Whether you're planning a wedding, or attending one, gift-giving plays an 
important role in the "big day."

Here are some guidelines to help answer some questions on this part of the 
wedding process. 

Tips for the Wedding Guest 
Tips for the Wedding Couple 
FOR THE WEDDING GUEST

So you've been invited to a wedding? Are you wondering what to do about the 
somewhat obligatory gift? Most brides and grooms have registered their gift 
wish list with a local department or specialty store. Does this mean you must 
select from this list? Not necessarily. While it is nice to help the couple 
complete their flatware selection or informal place settings, remember that a 
unique gift can be just as welcomed. With the convenience of shopping online, 
you can now purchase, gift wrap, enclose a personalized gift card and ship a 
gift to the couple without leaving your home or office.

Some things to keep in mind:

Do not take a gift to the reception. You cannot be guaranteed that the bride 
and groom will ever see the gift, as there is generally no security at the 
reception (with the possible exception being if the reception is at the home 
of the couple or a family member). Gifts can easily be damaged or misplaced. 
Remember, the last thing on the couple's mind that night will be gathering up 
gifts. It could easily be left behind. Send the gift to the address on the 
registry or the RSVP address on the wedding invitation. 

Etiquette says that it is a nice gesture to send a gift whether or not you 
plan on attending. 

FOR THE COUPLE:

Planning a wedding can be a very time-consuming process. If you're like most 
couples today, you both work full-time, leaving little time during the week 
to complete the many details. Fortunately, with the explosion of the Web, many 
excellent resources are now available online to help you to plan your big day. 
You can gather ideas for your ceremony and reception, locate local vendors, 
read tips from those who have been there, register your gift wish list, and 
purchase gifts for your wedding party. Giving a token of appreciation to 
bridesmaids, ushers, groomsmen, and others who have taken a role in the 
wedding planning process has long been a custom. Afterall, these individuals 
are generally close friends or family members who have given of their time to 
help make your day special. And taking part in a wedding generally comes with 
financial responsibilities with the purchase or rental of wedding attire, 
throwing bridal showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties, and travel 
expenses. Giving gifts to members of the wedding party is left to the 
discretion of each couple. There are no set standards on the cost of the gift, 
nor do all gifts have to be the same. Below are some guidelines to help you 
decide what is most appropriate for your situation. 


WHO SHOULD RECEIVE A GIFT?

The Bride and Groom - One of the oldest wedding-gift traditions is the 
exchange of gifts between the bride and the groom. While this custom is 
followed by many couples, it is not mandatory. But why not give each other 
something that reflects your commitment? It's best to find something that is 
lasting, and if appropriate, engrave it with each of your initials and your 
wedding date. Ideas: A picture frame, a poem, an elegant desk clock, a 
collectible, jewelry.

Parents - One of the more recent customs is to give a gift to your parents as 
a token of appreciation for all they have done in raising you - and to 
symbolize your continued ties even though you are now starting your own 
family. Ideas: A nicely framed photo from the wedding, a letter expressing 
your gratitude, an engravable bowl.

Maid of Honor/Bridesmaids - These are the women who will be helping you with 
the wedding planning and the actual day. They'll throw showers/parties for 
you, take you out to lunch to relax, pick up your dress from the seamstress, 
etc. They'll also most likely be the ones to buy those dresses and dyed shoes 
that they'll wear only once. So it is nice to thank them with a small memento. 
The Maid of Honor generally receives a gift of greater value, but this is not 
mandatory. Ideas: Bud vases, photo frames or albums, bath oils, crystal bowls, 
gift baskets, Limoges boxes or other collectibles, key chains, clocks, some 
part of their wedding attire (hair clips, jewelry).

Best Man/Groomsmen/Ushers - These are the guys who will throw the bachelor 
party, help you with your tuxedo, help with honeymoon arrangements, walk 
family and friends to their seats during the ceremony, etc. They may travel a 
long distance to make the wedding, and will most likely rent their tuxedo to 
match the rest of the wedding party. It is therefore a nice gesture to thank 
them with a small gift. The Best Man generally receives a gift of greater 
value, but this is not mandatory. Ideas: Desk clocks, business card holders, 
photo frames, key chains, pocket watches, Swiss Army products, high quality 
pens/pen sets.

Flowergirl(s)/Ring Bearer(s) - These children add a sweet touch to your wedding 
ceremony and they are thrilled to be a part of such a grand event. While they 
generally do not play a large part in the planning aspects of the wedding, 
they do often spend a lot of time practicing for their "big and important role" 
in your wedding. It is generally customary to give them a small token of 
appreciation to commemorate their role in your wedding day. Ideas: A framed 
photo of him/her with you on your wedding day, a small collectible (figurine, 
box, bowl, etc.), a small item of jewelry, a stuffed animal, a hair clip.

Anyone who plays a special part in your wedding - Do you have a special uncle 
who walked you down the aisle, or a friend who sang a solo during your 
ceremony? Anyone who does something that you find especially touching should 
receive a token of appreciation. Ideas: A note expressing your appreciation or 
a framed photo from the wedding


SIZE OF THE WEDDING PARTY

If you will be having a large wedding party, it is oftentimes a better idea 
to choose two gifts - one for the males and one for the females - and buy them 
in bulk. This helps keep costs down (large weddings can be expensive!) and 
helps save time. Clocks, pens, key rings and photo frames all make elegant 
statements and can be easily personalized with engraving.

For smaller wedding parties, you may opt to select more personalized gifts for 
each member of the wedding. Tickets to a local sporting event are great for 
the sports fan, while a bottle of a good vintage wine would be more appropriate 
for the wine connoisseur. Generally these people will have played very active 
roles in your wedding planning, since they number fewer than in a larger 
wedding party. Why not recognize their roles with individualized gifts?


COST OF GIFTS

Couples on a budget need not worry about breaking the bank when purchasing 
gifts for their wedding party. The cost of the gifts is dictated by what the 
couple can afford. The adage "It's the thought that counts" holds true here. A 
little creativity and thoughtfulness can go a long way. Write a poem that 
expresses how you feel about the individual. Do they like outdoor events? 
Offer to take them camping - drive and bring the food. Other ideas include 
creative gift baskets, small vases, clocks, and spa items (bath oils, soaps, 
etc.). Whatever you chose to do, all gifts for bridesmaids should be of equal 
value, all gifts for groomsmen should be of equal value, etc., whenever 
possible.

PRESENTATION OF THE GIFTS

Presentation of a gift is almost as important as the gift itself. First, be 
sure to enclose a short, personalized note thanking the individual for the 
important role he or she played in your wedding and mention any details that 
you especially appreciated. Second, be sure to elegantly wrap the gift. Nice 
paper, bows, and tissue paper help to make a nice gift even more charming. 
Some couples opt to incorporate the wedding colors into the gift wrap, tissues 
and bows.

When should you give your wedding party their gifts? Generally, couples prefer 
to present the gifts at the rehearsal dinner because of the intimate setting 
with your family and closest friends. Other appropriate times include a small 
gathering or party for your wedding party the week before the wedding, or in a 
private setting where you can express your gratitude to each participant 
individually.
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