Bridal Shower Gift Etiquette: Should I Send a Gift if I Can't Attend?

Do you HAVE to send a bridal shower gift if you won't be there?

Updated 09/17/17

Amanda Worrall/Stocksy

Traditional etiquette states that if you receive an invitation to a wedding (even if you can’t make it!), you should send the couple a wedding gift. But a wedding isn’t the only celebration you’ll be invited to. So does the same rule apply to other pre-wedding events where gifts are expected—do you have to send a bridal shower gift if not attending? We asked our experts to help you figure it out.

Unlike a wedding invitation, receiving an invitation to a bridal shower does not mean you have to send a gift even if you can’t attend. So, if your best friend’s shower is on the same weekend as your cousin’s wedding, or it’s just too far for you to attend the shower and the wedding, you’re not expected to get the bride a gift. Of course, the guest list for a bridal shower is usually pretty exclusive: Only family members and close friends make the cut, meaning you might want to send a little something anyway to mark the occasion.

If you want to participate from afar, send your gift to the hostess or another guest in advance of the event. That way, it can be added to the gift table and opened along with the other presents toward the end of the shower. Be sure to include a card letting the bride know you wish you could be there! If the bride won’t be opening gifts during the shower, arrange for your gift to arrive in the days leading up to or immediately following the event, and send it directly to the bride.

Not sure what to get? The most common bridal shower gifts are for the kitchen, from small appliances or utensils to towels or dishes. Some brides will set up a registry specifically for the event, while others will include those items on their main registry. Check with the hostess to see where you should be shopping!

These days, many bridal showers have themes—and gifts to match. A cooking class shower might require a gift of your favorite cookbook, while the hostesses of a lingerie shower will ask for, well, lingerie, and a spa shower is the time to shower the bride with bath products or a lush robe. Pay attention to the event’s theme, and if you will want the bride to open your gift during her shower, make sure yours fits right in. (Of course, if you are sending the gift directly to the bride and don’t want it opened at the shower, you can gift the bride whatever you feel is appropriate.)

And remember, everyone loves a beautiful bouquet or a nice bottle of their favorite wine, champagne, or liquor. Arrange for a delivery on the day of, or have one of the attendees coordinate with you to pick up a package or sign for a delivery. Make sure to send a sweet, personalized card alongside your gift, and perhaps add in a nice vase or a bespoke bottle opener for an extra touch of class.

Another sweet way to participate from afar is to ask the hostess to include you in any activities they might be having. Is she putting together a video of well-wishes from guests? Make sure your clip is included! Or will she be collecting favorite recipes or marriage advice from all the attendees? Send yours along. Any collective group gifts or projects where you can add a little something extra will make sure the bride knows you have her in your thoughts.

Want to share wedding planning tips with other brides-to-be around the world? Join our Facebook group!

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