everybody knows what to expect.
Do You Buy Gifts for The Bride at a Bridal Shower?
The point of a bridal shower or a wedding shower is to ‘shower’ the person who’s getting married with gifts. They’re intended to be a celebration for the person who’s getting married, a little time off from planning their wedding, and a treat. Normally for the brides, although grooms can have them too if they want.
What these gifts are depends on the person who you’re buying them for. Some people want gifts for their homes, like regular wedding gifts. Other people want something cute or fun. Normally, the bride/groom will specify what kind of gifts they want. If they haven’t, you can always ask.
Does the Bride/Groom Buy Gifts for a Bridal Shower?
Some people don’t know that the bride or groom can also buy gifts for the people who attend a bridal or wedding shower. Specifically, it’s common for the bride to buy gifts for her the bridal party. These gifts are normally something quite small, so you don’t have to break the bank, but they foster a sense of togetherness and serve as a nice memento.
These gifts can be gifted at the bridal shower. But what’s more common is for them to be gifted whenever the bride asks the person to be a bridesmaid. However, you could give them at the bridal shower if you prefer, it makes gift-giving reciprocal, which is nice.
So, what could you buy? Here are some ideas:
- Pandora bracelets (or cheaper charm bracelets, were not all made of money!!. You can customise these with all sorts of unique charms for each bridesmaid.
- Scent sets/regular perfume. While this idea can be hit and miss because not all people have the same taste (or more accurately, sense of smell!), it’s nice for the bridal party to have something in common.
- Spa treatments. Everybody can go to the spa together. Easy and fun!
- Little gifts like a compact with ‘bridesmaid’ written on it. There are lots of little gifts like these made especially for bridal parties.
Or, you can buy your bridesmaids whatever you want. This isn’t a historical part of wedding culture, there aren’t any rules regarding what you can and can’t buy. So, go hog wild and buy your bridesmaids anything they want!
What Gifts to Buy for a Wedding
You also have to buy a gift for the wedding reception. This is common practise and has been for a long time. So, unless the bride and groom have specified that you don’t need to, you should assume that you will.
Fortunately, many couples now create gift lists. This is basically a big list of things which the couple might like. If they’ve made one, they would normally let you know. If you’re not aware of one, ask the couple about it.
If there is a wedding gift list, you can either choose to buy from it, or buy something else. But if you do go off-piste, make sure you know for sure that they’ll like the gift. There’s no need to over complicate things
What to Buy If There’s No Gift List
If there isn’t one, most people will buy something that the couple can use for their new home. These might seem like boring gifts, but they serve an important purpose. First, they save the couple lots of money, which is always a good thing. But they also serve as a memento, so that any time the couple use (for example) their juicer, they’ll think of their wedding day, think of you, and be happy.
If the couple are planning on moving in together, or are moving from their current address to a new one, then gifts like these are definitely the way to go. Consider buying the couple:
- A set of bowls, plates or serving dishes
- Fancy silver cutlery
- Mixing bowls and bakeware
These days, though, there’s less need to focus on homeware gifts. That’s because almost all couples have already moved in together by the time they get married. So giving them lots of dishes, cutlery and kitchen goods would mean they have to throw all their own stuff out, or make room for it. As such, you can gift them something else (and more on that in a moment).
If you’re not clear, it’s easy enough to ask the bride and groom whether they’re expecting gifts or not, and what kind of gifts they’re expecting you to get. This might be a little awkward, but it’s nowhere near as awkward as turning up without a gift if they were expecting one.
Alternative Wedding Gifts
If you don’t want to gift a kitchen appliance, you still have lots of choices. Here are just a few ideas for you to choose from:
- Art. Few people buy nice art. Considering how we all have to scrimp and save these days, buying somebody art gives the couple something nice to decorate their home with. But beware: your taste might be different to theirs!
- Music collection. Everyone streams music these days; but remember mixtapes? They meant a lot, and making a mixtape or a whole personalised music collection for a person is a meaningful gift.
- A time capsule they can use. If you gift this at the wedding reception, the couple will have lots of things they can put inside.
- Cash. If you simply can’t think of anything, why not consider gifting cash? It’s perfect if you can’t think of anything the couple might want. Then, they can spend it on something important to them.
- A book. Books make the best gifts, because again, they’re meaningful. If you haven’t much money to spare, you could even gift the couple one of your favourite books (although if the couple or the party might think that makes you ‘cheap’, it might be best not to).
- Vintage wine. Everybody loves wine. Vintage wine is better than regular supermarket wine. That’s a recipe for a good gift!
If none of these ideas floats your boat, why not pick something out for the couple yourself? You can buy them anything you like, so long as they won’t be embarrassed opening it at the reception! You know the couple better than any online list, so brainstorm a couple of ideas and see what you can come up with.
Who Needs to Buy Wedding Gifts for the Couple?
Etiquette states that each person invited to the wedding has to buy a gift for the couple. That adds up to a lot of gifts, but that’s part of what makes weddings so special.
What this means is that some people don’t need to buy gifts. Plus-ones, for example, don’t need to buy gifts. Only one member of a family who you’ve invited has to bring a gift. It’s the person named on the invitation who has to. On the tag, you can write anything you like: ‘From Steve Smith’, ‘From Steve Smith & Family’, or ‘From Steve Smith, Angela Smith, etc…”
Of course, if you’re a plus one or a family member who doesn’t have to buy a gift, but you’d like to, you’re free to do so. The more gifts, the happier the couple will be
How to Give Gifts at a Wedding
There are a few ways to give your gift. The first is to send the gift before the wedding day at any time. The couple are then ‘supposed’ to unwrap the gifts once they get home after their wedding day, but don’t be surprised if they can’t wait!
The second way is to give your gift at the wedding reception. This is common practise, but if you’re planning on this, you may want to talk to the couple first. They may not be expecting gifts at the reception, and opening things in front of everyone might be embarrassing for them.
You can also send your gift after the wedding, although be careful if you do. A time limit of two to three months is normal, but the couple may wonder why you didn’t get them anything in the meantime.
Above all, follow your gut instinct! Buying gifts for people is hard, but it’s only made harder by overthinking and over complicating things. So, stick to what you know, and you should be fine.