You've been invited to both a bridal shower and a wedding—congrats! It's always nice to know that friends or family members want you to participate in their special celebration and the events leading up to the big day. But one question guests are often faced with is whether you must purchase both a gift for the bridal shower and a gift for the wedding day.
If you're unsure about the proper etiquette around gift-giving during big wedding events, fear not. We ask an industry expert and etiquette extraordinaire all about the difference between bridal shower gifting and wedding gifts—and whether or not both are necessary for guests invited to both of these events.
Meet the Expert
Diane Gottsman is an etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas in San Antonio, Texas.
Should I bring a gift to both the bridal shower and the wedding?
The short answer here is: Yes. Technically, these are two separate events, and traditionally, it is proper etiquette for guests to show up to the bridal shower with a gift, and also purchase a gift for the wedding (this is typically done via a wedding registry, but it's also fine to bring a present in-person to the wedding).
"Since these are two separate occasions, and often the registry for both is different, sending or bringing a gift to each is appropriate," explains etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas. "It's best to send the wedding gift ahead of time so you don’t have to carry it to the wedding," she notes.
What if I can't afford to bring a gift to both events?
We're no stranger to the fact that being a wedding guest can get very pricey, very fast. Between gifts, buying or renting an outfit, attending pre-wedding events, and travel/accommodation costs, being a wedding guest is expensive—especially when you have multiple weddings a year. If you're feeling like you can't swing purchasing both a bridal shower gift and a wedding shower gift, it's most likely that the marrying couple will understand—your presence is the real present!
If you do find yourself in this situation and want to give the couple a gift for both events, Gottsman recommends dividing your gift budget in half and splitting it between two smaller presents. "It’s all about how you spend your dollars on the gift," she explains. "If you are invited to a shower, it would probably be uncomfortable to show up without a gift, and the same for the wedding," she says. "However, spending a much smaller amount [each gift] and making them sentimental and meaningful—not expensive—is the key."
Should I send a gift to the couple if I can't attend the shower or the wedding?
If you're unable to attend the shower or the wedding (don't forget to RSVP on time!), Gotssman advises that whether or not to still send a gift is a bit nuanced. "It depends on the relationship you share," she says. "If you aren’t a good friend or family member, and you aren’t planning on attending either one (or only attending one), you can just bring a gift to the particular celebration you attend," she explains. "If you are a very close family member or friend, you can decide how you will feel the next time you see [the couple]." By this, she means if you think you'll be stressed about whether they'd notice that you didn't send a gift in lieu of your attendance, you should send one. However, if you think the couple simply won't mind either way, then it's fine to pass on the gift.
If you're not that close with the marrying couple (colleagues, newer friends, etc.) keep in mind that sending a congratulatory card in lieu of a gift is a nice idea. Kind words go a long way!