One of the most-quoted (and most misquoted) pieces of wedding etiquette is about how long you have to send a wedding gift. The rumor is that guests have up to a year after the wedding to send a gift. But common practice says otherwise, with most etiquette experts and planners alike saying that three months is the more appropriate window. That's a nine-month difference, so what is it? Our experts weigh in.
If you send a wedding gift a year after the couple walks down the aisle, is it a wedding gift at all? At that point, it's much more of a housewarming/anniversary/just because gift — even if the card says "Congratulations on your marriage!". Think about it: If you got a birthday gift a year late, you'd consider it a gift for your next birthday, not the last one, no matter if the sender apologizes for it being so late.
With that in mind, of course there's no expectation that all wedding gifts will arrive on the day of the wedding. Some will come weeks (or months) in advance, some will be brought to the reception, and others will trickle in over the following weeks. In each of those scenarios, the gift can very acceptably be considered a wedding gift because the couple has their wedding on their mind. If you fall into the last camp, sending a gift after you've danced the night away and had a good luck slice of wedding cake, aim to send the gift three months or less after the big day. Not only will this make it extra clear that your gift is in honor of their wedding, it will more readily enable the newlyweds to promptly send you a thank you card — and even include a little snippet or memory from their wedding to boot.
Of course, if the gift you're sending is time-sensitive (say, this year's vintage of their favorite wine that isn't released until the fall, or tickets to see their favorite band when you're still waiting on tour dates), you have a little more flexibility. Send a card letting them know about the upcoming gift to they know to keep an eye out for it.