We get it: Wedding gifting is complicated. From feeling guilt about setting up a registry to figuring out whether you need to bring gifts to every single party, there are all sorts of questions to answer, for both the happy couple and their guests. As a wedding guest, deciding how much to spend, what to get, and how (and when!) to give it to the couple can be confusing, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you figure it out.
When should we purchase a wedding gift?
There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to the timing of a wedding gift. The first is for a guest who wants options: Buy early! If you want to have your pick of registry items, head to the couple’s wedding Web site as soon as you know the URL and navigate to their registry page. Shopping early means you’ll be able to find a gift that fits your budget (and might even have special meaning between you and your friend) instead of a last-minute hodgepodge of small items that others didn’t want to purchase.
The next option is to time your gift to have it received closer to the wedding date. If you know, for example, that the couple is buying a home or moving shortly before their wedding, this is also a good idea—better to have the gift delivered to their new address instead of creating another box for them to pack! If the wedding is local, this timing is also the most popular, since invitations are sent about eight weeks before the wedding (instead of the 12-plus weeks for a destination wedding).
The final option is to get a gift after the wedding is over. Contrary to popular belief, guests don’t actually have a full year after the wedding date to purchase gifts—instead, try to get that gift in the mail within three months of the I do’s.
How should the gift be delivered?
The easiest way to deliver a wedding gift? Let the registry site take care of it! The couple will have provided the best mailing address (and may even place a hold on the gifts until after they’ve moved, for example), so simply click “purchase” and let the site take care of the rest.
If you’re buying a gift off-registry, arrange to have it shipped to the address of the couple’s choice, whether through the store where you’ve purchased the gift or by taking it to the post office yourself. The last thing you want to do is lug a blender or a set of plates to the wedding in your carry-on! Plus, actually bringing a gift to the wedding means the couple will have to figure out how to store it and get it home—a task that might end up falling on their parents if they’re planning to head on their honeymoon right away. Sending the gift directly to the couple will also avoid the possibility of anything being lost during the wedding!
What about a couple that asks for cash?
Giving cash or a check instead of a physical gift? This is the trickiest option. Your inclination might be to bring the money with you and give it straight to the newlyweds, but envelopes are easy to misplace, meaning your funds could easily disappear. Instead, mail a check directly to the couple at their home (tucked inside a greeting card so it’s less conspicuous in the mail). You could also check the couple’s wedding Web site to see if they have set up a way for you to give a cash gift via their registry. Look for a honeymoon or home improvement fund, as well, since you’ll be able to personalize exactly how much you want to give.