How many wedding gifts should you buy?

Earlier this week, I wrote about the problem with trying to buy the perfect gift. Sticking with that gift theme, there's a question that's been on my mind: If you're invited to an engagement party, a bridal shower, and a wedding ceremony all for the same couple, and you attend all three, do you give a gift at each event?

See, I've been invited to a few weddings this year. And it seems like the etiquette “experts” all agree that each event requires a separate gift, according to tradition. Here are some examples from around the web:

If I bring a gift to the bridal shower, should I still bring a gift to the wedding?” a question Peggy Post, co-author of the 18th edition of Emily Post's Etiquette is accustomed to answering. Her advice is, basically, that a shower gift is not a wedding gift. “I know some of these shower gifts are expensive, but be smart so you don't have to break the bank.”

I'm going to both the wedding shower and the wedding. Must I buy gifts for both?” “Unfortunately, yes. ‘That's part of the obligation you agreed to when you RSVPed for both,' says [Mark] Kingsdorf,” bridal consultant at The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants — Real Simple's The Essential Guide to Buying Wedding Gifts.

“According to custom, the answer to whether to give gifts for engagements, showers and weddings is: maybe, yes and yes.” — How Stuff Works.

Hmm, exactly how is one supposed to “be smart” about expensive gifts? And calling gifts an obligation? It kinda puts a bad taste in my mouth, like it's sucking the joy out of giving a gift in the first place.

Guests Say, “Forget the Experts!”

A lot of wedding guests disagree with the expert advice. For a few examples, I did a very scientific poll (of Yahoo! Answers responses). Here are a few that say that multiple gifts are not an obligation:

“Do not feel obligated [to give a wedding gift after giving a shower gift]. You did give them a gift already, so if you do want to gift them something, you can, but you don't absolutely have to.”

“There's no definitive ‘proper' way to do this, other than the etiquette stipulation that the shower is a gift-giving event, and the wedding is not. (Obviously, most people do want to give wedding gifts, but that's tradition, not a requirement).”

“Etiquette says NOTHING about purchasing multiple gifts for one wedding. You gave a gift, that's all that you need to concern yourself with. No more gift giving is necessary.”

I always thought that you give a separate gift for the shower and the wedding. As for engagement parties and bachelorette parties, I have no idea. None of my friends and family members have had either of those.

But when I got married, all of our friends and family members gave one gift, even if they attended the shower and the wedding. (This was definitely fine by me — I'm rather shy and I actually would've been embarrassed if people bought me multiple gifts. My aunt basically had to force me to register for gifts in the first place.)

And then, to confuse things even more, Miss Manners has a take that's somewhere in between one-gift-only and gifts galore:

“Engagement presents were a rarity until a decade or two ago. Perhaps a favorite aunt might be so moved, or a prospective mother-in-law might give the bride a family bauble to wear at the wedding. But no one showed up with a present at an engagement party, because the purpose of the party was for the parents to announce the engagement as a surprise. Multiple showers are warranted only when the bride or the couple has more than one distinct set of intimate friends. They should not be catch-all occasions, and nobody should be expected to attend more than one. Anyway, shower presents should be charming but trivial, and not comparable to wedding presents.”

No one agrees! And basically, I just want to do what everyone else is doing. I'm not looking to take some kind of gift-giving stance at my husband's coworker's wedding. I also don't want to be the lone weirdo giving multiple gifts.

So I'm simply wondering, what does everyone else do? If you're invited to multiple events and you want to attend and celebrate with the bride and/or couple, when do you bring a gift?

