If you’re getting ready to tie the knot, you’re probably dealing with questions of etiquette more now than you ever will throughout the rest of your life. While it’s always important to be polite, weddings are absolutely swimming in tons of etiquette based rules.
The toughest time to work with etiquette is usually when it comes to wedding gifts. While you’ll most likely get lots of gifts at your wedding and bridal shower, you should never put on a huge wedding with the expectation of receiving more gifts. A wedding is about having people you love witness one of the most important days in your life, not about getting more stuff for your home or apartment!
With that said, as a soon-to-be bride or groom, you’re definitely going to have to deal with some sticky decisions about wedding gifts, and you want to make the most polite decisions possible. Here are a few do’s and don’ts surrounding wedding gift etiquette:
Do set up a registry
Even if you don’t need or want much for your wedding, setting up a wedding registry is a good idea. Most people these days will expect you to have at least one small registry to give guests ideas for wedding gifts. If you don’t need many new things for your home, you can always add lawn items to your registry, or you can upgrade some things you already have, such as linens and flatware. If you only have a small registry, many guests will take the hint and bring cash or checks, anyway!
Don’t include registry information in the invitations
No matter how many gift registries you have or how many people ask you about where you’re registered before you even send out wedding invitations, it’s bad form to put registry information with your invitations. According to the renowned Emily Post Institute, putting registry information in invitations puts the focus on the gifts, rather than on the guests simply being a part of your big day. You can, however, put registry information on your wedding website (and put a link into your invitations), allow your shower host to include registry information with your shower invitations, and spread registry information by word of mouth. Make sure your bridal party and close family members know where you’re registered, and most people will figure it out from them.
Do consider and alternative registry
Many brides wonder if alternative registries are acceptable. These days, internet registries, which are really a conglomeration of registries from other stores or sites, honeymoon registries, and even charity registries are all options presented to brides and grooms. The Emily Post Institute says that these registries are all perfectly acceptable, as long as you follow the other rules of registry etiquette.
Don’t register for only the most expensive items in the store
Remember that your registry is less a wish list than a helpful tool for your guests to use, and keep your guests in mind when creating a registry. Vary the prices of the items on your registry as much as possible. It’s fine to register for two or three big-ticket items, as some groups of people might go in together to buy them for you, but make sure you also have middle-of-the-road and lower-priced items on the registry. This will keep guests with a lower gift budget from feeling like they can’t possibly buy you anything you’ll want or need.
Do set a limit on the number of registries you open
It’s not impolite to have two or even three registries, but do limit the number of registries you open. Having too many registries simply looks greedy, and it can be confusing for both you and guests. Plus, it makes it much easier to get duplicate gifts, which no one likes to deal with! An online registry can make it easier to add things from different stores without creating a whole new registry, but make sure you have at least one traditional registry for a store that is located in the area where most of your guests are from, for those guests who prefer to do their shopping in person.
Don’t forget to write charming thank you notes
This is probably the biggest key to wedding gift etiquette out there. You absolutely must write personalized thank you notes to your guests, and you must write them as soon as possible. This is especially true of guests who send you gifts through the mail, as these guests may not know for sure that you even received their gifts until they get a thank you note! Contrary to what you might hear otherwise, you do not have a year to write thank you notes! Shower thank you notes should be mailed before your wedding, and you should have thank you notes for your wedding gifts out within two or three weeks of arriving home from your honeymoon.
Do get creative with your thank you notes
Creative thank you notes are always appreciated by wedding guests! If you have a honeymoon registry, for instance, you could take photos of you and your new spouse enjoying the various experiences your guests paid for, and include those in your thank you notes. Another popular option is the notecard or post card thank you note made from your favorite wedding photo. You can have these made inexpensively online, and they can be so much more fun and personal than generic thank you notecards!
Don’t rely on a registry to furnish your home or send you on a honeymoon
Many couples end up relying too much on a wedding registry and gifts to furnish their home or, if they’re using a honeymoon registry, send them on a honeymoon. Before you get married, make sure you’re capable of putting together your own home or paying for most of your own honeymoon on your own, since you never know how generous your guests may decide to be! If you need a little help getting started, you might look into some of the best credit card deals for married couples. A credit card used responsibly can also be a good way to boost your credit rating while you’re furnishing your home or paying for part of your honeymoon.
Wedding gift etiquette can seem difficult to navigate, but the rules are in place mainly so that couples don’t seem greedy and so that guests know they are being invited to a wedding for what they add to a couple’s life – not what they add to their home or honeymoon! When in doubt, you can check out traditional etiquette information from the Emily Post Institute, or you can trust your own common sense and the advice of others around you.