Gift-Giving 101: A Complete Guide On Giving The Perfect Wedding Present

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Summer is here, which means wedding season is in full effect. Each time you accept a wedding invitation, you’re faced with the same challenging task: what gift should you bring? Having to pick one out can be stressful, but there are a couple of unwritten rules you can follow to make the experience a whole lot easier for yourself.

This is going to sound bad, but as lovely as sentimental gifts are, they should be given in addition to some sort of monetary or purchased gift. The couple to be wed will likely appreciate whatever you end up giving them, but they’ll be even more grateful to get something that they can use to start their new lives together. Here are five wedding gift rules every guest can follow:

#1 Always buy from the registry

Almost 90 percent of couples create a wedding registry. The whole point of a wedding registry is to make it easier for the guests to find gifts for the couple. Use this to your advantage. On average, the couple will pick 125 items to include in the registry, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. The best part? If it’s on the registry, you can be absolutely sure it’s something the couple will want.

Usually, if there is a wedding registry, it will be listed on the couple’s wedding website or invitation. In some cases, couples may opt for a cash registry instead of a wedding registry, in which case you would contribute a cash gift instead. In either case, you really can’t lose—if you just get them what they want, you’ll be in the clear.

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#2 Traditional gifts aren’t boring

You really don’t need to be too creative with your wedding gift. In fact, the couple might even appreciate traditional gifts more than unique ones. They’re looking for the usual stuff—kitchen appliances, dinner sets, beddings, towels—they don’t need that abstract stone water fountain that has absolutely no use to them.

They need things that can help them get started with their new lives after the wedding is over and done with. So don’t be afraid to head to Bed, Bath and Beyond—get them a nice knife set or some high-thread-count bedsheets. Remember: as long as it’s useful, they’ll love it (even if it’s not on their registry!)

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#3 Open your wallet wider than usual

The price-per-plate rule isn’t necessarily the best thing to follow when buying a wedding gift. For birthdays, sure, but weddings are often fancier affairs. Couples tend to go all out in order to give their guests a good time, so it’s always good practice to reciprocate that gesture. If there is any baseline number, it’s $50— always make sure to spend more than that!

The amount you spend will also depend on your relationship with the couple to be wed. Are you a close family friend or relative? Are you a coworker or just a distant connection? Generally speaking, the closer you are to the couple, the more you should dish out. When it comes to wedding gifts, there’s no such thing as too much!

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#4 Join in on a group gift

You may be discouraged to join in on a group gift because they may seem less personal, but they actually go a long way. In fact, by pooling your money together, you might be able to get them something really extravagant; something that the couple wouldn’t be able to afford on their own. That said, a group gift is a particularly good option for small groups, like coworkers. Conversely, group gifts should be avoided if the group participating is too large (5+ people may already be pushing it).

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#5 Send it ASAP

The unwritten rule is that you should be getting your gift to the couple within one year, max. However, it’s always better to send your gift as soon as possible. Getting a gift long after the fact is never ideal, especially for a couple that is just starting their lives together. Nowadays, we have conveniences like online shopping and two-day shipping, so there really isn’t any reason to delay sending your wedding gift. Aim to send the gift within two months after the wedding, and ship it straight to their door so that you eliminate the hassle.

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