Wedding season means gifts, but thinking of all the gifts you’ll need to buy– not to mention the cost of a plane ticket for destination weddings– is just about enough to make you politely decline the invite.
But don’t. At least not yet.
Etiquette maintains that each event (engagement party, bachelorette party, bridal shower, and wedding) requires a gift, but multiply that by just three friends and you’ve broken the bank, and any hopes for a get-away this summer. We know weddings are expensive, but they also shouldn’t be about the money. Here are some great ideas for gals for whom over-the-top-gifts aren’t possible.
Engagement Party: The kick-off event! A bottle of wine, champagne, or whiskey is more than enough. If it’s in the budget, throw all three in a basket with instructions for each: For a romantic night in (wine), for a celebratory night out (champagne), for a late night with friends (whiskey).
If you know the happy couple is (for example) less liquor minded, and more coffee obsessed, vintage silver plated spoons, hand stamped with “her coffee” and “her coffee” are a unique, fun, and relatively inexpensive gift for a newly engaged couple. Available on Etsy at Milk and Honey Luxuries.
Bachelorette Party: Here’s where you can get creative. A lot of ladies go the lingerie and beyond route, but how about a poker set? You can play cards with your girlfriends, giggle until 4am, and then the bride-to-be can take the set home to hubby, who will certainly appreciate the chips, because half of marriage knowing when to hold ’em, and knowing when to fold ’em.
Bridal Shower: Getting her a bathing suit for the honeymoon (assuming the couple is headed on one with a pool or ocean somewhere nearby), is an easy bet. Bathing suits can run the gamut price wise, but with all of the online deal sites (Gilt, HauteLook, MyHabit, etc) you can find a great piece for half the price.
Also great: a two person tent, although this isn’t a small expense. If you can rally a few of your girlfriends to go in together it would make the cost more manageable. Or, if you like the camping theme, but can’t get anyone to pitch in– pick her up a sturdy Stanley Thermos. In its handsome hammertone green, Stanley is celebrating its 100 year anniversary, is built strong, and made to last. Metaphor for marriage? We think yes. [Ed. note: my parents are still married (35 years), and yep, still have their original Stanley.]
Wedding Gift: This is the big one, and something you should plan to spend a bit more money on. Good news is you have time to save (and since you aren’t obliged to bring a present to the actual event) you still have some time post wedding. Good rule of thumb here is to stick to the registry. It makes your life easier, and it will certainly be appreciated by the bride and groom.
There is one totally tactless rule that says that a guest should give the amount that the reception cost per plate. Now we don’t feel compelled to explain why that is in such poor taste (regardless of what’s on the plate), but have to wonder, how on earth would a guest know how much their dinner costs? Does that mean that if your friends are throwing a more casual wedding they deserve cheaper gifts? Last time we checked, presents were about the thought, not about how much the other person is willing to spend on you first.
You should give what you can afford, and most couples have invited you to their wedding because they want you to share in their love, not their love of things.
- Coworker and/or a distant family friend or relative: $50-$75
- Relative or friend: $75-$100
- Close relative or close friend: $100-$150+