1. I’d like to give a gift of cash rather than choose off the wedding list, how much is good to give?
It may be an obvious answer but it really does depend. Try working it out using a loose equation based on your relationship to the couple and whether you’re going for the whole day or evening only. If it’s your best friend’s wedding you’re probably going to want to spend more money than you would on one of your partner’s distant relatives. A generous yet affordable amount for a good friend is between £100-£150; obviously if you feel you want to give more I’m sure the couple won’t refuse! If you’re giving to a couple that you are less well acquainted with then a good guideline amount would be £30-50, not too much that it will make you resent only being invited to the evening, but enough to prevent you from looking miserly.
2. Should I take the gift to the reception?
If the couple have opted for a traditional gift list, then it is often the case that they request your gift to be delivered to the return address on their invitation or to an address listed on the registry. However, some people will choose to take their gift to the reception regardless. It’s sometimes more helpful for the couple not to have a table full of gifts to take home after their special day, but equally, some guests don’t feel comfortable turning up empty handed. If you do opt to take your gift to the reception make sure you secure your card to the present. You don’t want someone else taking credit for your gift, or risk waiting hopelessly for a thank you card that will never arrive.
3. I’ve got a great idea for a wedding gift, but the couple already have a wedding list, is it ok to buy something that’s not on the list?
As a rule of thumb – yes – sometimes the best gifts on the wedding list can be snapped up quickly, leaving you with the less than desirable option of a cutlery set or one glass from a set of 6. If you can think of something that you know the couple will appreciate and keep forever then go for it. Also, try to judge it on how well you know the couple – again, if they are your best friends and you buy them a surprise weekend away together, or something more quirky like the back catalogue of their favourite band, you can be pretty sure they’ll love it. For those couples you know less well the gift list can usually be a blessing in disguise.
4. I’m going to my friend’s second wedding, but I bought a rather generous gift for him and his first wife. I don’t really want to spend as much the second time around, what do you suggest?
Often people getting married for the second time specifically state ‘no gifts’ for exactly this reason, or sometimes they’ll offer the option of making a donation to their favourite charity, however some may still choose to have a list. Remember it may be the second wedding for one of the couple, but the first wedding for the other half. In this situation it’s advisable to consider treating it as a first wedding. If it’s second time around for both of them then the couple will probably understand that guests won’t want to spend as much, but you should still take a gift. Consider spending half of what you spent the first time round, they may not even expect anything at all.
5. I’m invited to the wedding reception but not the wedding ceremony, should I buy a gift?
Yes. Not buying a gift for the reception could look like a reaction to the lack of an all-day invite. Plus, you get to go to the best part – the party – so there’s really no excuse not to buy a gift. If you were expecting an invite to the ceremony and only got asked to the reception you could always scale down your spend with a smaller gift.
6. I’m going to a small wedding where the couple haven’t registered a gift list, but I’d like to buy them something anyway, what do you suggest?
If they haven’t registered a gift list it’s probably because they don’t need or want anything. So if you’d still really like to buy them something try and opt for something a bit more unusual, perhaps an experience, or get creative and make them something. Alternatively small tokens will be equally well received, a candle, a photo frame, or a few bottles of good wine.
7. The couple have asked for money, but I really don’t want to give cash, is it rude to buy them a gift instead?
No. It’s generally considered more discourteous for the couple to ask for cash – especially if this is done formally in the invitation. For this reason, if you don’t wish to give cash but would still like to give a present then it’s more than acceptable to buy them a gift instead. Saying this, use your judgement based on your relationship. If they’ve asked for money, it’s likely that they’ve got everything or are saving up for something big. If you buy them something, you’re ignoring their wishes and perhaps the gift won’t be received in the vain that it is given. If you’d rather not disclose how much you are giving, or are worried it is too little try buddying up with a group of fellow guests and giving a joint sum.
8. I’ve been invited to the wedding of one of my partner’s friends and I really don’t know the couple too well and have no idea about their taste. My partner is useless and has no ideas, what should I do?
Although many people have specific tastes it’s probably best to avoid trying to match a gift to their tastes at all. Don’t try and buy them a piece of art for their home if you’re not completely certain on what they like. Instead opt for something classic and timeless and you really can’t go wrong. Personalised items such as towels or robes will always be a gift well received, as will simple china or glassware.
9. I’m going abroad for a wedding and having already spent money on flights and accommodation I don’t really want to blow the bank with an extravagant gift. Do you have any suggestions?
This is a prime opportunity to combine funds with a group of friends, as I imagine you’ll all be in a similar situation, and opt to buy something together. Find out what big-ticket item the couple might like and arrange to have it delivered when they return from their honeymoon - more affordable and less luggage needed for everyone involved.
10. I’m going to my first friends’ wedding soon, and have no idea what to buy. Does a wedding gift have to be for the home?
Traditionally people have bought newlyweds items for the home as a way of setting them up for their lives together. But as many people have already lived with each other prior to getting married, nowadays gift lists are becoming increasingly creative. Have a think about the couple, do they live together already? Is there anything they could they do with? You could always buy them something completely different – are they a techie couple? Maybe monogrammed iPad cases? Or if they’re interiors fans, why not get them a selection of coffee table design books? Think outside the box.