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Beth
Beth
6 years ago

I set a budget for wedding gifts — when I’ve been invited to two showers and the wedding, for instance, the budget gets spread out over those three events. Usually I don’t attend multiple events anymore because my friends and family are so geographically spread out. IMHO, this multiple gifts thing is getting out of hand. In most cases, weddings aren’t young people living at home needing to establish their own household. Most of my friends and family had pretty much everything they needed before they got married — usually they had been living together for a while, and often… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Whoa whoa whoa!!!! TWO showers for the SAME wedding?!?!?!?!?!? Is that normal? I suppose if there’s a shower in the brides hometown and another where she actually lives, assuming the two are far apart. But, good grief, I sure as hell wouldn’t go to BOTH showers! As for the rule of buying a wedding gift whose value covers your meal – it’s a nice intention, but it isn’t actually an etiquette rule, AFAIK. At least I’m pretty sure I read some etiquette expert dispelling that myth, along with the myth that you have one year to buy a wedding present.… Read more »

ONE EC
ONE EC
6 years ago

I didn’t realize this was a question that so many people had. An engagement party is not a gift giving occasion. It’s a party to celebrate the couple and introduce their social circles to one another. A shower is a small gift that fits in with the theme of the shower. A wedding gift is a gift that fits into the consideration of my budget and my relationship with the bride and groom. Your title asks how many wedding gifts you should give, the answer to that is one. I think you meant to ask if you should give additional… Read more »

Marsha
Marsha
6 years ago

I’ve never known a couple that had an engagement party. I guess I don’t circulate in social circles where these events are prevalent. If I’m invited to one in the future, I don’t think I’d bring a gift.

I always decide my total budget ahead of time, the amount dependent on my closeness to the couple. I bring a modest themed gift to the shower. The remainder of the budget is given in the form of a check at the wedding. I don’t care whether the etiquette “experts” think this is proper or not.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

Many couples I know welcome cash as gifts! They already have what they need and would love a contribution to their honeymoon instead. It’s hard to tell people just to bring themselves and not a gift.

I think some people are stuck on this idea that a wedding gift has to be something memorable that the bride and groom will keep forever. In many cases, the giver is saddling the couple with items they won’t use but will feel guilty getting rid of.

I’m all for practical gifts taken from the registry (or similar to what’s on the registry).

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I once overheard two women talking about wedding registries and such. They were both married and one of them mentioned how she used to get wedding gifts that were fancy and exciting unlike the boring towels and kitchen utensils on the registry. It wasn’t until she got married that she realized that yes, the couple really do WANT those boring things because odds are they NEED those boring things. Or at least they want to replace older and not-so-nice items. So then she started buying the boring stuff off the registry. As for cash gifts to pay for the honeymoon……..… Read more »

Lizzie
Lizzie
6 years ago

My husband and I set up a honeymoon registry precisely because we couldn’t afford our trip otherwise. I suppose we could have spent years saving up for it and made it a delayed honeymoon, or taken a modest local one instead of a 10-day trip to Costa Rica, but we decided that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we wanted to go somewhere we normally wouldn’t. That said, a lot of our relatives agreed with you and asked for other wedding gift ideas. But our friends were enthusiastic about the honeymoon registry, and several other couples have done them since.… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

You would probably hate Stag and Doe parties then! Not sure if it’s a regional thing, but essentially you buy a ticket ($15-$20) to a party at a rented hall and then the bridal party try to sell you raffle tickets and drinks all night long. All proceeds go to the bride and groom’s wedding.

I don’t object to “funding someone else’s honeymoon” because some of my friends don’t have the money to travel very often. Whether or not people agree is up to then 🙂

J-Lo
J-Lo
1 year ago
Reply to  Beth

Stag and Doe party? That sounds very money grabbing! Kind of like that dollar dance I saw at a wedding. Tacky!!!

Daria
Daria
6 years ago

I don’t think that a bridal couple should feel that the their guests should help finance their honeymoon. If you can’t afford a trip to an exotic place at the time of your wedding, it doesn’t mean that during the course of your marriage, you won’t be going on trips of a lifetime such as for an anniversary. My honeymoon was a couple of days at the Jersey shore (some place I had been year after year growing up)from the kindness of a family friend who let my husband and I use their house on the beach. Two years later,… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago

