Attending a loved one’s wedding is exciting! Prepping for the big day typically includes choosing the perfect gift for the happy couple. But what should you get them? And how much money should you spend? And one other thing — do you have to give a gift? Well, yes and no. Showering the bride and groom-to-be with a truckload of gifts is one of those time-old traditions that most people enjoy. But sometimes the rules can be relaxed depending on the circumstances. When it comes to wedding gift etiquette, things can get a little tricky, so here’s what to know when it comes to the question – to gift or not to gift?

wedding gift etiquette

Photo Courtesy of F10 Studio

First things first, do you have to get a gift?

Well, although giving a wedding gift is typically customary, you don’t have to do anything that you’re not totally comfortable with. There’s no wedding gift etiquette police, so it’s okay if you don’t pick out a gift. But be prepared that your lack of one will probably be noticed by the wedding couple.

What if you’re broke?

Sticking to a budget is important, and the bride and groom wouldn’t want you to overextend yourself financially for the sake of a gift. However, a wedding gift needn’t be a grand or expensive gesture. As the saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts.” So if you’re able to put some money aside and purchase something small yet meaningful — or even create something that you know they’ll love — then the couple will undoubtedly appreciate your efforts.

What if I’m not invited to the wedding?

If you know the bride and groom, but you’re not invited to the wedding, then you’re not expected to give them a gift. You can send a nice card or message, or you can give them a gift of your choosing. It’s really up to you!

What if I’m invited to the wedding, but RSVP “no”?

In this case, you’re not obligated to send a gift. However, it’s important to take your relationship with the couple into account. If you’re super close and just can’t make it on the date — but would’ve come if you were available — you’ll likely want to send a little something. On the other hand, if you’re not as close, then it’s perfectly acceptable to send a sweet message sans gift.

Do I have to give them a gift from their gift registry?

Yes, and no. Every couple has different needs, preferences, and wedding gift etiquette expectations, and most likely the bride and groom have taken careful consideration in determining what exactly they want when curating their gift registry. If you go rogue from the registry, you run the risk of buying them something that they already have. That being said, if you stumble upon a unique and/or personal gift that you know they will love, feel free to gift them with your amazing find.

Can I give them cash instead?

Yes! Giving money as a wedding gift is no longer a faux pas. In fact, many couples, in addition to their gift registry, also set up cash or honeymoon funds. So if you would prefer to allocate your money from the wedding gift budget to helping them have the most memorable honeymoon ever — and not send them a traditional gift — that’s another option you have.

Do I have to buy a shower and a wedding gift?

If you’re invited to both the shower and the wedding, then it’s customary to bring a gift for both celebrations.

When do I need to give them my gift?

If you’re not attending the wedding, you can send them your gift pretty much anytime. However, within a few weeks before or after the wedding is preferable (although some wedding etiquette experts say you have up to one year). The same goes for someone who’s attending the wedding. But, keep in mind that often a couple will have a table (or room) reserved for wedding gifts on their actual wedding day. So depending on what you’re gifting them, you might want to have your gift on hand on the big day.