I’m sure there are etiquette websites that delve into this question. But being that Emily Post has been dead since 1960, and as far as I’m concerned, no one has taken her place, this leaves me with a dilemma. What’s the secret formula for choosing a wedding gift?
Mr. Groovy and I are in our 50s. It’s not like we’re invited to weddings every single year. For those of you in your 20s, I really feel for you because the whole wedding thing has gotten out of hand. And heaven forbid you’re in the wedding party and the bride and groom have chosen a destination wedding. I’m all for supporting love, but just how far should you go?
Mr. Groovy and I have developed our own rule of thumb, but we have no clue if it’s the norm. For close friends and non-immediate family, we write a check for $400. For nieces and nephews, we’ve been giving $1,000. I know many of you may think $1,000 is way too high. But since we have no children of our own, it makes us happy to give a nice chunk of change to our nieces and nephews when they can use it most. And on a more selfish note, we hope one of them will step up to help with our affairs when we’re old and feeble. A little bribery is not beneath us.
But I find myself totally confused about the proper response to announcements and invitations. First there’s the engagement announcement. Then comes the bridal shower invitation. And, finally, the wedding invitation. What if there’s no engagement party to attend? Are you still supposed to send an engagement gift? What if you have no plans to go to the wedding? What if you live out of town? What if you live out of town and plan to travel for the wedding, but you also receive an invitation to the shower and have no intention of making two trips? Are you expected to send a gift for the shower too?
And what kind of etiquette should the friends or family of the bride throwing the pre-wedding festivities follow? Should they check in with someone who lives out of town before mailing out a party invitation? Should they refrain from sending an invitation if they learn the guest is unable to attend?
My brother and his wife receive many more wedding invitations than Mr. Groovy and I do. They have a close community of friends with children the same age as theirs, who include them in life’s celebrations. When I ask my brother, “What are you supposed to give as a wedding gift?” he says he has absolutely no clue. Like us, he and his wife have established some guidelines. But no one seems to know what is correct. Or what is even expected.
A popular guideline used to be for a wedding attendee to cover his or her own expense. So if the venue cost $100 a person, you’d give at least that. Is that still a rule of thumb?
What about actual gifts? You know—presents, not cash. Is giving a personal, meaningful item considered cheap or tacky these days?
So tell me—have you figured this out? What do you give when a friend or family member gets married? Does anyone still believe, “It’s the thought that count’s”? Or is that just plain naïve?
I’d like to hear your opinion.
***And if you’ve figured out the secret formula for what to wear to a wedding, please share that too. Is black OK? Would white be upstaging the bride? Can a man get away with wearing just a sport jacket? Any fashionistas out there?