What should you give as a wedding gift?

The time when couples needed a wedding trousseau are long gone. So where to go for inspiration?

Nathalie Slight

Wedding season is officially here. Someone you know is getting married, and you've been invited! With that honour comes many questions, including the eternal one: what should you give the couple? 

Etiquette specialist Julie Blais Comeau, founder of etiquettejulie.com and author of Quoi dire, comment faire et quand? offers some ideas. 

What to give
The time when couples needed a wedding trousseau are long gone. So where to go for inspiration? 
  • Online registry
If the couple has set up an online registry, you can check it to see what's on their wish list.
  • Friends and family
No registry? Why not subtly ask those who know the couple well, like parents, bridesmaids or groomsmen?
  • Your choice--lots of great ideas:
    • A nice bottle of wine for their new wine cellar
    • A contribution to their upcoming European cruise 
    • A gift certificate for a spa or restaurant 
    • Money (cheque or Interac e-transfer)
Tip: Don't give cash the day of the wedding. It can easily be lost or stolen! Let the couple fully enjoy their big day.

How much to give?
According to Comeau, there's no hard and fast rule on the value of the gift, but here are some thoughts on what influences it (or not):
  • Your relationship with the couple
You'll naturally want to give your best friend since kindergarten more than you would a new co-worker. That's perfectly normal--listen to your heart!
  • Your role 
Whether you're a member of the wedding party or just a guest, the value of the gift also varies depending on your role in the big day.

Tip: If you're a member of the wedding party, you can all pool your money to buy a bigger gift.
  • The venue
Whether the wedding happens at the Ritz Carleton or in a sugar shack, it should have no impact on your gift. You should simply give what you can afford. No one wants their guests to go into debt to attend their wedding.

Declining the invitation
And if it's too expensive to attend? "Some couples ask their guests to pay for their meal, or there may be very specific dress requirements for members of the wedding party. If you can't afford the cost to attend, simply decline. No need to explain why. 'Unfortunately, I'm unable to attend. I wish you all the happiness in the world!' Include a gift card. That way, your friendship--and your wallet!--remains intact."

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