Ditto what everyone else already has said. Usually shower gifts can be quite small and practical, but yes, I think you should give a gift at both of these events. Adjust the amount you would have spent on a wedding gift down based on how much you spent at the shower. Presumably if you are invited to a shower, you are closer friends with the person. If you aren’t, decline the invitation to the shower altogether. If you plan to spend $75 on the couple, buy a $25 dollar shower gift and a $50 wedding gift. Engagement parties? No. How… Read more »

Mrs PoP
Mrs PoP
6 years ago

For engagement parties, a bottle of wine or something to be consumed at the party is typical in our crowd. I’ve never actually been to any bridal showers – they tend to be something that’s family only among my group of friends since we’re spread out around the country. For my BFF’s wedding where I was a bridesmaid, she told me not to send a gift, but I wanted my bow to be included in her rehearsal bow bouquet, so I regifted her a travel book for the destination they were planning their honeymoon in. I sent it to her… Read more »

Samantha
Samantha
6 years ago
Reply to  Mrs PoP

This is what people do in our area, as well. You can bring a nice box of chocolate, a bottle of wine, a handwritten card of congratulations. Or nothing.

Our engagement party was simply to introduce our two families and circle of friends. No one gave us gifts and that was not expected – we hadn’t even registered yet.

lmoot
lmoot
6 years ago

Luckily most of the people in my life eloped. I’ve never heard of bringing a gift to an engagement party. I would just bring whatever I normally bring to a party (wine, liquor, or beer…depending on the hosts/crowd). For the bridal shower, it’s usually close friends of the bride and not a formal event. I make a nice card and get a small cheap gift ($10-15)that references an inside joke or our specific friendship. And for the wedding gift I just get something off their registry (around $50 max)and another handmade card with nice lovely things to say.

Alicia
Alicia
6 years ago

I think that what gifts one gives and how much one spends varies greatly and is dependent on local/regional culture. I’m from NJ and now live in DC. My general guideline is no engagement present (unless it’s someone I’m particularly close to and just really want to get them something), $40 for a shower present and $75-$100 cash/check for each person attending the wedding. When I’m in the wedding and spending hundreds of dollars on dress, shoes, etc. I might scale the gift back. But then I probably love the person so much that instead of giving cash/check I give… Read more »

smirktastic
smirktastic
6 years ago

Engagement party? Our was just the two of us (wink wink) – no gifts expected or needed!

Emily
Emily
6 years ago

I like to give gifts, so I try to get presents for both a bridal shower and a wedding if I am invited to both, although admittedly the bridal shower present will generally be smaller. If you give your present before the wedding, though, at least give the couple a card saying “congratulations” if you attend the wedding itself. Both our Best Man and one of the bridesmaids gave presents at the engagement party or bridal shower, and then we didn’t get a single thing from them at the wedding. We were honestly just worried that their card or present… Read more »

Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
6 years ago

I think so much depends on the social and cultural expectations of the group and your relationship with the bride/groom. I’m personally overwhelmed by weddings because I come from a very tight knit yet large cultural community where a lot is dictated by tradition. Think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, where it’s blasphemous to do something outside the scope of tradition. I do my best to manage costs by thinking outside the box and sticking to smaller and more personal gifts.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago

I give a shower gift if I attend the shower, and a wedding gift if I attend the wedding. My advice is this: if you cannot afford both, don’t go to the shower. Or, buy something low cost for either the shower or both the wedding and shower. Unless the bridal couple are complete mercenaries or Hollywood megastars there’s almost always something modest on the registry, such as wash cloths. Not an exciting gift, but if they’re on the registry then the couple would like those wash cloths! And, if there isn’t anything you can afford on the registry, try… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago

After reading some of the other comments I realized I should give a cultural/ethninc context for my answer. Culturally I’m a New England WASP, which is probably a big reason why asking for cash really irks me.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

Yes! In some cultures, cash wedding gifts are the norm. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t bother me — I grew up with people from different cultures.

In my one friend’s culture, it’s not usual for couples to come away with enough cash for a downpayment on a house or be able to buy a car.

Jen
Jen
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I have no problem at all with cash as a gift. I give it more often than not as a gift.

