Your best friend from high school just called: she’s getting married. Your joy for her knows no bounds. You call on your history together, her personality and love of the color fuchsia to come up with the perfect gift: a 100% pashmina wool "ring shawl" – just the right shade. You spend a little more than you intend, but she is so worth it. Then you get the invitation to the wedding. And the invitation to the shower that a friend is throwing. And the invitation to the shower that her mother is hosting. Are you going to have to buy gifts for all of these events? Read on.
An invitation to an engagement party implies that gifts are welcome -- unless the host or hostess state otherwise. A guest who is unsure about whether or not to bring a gift to an engagement party may simply ask the hosts for guidance.
A guest invited to a shower should bring a gift. If an invited guest can't attend, it is not obligatory to send a gift; however, a close friend or family member sometimes chooses to send a gift regardless. If a guest is invited to two – or more – showers, she is not expected to bring gifts to both.
Guests invited to the wedding have an obligation to send a gift, whether they are attending or not. There are few exceptions: If you live far away, have been out of touch with the couple for several years, etc., there's no need to send a gift. Also, the receipt of a wedding announcement after the wedding carries no gift obligation although you can send your "best wishes."
The amount spent on the gift should be based on your affection for and relationship with the couple – or their families – as well as your budget.
Appropriate wedding gifts run the gamut from fine china and small household appliances, to gardening tools and camping equipment, to cash. For the "shopping-challenged" among us, bridal registries simplify the process of finding the right gift. Registry information is discreetly spread by word of mouth or can be included as an insert in a shower invitation -- but should never grace the folds of a wedding invitation.
Generally, wedding gifts should be delivered to the bride's home or to the home of her parents before the wedding, addressed to the bride. When gifts are sent after the wedding, they are sent to the couple at their new address. When a couple is living together before the wedding, gifts are either sent to them at their home address or to the bride's parents if they are hosting the wedding. In some areas and cultures, it is customary to bring the gift to the wedding reception rather than deliver it ahead of time.
Gifts may be sent as soon as a guest receives an invitation. The advantage of sending gifts ahead of time is that the bride and groom do not need to worry about keeping gifts safe at the reception site and transporting them after the reception. Gifts should be sent before the wedding or brought to the wedding, not sent after.
Each and every wedding gift should be acknowledged by a hand written thank-you note from the bride and groom – ASAP. Couples should aim to write notes on the day the gift arrives, whenever possible. If it has been six months, one year, and the thank you notes have still not been sent, send them.