Rant and Rave: Wedding gift etiquette

Summer months signal longer days, sangria on the patio, cute sundresses and weddings. It seems that each time we check our mail box a new wedding invite arrives. With each new invitation we wonder, “what is proper gifting etiquette and how much should we spend?”
Weddings can be pricey for everyone involved – including guests. Image source
Gifting amounts can be tricky and you can’t exactly ask the bride-to-be what gift value isn’t going to make her tell the tale of the cheap guest for years to come. Here are some tips for you to follow to get you through wedding season without sign of the fail whale. 
If you’re attending an out of town wedding:
Your best friend is getting married…in Jamaica. Often when guests are asked to travel long distances, their presence is requested in lieu of gifts. That being said, we recommend giving a more modest gift off the registry or a cash gift totaling $50 -100 a head (depending on what you can afford). 
 Destination weddings are beautiful, but are a big ask for guests. Image source.
If you’re a bridesmaid in the wedding:
Being in the wedding party is a huge honor, but also a larger financial responsibility. In addition to purchasing your bridesmaid dress, throwing a bachelorette party and giving a present for the bridal shower(s), you’re expected to purchase a gift for the new couple. This is where things get tricky – you’re obviously close to the couple, or are a future in-law, so you’d probably like to get them something nice. But how much is too much to spend? We recommend purchasing a gift off the registry or cash gift totaling $100-150 per head.   
 Why do groomsmen get off the hook for paying for wedding events? Image source.
Attending a wedding that’s a cash bar:
In an effort to reduce expenses, and because couples are frequently footing the bill for their weddings in more recent times, some are opting for a cash bar at the wedding reception. Because guests have to purchase their own cocktails we recommend purchasing a gift off the registry or a giving a cash gift between $50-75 per head.
Side note: if you’re hosting a cash bar:
Be sure to let your guests know prior to the big day. This information should be spread by word of mouth, similar to how registry information spreads. Also, providing guests with a few drink tickets and wine throughout dinner is a nice way to ease the pain of the dreaded cash bar. 
Other tips to remember:
Don’t bring cumbersome gifts to the wedding. Deliver them to the couple prior, or post, wedding. Most major retailers with registry programs will also let the couple pick up their gifts at the store after the wedding.

Registry at The Bay? They’ll let you purchase and ask the couple to pick up the gift later. 

Wedding presents should be gifted no longer than six months to a year after the wedding date. Mixed opinions about the exact timing, but no later than the couple’s first anniversary, or else it’s just a bit awkward.
Stick to the registry, unless you’re very close to the couple and have a wonderful idea for a personal gift. If you choose to take this risk, include a gift receipt – people are very picky about items they hope to have for years and years to come. Yes, they really do want that brand-new alarm clock.

Broke? Give the gift of amazing music by DJing the wedding! Image source.
If you can’t afford a wedding present, offer your services. Are you an expert photographer or a great DJ? Offer this as a substitute gift to the couple a few months in advance of the wedding. 
If you’re bringing a date to the wedding, make sure you calculate this into the cost of the wedding gift. Typically a present should cover the cost of each plate (approximately $100). 
 Is this vase worth $7,500? Kim Kardashian thinks so. 

In the end, someone has invited you to their wedding because they want you to be there to celebrate with them. If you’re under extreme financial stress, no bride and groom wants you to give a gift that you can’t afford. Be happy, supportive and invite them over for a delicious dinner after the big event to show that you care, even if you can’t get them that $7,500 Baccarat vase they desperately need.

Ed. note: Happy weddings to our two upcoming summer brides on the fourth floor, Christina Walters and Abigail Van Den Broek.