Wedding gifts - giving and receiving

Wedding gifts – giving and receiving them-is one of the traditional and fun aspects of a wedding celebration. Some tips and etiquette on the giving and receiving of wedding gifts…

Giving of gifts…tips for the guest

If you receive a wedding invitation, it is customary to send a gift, irrespective of whether or not you are able to attend the wedding. Announcements, however, carry no obligation of a gift. If you are an unmarried couple, living together, it is perfectly acceptable to give a single gift. If you are invited along with a guest, and the bride/groom is your friend/relative, gift giving is your responsibility and not that of your guest.

Unless you have already decided on something you would like to present the couple with, or are one of those people who are happy to shop around, it is a good idea to look at the couple’s wedding gift list of registry for options and choices. You could alternatively present the couple with cash so that they may buy something of their own choice.

The gift a guest chooses to present to the couple, or the amount he/she decides to spend on it, is often dictated by the relationship one shares with the couple or the family and is also influenced by the individual’s finances. There are no explicit rules regarding this and as long as you’re not being particularly miserly, what you choose to give is your prerogative.

Sending a gift when one receives the wedding invitation, or as close to the wedding date as possible, is a good idea. However, due to mitigating circumstances, sometimes a gift arriving after the wedding, especially if it took place on short notice, is also acceptable.

Sometimes, a guest may choose to hand over the gift personally at the reception – in which case, it may be placed on a table designated for the purpose - or in the case of a cash gift, it may be handed over to the couple when wishing them.

Sending gifts over instead of carrying them to the reception, is easier for the couple, as it is less of a problem to transport them later, especially if it is unwieldy.

Gifts may be sent through mail or a delivery service. As the invitations are ordinarily issued by the bride’s parents, typically gifts too are sent to the bride/ her parent’s home. Alternatively, the gift may be addressed to the couple, especially if they are hosting the reception, and delivered to their home, if they are already living together.

Receiving gifts… tips for the couple

Ensure that there are enough items on your gift list to provide guests with sufficient choice, both in terms of budget and variety. By having more items on your gift list than the number of guests, you will also ensure that you don’t receive too many duplicates. If you’re planning to go in for a gift registry, monitor and update it periodically so that guests choosing to buy you a gift at the nth hour, continue to have a range to choose from and not just the last few items left after everyone else has finished.

When a gift has been received through a delivery service or via mail, it is polite, especially if you are unable to send out a thank-you note immediately, if you call or email to let your guest know that his/her gift has been delivered. This also serves as a reassurance to the sender regarding the status of delivery. Irrespective, whether or not you extend this courtesy, etiquette demands that you must ultimately formalize your gratitude for the gift and convey the same through a thank-you note.

It is the most enjoyable if the bridal couple can open their gifts together, but this may not always be possible, especially if the bride and groom live far away from each other. In such cases, it is best not to delay opening a gift until the couple has a chance to do it together. You may be proceeding on your honeymoon immediately after the wedding and delaying opening gifts translates into a delay in sending out your thank-you’s.

Ordinarily, gifts are sent to the bride’s home, but sometimes, custom gives way to convenience. If gifts are sent to the groom’s home by some guests, it is a good idea to make sure the receipt of gifts is done in an organized manner, a record is kept of the same and that ultimately, relevant information is relayed to the bride regarding gifts arriving from different sources.

It helps to keep a record of gifts when they are received, both to safeguard against being clueless later, in case the tag on the gift gets lost, as well as in sending out the appropriate thank-you. A master list with all the guests’ names comes handy, with a corresponding notation/ entry pertaining to the gift. Helpful information with respect to keeping track of gifts includes the date of receipt, the item received, and an entry/ date when the thank-you is sent. When recording the item received, a description helps. For instance if you receive towels, it helps to describe ‘monogrammed (inscription), shade, quantity, in the event you receive more than one set. This helps you to be more specific when you are thanking the guest for his/her gift.

For guests who choose not to have the gift delivered to you but carry it along to the reception, you must keep a table handy where they can place their gifts. Assign someone from the wedding party or anybody you consider responsible, to coordinate arrangements of transporting the gifts to the final destination – whether the couple’s home or their parent’s home. If guests are gifting checks, they ordinarily hand it over to the bridal couple. Again, the couple may choose to have someone responsible in the family retain the checks with them for safekeeping, so that the couple themselves can enjoy the festivities without having to worry about misplacing the checks, etc.


It is wonderful to receive a wedding gift but you must remember the importance of conveying your gratitude and appreciation to the sender. The etiquette of thank-you’s demands…

…That you thank the sender as soon as possible and in writing. It’s best not to put off writing a thank-you note and let them pile up. Responding on the same day or within a few days of receiving a gift saves you the tension and effort later when you will have to write too many, as well as makes the sender happy that you cared enough to respond promptly.

…That you make your note as personal and individual as possible and don’t resort to tailor-made or preprinted alternatives. Depending on the person you’re addressing, whether a close relative/ friend or a business colleague, your note can assume different hues. It can be slightly formal for a business relationship or casual and even humorous for a closer relationship.

…That the note expresses thanks from the couple even though it may be written by the bride. It’s also nice if the couple shares the responsibility for writing out thank-you’s or at least for composing them, so that the notes to guests from the groom's side can also be personal.

…That you be gracious while expressing your appreciation for the gift, even if you don’t really like it or it doesn’t suit your taste and you plan to exchange it.