Getting invited to the wedding of a friend or family member's second marriage is a joyous occasion. After all, someone close to you has found love again and wants to celebrate it with a lifelong commitment. While you should definitely have your presence felt and RSVP "yes" if you can make it, you might be wondering if you should also give the couple a gift as well. And, if you do give a gift, what it should be.
In the past, you wouldn't be required to give the couple a present. "Traditionally, for a second wedding you didn't ask for gifts, nor were guests obligated to get you a gift," shares Lizzie Post, co-president of the Emily Post Institute. "As times have moved on, we never want to be in a position of punishing people for getting married a second time. Your wedding should be as big and beautiful as you want it to be. But when it comes to gifts, it's a little bit more delicate. At the same time there is this kind of old tradition I think it's gonna get shed fairly soon over the next few years."
Ahead, Post breaks down how tradition has changed for the modern era, and provides advice on what gifts you can give for your loved one's second wedding.
Meet the Expert
Lizzie Post is the author of Higher Etiquette, and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette 19th edition. She is also the co-president of the Emily Post Institute.
Should Guests Give a Gift?
While there is still a fine line, Post says that you should probably give a gift for a second wedding today. "These unions are important and whether it was because of a divorce or whether it was because of tragedy, it is important to celebrate these moments," she says. "I feel like we're crossing into territory of saying that guests just don't have to go with the biggest gift."
Couples, however, should not expect to receive a gift from every single guest. She shares, "There may be some folks who operate in that traditional category of 'I got you something for your first wedding, I'm not going to worry about getting you something for the second,' or 'I'm gonna get you a card.'"
Can Couples Create a Registry?
While it may have been different in the past, Post says it is fine for people getting married for a second time to create a registry today. "We don't typically set registries up for second marriages, but I find them incredibly useful. It's not a bad idea to have a wish list," she adds. "At this point, we're all just cool with it. It makes things easier, and it doesn't come across as asking for gifts."
However, whether it's for a first marriage or a fifth, all couples should never put that information on an invitation. Instead, they should refer guests to a wedding website where that information may be listed. "Part of all of this is sort of to avoid creating the obligation for guests," she says.
However, she notes that for a second marriage, couples might want to shy away from including the registry on the website. "Rather than posting the registry publicly, have it be something that's distributed via word of mouth. Or, if a guest asks, then you can email them the link to the registry. That might be a way of walking in between the traditional and the new," she explains.
Want to have a honeymoon or house fund for your second marriage registry? Post says to have a gut check before creating one. "I don't want to say no or 100-percent yes to it," she shares. "I think if it fits your world and won't be received badly or cause people to feel uncomfortable, it's a good idea."
What Gifts Should Guests Choose?
When it comes to actually buying the gifts, Post suggests choosing something on the registry, going with a more traditional wedding gift, or finding something the couple would truly appreciate. She does share that the gift doesn't have to be as expensive as you might give for a first marriage though.
Don't have a registry to work with? "If there isn't something to go off of, I think things like a beautiful set of candlesticks with candles to go in them, champagne glasses, or a beautiful vase engraved with wedding day are great," suggests Post. "My favorite is a beautiful picture frame that can be engraved with the date of their wedding. I have gotten more compliments on that gift over my lifetime than any other I've ever given. You don't have to go with the engraving, but it's a nice touch when you can or if you think a couple would really appreciate it."
Post also says you can give something more personal if there is no registry. "My friend and her husband are really big rock climbers and I think that if I if I had sent them some cables and karabiners as a wedding gift, they would have been thrilled," she says. "You really want to think about the couple and what they're into and what you know of their style. If you don't know, you can always ask. It really is okay for you to reach out to the hosts of a wedding. If it's a couple themselves, you might call them and say, 'I'm really looking to do something special for you guys. Do you have any directions you could point me in?' That's when they might choose to share a little list or they might let you know of a particular store, hobby, or theme that would fit."