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Etiquette 101: Gifts and Gift Registries

081814-weddinggift-02Your wedding guests are going to bring you gifts – whether you want them to or not. Wedding gifts are tradition, and they’re a physical representation of your guests’ love and support for you.

Got questions about gifts and gift registries? We consulted the experts at The Emily Post Institute for answers to the most common etiquette questions when it comes to gifts.

Should I register?

The answer to this question is always yes. It’s yes if this is an encore wedding, it’s yes even if you don’t want gifts.

Consider what you need and want, and then get yourself to a store (or website) to register for gifts. Register for household items and things you need for shared hobbies and interests. Register for gifts at a variety of price points and make sure you register at at least one chain store or website so guests can shop from your registry no matter where they are.

If you want money toward your honeymoon or a new house, there are registry programs online that can help you with that. If you want money for charity, you’ll find programs for that, too.

How do I spread the word about my registry?

You don’t. Give the information about your registry to your parents and bridal party or any close friends who might end up fielding questions from guests. It’s unseemly for the couple to tell guests about their registry – even in invitations. Let the word get out by word of mouth.

Also, don’t insist that guests shop off your registry. Older guests may prefer to give a traditional gift – like a blender – rather than something nontraditional like a tent or a contribution toward your new home. Accept it graciously.

Do I have to send thank you cards for every gift?

Yes. Whether it’s an engagement gift, a shower gift, or a wedding gift, you must send a thank you card. The best method is to send the card as soon as you receive the gift, but common etiquette gives you until three months after your wedding to get the thank you cards out.

Emily Post recommends developing a system for keeping track of gifts so you know who sent what and whether a thank you card was sent. How you do this is up to you – on a spreadsheet, on paper – do whatever you will keep up with.

Thank you cards don’t have to be long or elaborate, but etiquette does dictate that they be handwritten and that you reference the gift given.

Who should I give gifts to at my wedding?

You’re not the only one receiving gifts at your wedding; there are a few you should be giving, too. It’s standard for brides and grooms to give the bridesmaids and groomsmen some token of thanks. What you give and how much you spend is up to you, but common gifts include jewelry, cufflinks, or other personal items like wallets, money clips, jewelry boxes, or personalized frames. And, yes, it’s OK to spend a little more on the maid/matron of honor and best man.

It’s not required, but it’s also nice to give something to your parents. It doesn’t have to be huge; some thoughtful gifts include a monogrammed handkerchief, a handwritten note, or a rose given to them during the ceremony.