Source: Martha Stewart Weddings
You just scored an invite to all of the soon-to-be-married couple’s pre-wedding parties. As a dear favorite of the duo, you’re excited to be there to celebrate every milestone leading up to the big day, but you might also be feeling a little confused about which events require gifts. Yes, plural! When you have the engagement party, bridal shower, and bachelorette party on the agenda—in addition to the big day, itself—how do you go about deciding when to bring a present? And, perhaps more importantly, is it ever okay to show up empty-handed?
The short answer? Yes, depending on which event you’re attending, of course. To save you any pre-wedding stress, we’ve outlined a quick cheat-sheet-style-guide to wedding-related-event gifting. With this handy advice, you won’t have to worry about maxing out your budget at every single celebration (it’s just not necessary!). You also won’t have to be concerned about being the only attendee who walks into the room without a perfectly-wrapped registry present. We’ll warn you though—some pre- and post-wedding fêtes are a little ambiguous. Take the engagement party, for example. If you’re a super-close family member, a small gift might not be expected, but it’s definitely appreciated. If you’re a member of the couple’s friend group, though, a bottle of Champagne or a handwritten card will do the trick
That’s the thing with weddings—nothing, beyond the color palette, of course, is black and white! To clarify, here’s a breakdown of when it’s appropriate “to give or not to give” (a gift).
The Engagement Party
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to engagement party gifts, but presents aren’t usually expected. With that being said, a little something is definitely appreciated. While some close family members may buy a small present for the couple with the new Facebook status, friends often bring nothing but a card or a bottle of wine or Champagne. Still, though, they’re small gestures that go a long way. Want to play it safe? Ask the host of the party for more information if you’re undecided about what to do.
The Bridal Shower
The whole point of this all-female party is gifts galore—guests “shower” the bride with everything from toasters to teddies to theater tickets. If she has a registry, look there first, and if something strikes you, buy it before someone else does. Or take a glance at the registry for ideas and buy a gift elsewhere. (The registry is merely a convenience for guests—no one is obligated to buy from it.) If there’s a gift theme—the host will include it on the invite—factor that into your purchase pick.
There’s a myth that’s been around for decades that guests have a year from the day of the nuptials to give a gift. Ridiculous! Just as you wouldn’t wait 12 months to bestow a birthday present on a pal, don’t wait any longer than three months—if you must—to give a gift to the newlyweds. And if the registry is picked over? Cash (or a check!) is always appreciated. The couple can put money gifts towards a house down payment or any residual household goods they need. One other silly myth to banish from your brain: that your gift should be equal to the per-person cost at the reception. Instead of trying to match dollar for dollar, base your gift on your budget and how close you are to the new spouses.
The Post-Wedding Bash
If the wedding guest list is tiny, couples often throw a party when they return from their honeymoon for their larger circle of friends. This way, no one feels left out. Since it’s not exactly a wedding reception, the gift question is ambiguous. Some guests will bring a gift while others will not. If you’d like to bring more than a bottle of your favorite screwtop to the party, feel free.