Your Wedding Gift Giving and Return Etiquette Questions Answered
November 15, 2017
Purchasing wedding gifts for couples these days is much more complicated than it used to be. Many couples live together pre-marriage so they already have most home essentials, meaning for their wedding they'll likely either choose to upgrade to pricier brands, or register for life events and experiences.

For guests and engaged couples alike, this means navigating the gift giving and return process can be a bit tricky! We sat down with wedding expert Cristen of Cristen & Co. Events, to answer some of the most common gift giving and return questions for modern-day registries and weddings.

When is it ok to go off the registry? If you do, what type of items should you buy?

A registry is created by the couple for items and products they may need and/or want. If you are extremely close to the couple and have a few ideas in mind that are off registry it is okay to purchase something that is sentimental or something you know they would enjoy having, they can put to good use.

If the item is small and sentimental I still recommend purchasing something small from their registry to accompany it. I would not just buy something from the registry that has no purpose. If you intend not to purchase anything on the registry list then I recommend gifting a check and they can put that towards something they would like to purchase in the future.

If you're invited to multiple wedding events, should you buy both a shower gift and a wedding gift?

If you're invited to both the shower and the wedding, you're probably a close friend or relative of the couple. It is expected that you buy a gift for both occasions. In order to keep costs down, go in on a big gift with other people, or get them something smaller for the shower, and a larger gift for the wedding.

How much should you be spending on a wedding gift?

This is tricky because it really depends on your budget. I always say you give a gift because you want to. The couple invited you to celebrate such a happy time in their life, and however, you gift them is really appreciated! You can either gift them something from their registry or deliver a card with a check. If you're looking for spending guidelines, here's what I normally recommend:

Close friend or family member: $150+
Relative or friend: $100+
Co-worker or distant relative: $50+

How much time do you have to give a wedding gift?

Tradition says that you have an entire year to send a gift. However, so you don't forget—and before the couple mails out thank you cards—it is easier to send within a couple of months after the wedding date. Also, remember tradition is if you are a family member and can't attend the wedding, it is customary to still send a gift.

Is cash acceptable?

I recommend check vs. cash and it is completely acceptable. If the couple doesn't have someone looking after their gifts like a wedding planner or family member there is the potential for stolen goods as many know that cards are very common and stuffed with monetary goods. I have heard it happen in the past from other industry vendors to client family members. Giving a check gives the couple freedom to spend it on their honeymoon, first house, or a fun date night and you the peace of mind that it could be canceled.

How do returns typically work? Are guests notified?

It is important to put a gift receipt with the gift you are giving to the couple. There could be a chance that the couple received multiple of the same gift and/or changed their mind about something they had on their registry. To make things easier, they can simply return with the gift receipt and exchange the piece for something else and the guest may not necessarily be notified unless the couple reached out to let them know. However, if the guest didn't provide a gift receipt and requires the couple to reach out about the duplicate gift, you may receive a note then.

Style Me Pretty Contributor – Julia Hurwitz is a freelance writer and Marketing Manager based in New York City. Her interests include travel, global craft, healthy baking, entertaining and exploring the outdoors.