But that’s entirely different than having the couple ASK for cash as a gift. Especially if they ask for ONLY cash. Saying it’s the only way they’ll be able to _______ doesn’t make me like it any better. We all know the ways people can spend money!

Maid of Honor
Maid of Honor
6 years ago

I’m the Maid of Honor in a wedding right now, and the bride is having 3 different showers (one with each family, and one for friends), and I’m invited to all three. I think it’s beyond excessive, especially since the couple has been living together for awhile and have everything they need, and the registry is full of wants. This was also the case for another wedding I was in last year. Although I plan on attending multiple showers, I will only be giving one gift at the first shower. I feel the whole idea of a shower is outdated,… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Maid of Honor

Wow – that’s insane! I can see having separate showers for each social group, but if I were the bride I wouldn’t expect my bridesmaids and maid of honor to give a gift at eavery single shower! Also, multiple out-of-town bachelorette parties?? That’s also excessive. I was in my brother’s wedding. I was too far away to go to any showers, so I didn’t. I didn’t go to the bachelorette party, although I don’t remember why. All in all, the cost to me was about $200 for the dress and shoes. It would have been more if I hadn’t shared… Read more »

Tracy
Tracy
6 years ago
Reply to  Maid of Honor

The out of town bachelorette parties are a bit excessive, but a tip that I learned from my older sister that may be helpful here. If you are in the bridal party, and are invited to multiple showers, give the same gift multiple times. The bride understands that you don’t want or need to buy her 3 different gifts, so after the shower, collect the gift, rewrap it, and give it to her again at the next shower. This works especially well if the entire bridal party goes in on the shower gift. It can be a little secret between… Read more »

Cath
Cath
6 years ago
Reply to  Maid of Honor

Holy Crow!! I don’t know if I’m underthinking this or what, but I can’t believe what I’ve read. When my hubby and I got married we had been on our own for a number of years and were merging 2 3-bedroom homes into one. We were also having a ‘destination’ wedding, so for some the cost of getting there with families in tow would be pricey. Therefore, on our wedding invites to join in our celebration at the family reunion campsite (“Camp Tie-the-Knot” hence the destination) we expressed that dinner would be on us that night and guests should come… Read more »

J-Lo
J-Lo
1 year ago
Reply to  Maid of Honor

I just read from a wedding etiquette expert that the only people who should be invited to multiple showers are the bridesmaids/attendants, and they should only give one shower gift.

Meredith
Meredith
6 years ago

My cousin (in her mid 20s, already co-owning a house with her fiance) is getting married next month. In our culture it is expected to give cash for the wedding and some sort of “thing from the registry” for the shower. I had received a $50 amazon.com gift card I had hoped to give at the shower but it was suggested to me by the mom of the bride that I actually bring something from the registry that the bride could unwrap at the shower, so now I feel compelled to go shopping. Or I guess, I can use the… Read more »

Kristen
Kristen
6 years ago

I was a bridesmaid in 11 weddings. Here are my 2 cents: engagement party-no, never seen it; shower-yes, it is basically the purpose of that event; bachelorette party-depends, that one I always had to ask around or there is usually some clue on the invitation; wedding-yes, “etiquette” says you have a year to give it but that is kind of awkward.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Kristen

The only bachelorette party I’ve been to was split into a day at a spa and a dinner. The invitation explained that guests would be paying their own way as well as the bride’s, which seemed fair. I was glad it was split into two events since I couldn’t afford the spa, so I went to the dinner instead. I used to think you had a year to buy the wedding gift but that’s actually not true. It should be sent either before the wedding or brought to the wedding. Sadly, there have been instances of gifts getting stolen from… Read more »

Tracy
Tracy
6 years ago

That’s so interesting. I’ve never been to a wedding where people actually bring big gifts, cards and checks, yes, but not gifts in boxes. And I would actually find that to be cumbersome for the bride and groom. What if they don’t have a way to get it home? Or there are so many that they have to make 2 trips or something. They have so many other things to think about on that day, why make them figure out logistics for getting gifts home. At least in my circle wedding gifts are either shipped directly to the couple or… Read more »

Sara
Sara
6 years ago
Reply to  Tracy

Every wedding I’ve ever been to you always bring the wedding gift to the reception after the wedding. Sometimes there’ll be a special time to unwrap them at the reception so they can thank everyone personally (thank you cards are still sent out later). At the end of the night the couple or family will pack them up in someone’s car. It’s probably different if transportation is an issue.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Tracy

Whenever I’ve seen gifts at a wedding there weren’t many. I think it was more a case where people bought gifts too late to be shipped.

