The top gift questions asked by wedding guests

How soon should I send a gift?

Preferably, send your gift to the bride before the wedding or to the couple soon thereafter. In some regions gifts are brought to the reception and placed on a special table. Contrary to a current rumor that you have a year to send a gift, it really should be sent soon after you receive your invitation or, on the outside, within three months of the wedding.

Do I have to choose something from the bridal registry?

No. The registry is a convenience for guests, not a mandate. It’s a good idea to take a look, though, to get a sense for the couple’s needs and style.

Am I supposed to buy a gift that costs as much as what the hosts spend on each person at the wedding?

No. This modern myth causes considerable anxiety for guests, but it is simply untrue.

How much should I spend?

There is no rule, so it is entirely up to you. The amount you spend is strictly a matter of your budget, how close you are to the bride and groom, and what you think they would like. While it would be tempting to assign dollar values, everyone’s financial circumstances and relationships are different. Let your affection for the bride and groom and your budget be your guide.

Is it appropriate to give money?

Yes, money may be given as cash or by check. Cash gifts are often just right for couples who have already established their households or are saving for something special. In fact, in some cultures it is the traditional gift. That said, if you are uncomfortable giving money, it is always okay to give a gift of your choice (from the couple’s registry or not, as you like).

How do I give the couple a gift of money?

A monetary gift is either sent directly to the couple with a personal note, or into the financial gift registry. When a gift is sent to a financial institution or a travel agency where the couple has registered, the couple receives notification of the gift and its amount.

Can I send something I already own?

Yes, but only as long as it is in good condition—not a castoff—and you’re confident that the couple will like the item. Think heirlooms.

Don’t I have up to a year after the wedding to send a gift?

No, this is another myth. Gifts should be sent before the wedding or as soon after the wedding date as possible. But late is better than never so send your gift when you can.

Can I take my present to the wedding?

You can, but only if this is the tradition in the couple’s culture or community. If you’re sending a gift from one of the couple’s registries, it will be clearly listed where the gift is to be sent.

May I send a group gift?

Married couples and nuclear families generally send one gift, as do couples who live together. Group giving, when guests pool their resources to purchase a more elaborate gift, is also fine.

How do I know if my gift arrived?

A thank-you note from the couple is your best guarantee. You can also ask for delivery confirmation on gifts sent by mail or commercial delivery service.

What do I do if I don’t receive a thank-you note?

Give the couple a reasonable amount of time to send their thank-you—usually three months post-wedding. After that time, you’re free to ask if the gift was received.

What if I learn that my gift was returned or exchanged?

Say nothing. Returns and exchanges are common when a couple receives duplicate items.