Wedding Gift Etiquette: When Do You Open Gifts?

Everything you need to know about wedding-gift-opening etiquette

Updated 08/04/17

Sean Locke

Now that the big day is approaching, you've probably begun to receive some wedding presents in the mail. But when do you open wedding gifts that have arrived early? Can you use them? We've got the answers to these wedding gift etiquette questions. Find out what to do with the big white boxes from Crate&Barrel and bull's eye-bedecked packages from Target that are stacking up.

When Do You Open Wedding Gifts?

Not only is it totally fine to open wedding gifts before the big day, it's actually a good idea to do so. Opening the presents as soon as you receive them in the mail means you can get a head start on handwriting your thank-you notes, which usually becomes a daunting task for newlyweds post-wedding. For gifts sent before the wedding date, you should ideally send a thank-you note within a few days of a gift's arrival; thank-you notes are not only an expression of gratitude, they're also a way to confirm that 1) you received the gift and 2) it didn't get delivered incorrectly or stolen from your doorstep. Believe it or not, some friends and family can get a little anxious about whether their wedding gifts were received. So try to send a thank-you card within a few days of receiving the gift. But if that's simply not possible, mail the note within three months of receipt (and, no, you don't have a year to send your thank-yous; that's a total wedding myth!).

If you don't have time to write notes within a few days, you can also send an email or make a quick phone call to let senders know their gift was received and that you'll have a note in the mail soon. Especially if it's a more expensive present, they'll be happy to know it arrived in one piece.

Can You Use the Wedding Gifts Before the Wedding?

Technically, wedding gifts should not be used until after the wedding. If, for any reason, the wedding is called off, gifts should be returned to the giver, and you can't really give back that KitchenAid you've used three times already, can you? And some brides even consider it bad luck, since the gift is being sent in celebration of an event that hasn't happened yet.

But remember, this wedding-gift-opening etiquette rule comes from a time when couples didn't usually live together before they were married, so there wasn't a home for the gifts to be used in. Nowadays it's much more common for a couple to have a home set up together already, so if you've registered for new plates because your old ones are chipped, or you can't wait to step out of the shower and wrap yourself in those lush new towels, go for it! Your guests will be happy to know that your house is becoming more of a home thanks to their generosity.

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