As for money at the wedding the only experience I have with that is the scene from Goodfellas where the bride is scared that someone is going to steal the pile of cash that’s building up. Of course, no one does because most of the guests are part of the mob.

Jess
Jess
6 years ago
Reply to  Kristen

I’ve never heard of bringing a gift to the bachelorette party. That’s not really the point, is it? The two that I’ve been to (my own and my sister’s) were weekends away with a large group, so bringing a gift would have been unnecessarily cumbersome. I’m going to a third tonight and have no intention of bringing a gift (I mean, we haven’t bought their gift yet, but that’s beside the point).

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago

I wonder if maybe some of the problem is that people don’t realize they can say, “No,” to attending a shower or a wedding?

Lizzie
Lizzie
6 years ago

If I say no to a shower or a wedding I send a gift anyway. For a shower, it’s because since I’m close enough to the bride to be invited, I’m close enough to want to give her something whether or not I’m there. For a wedding, I was just always taught that an invitation merits a gift regardless of attendance. It also feels like a way to contribute to the couple’s marriage even if you can’t witness the wedding.

Aileen
Aileen
6 years ago

Why is this even a question? If you are invited to a shower or a wedding, of course you bring a gift. I would have been hurt if someone I know showed up to one of my events and didn’t bring anything! For the shower one can look at the registry and find something affordable. For the wedding the rule is too at least cover the cost of your meal. I’ve either given a check of a gift certificate to a nice restaurant. However, engagement parties are a relatively new trend. I’m not sure what the etiquette would be for… Read more »

AA
AA
6 years ago

Lots of great comments above. I think ONE EC really nailed it as far as strict etiquette. It seems the answer is so varied amongst experts because what is expected really does differ from group to group. Personally, I gave multiple gifts to close friends because I knew what they needed and liked and I genuinely wanted to give more than one gift for the various wedding activities. For weddings of extended family and people with whom I am not as close, I give a single gift that I can afford. Quite frankly, I feel that anyone who is upset… Read more »

Bess
Bess
6 years ago

I was recently married in 2012 and I attended many weddings for friends and family around the same time. From my experience, this was the best practice – 1. Engagement Party – my then fiance and I had one because one of our friends wanted to throw it for us. It wasn’t a gift-giving celebration, merely a kick-off welcoming both sets of family members. I was raised to not show up empty handed, so bringing a modest bottle of wine is appropriate. 2. Showers – If you are attending, you should bring a gift. I agree with other posts, set… Read more »

Julie
Julie
6 years ago
Reply to  Bess

Bess. I am curious as what area you are living. I have never heard that it is taboo to bring a gift to a wedding.

Candice
Candice
1 year ago
Reply to  Bess

My fiance and I had a convo about this earlier. My upbringing/social circle’s etiquette is to bring THE gift to the shower and NOT to the wedding/reception. Who wants to deal with transporting all that? Usually, it ended up being a big shower gift and no gift at the wedding- you should give a card (money optional if you gave a shower gift), but most times, there is a card box/bird cage and no place for gifts to go. Peers of the couple are not expected to give as much as older family. In my fiancé’s world, you give a… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

I’m no wedding expert, I’ve only attended 3 in 15 years: two of them were mine and one was of a distant acquaintance. With that said, I personally didn’t expect gifts the second time around just his past year but I felt obligated to “register” since several people pretty much asked me to. I didn’t have a shower or engagement party for a variety of reasons – all of my friends and family are out of state and DH doesn’t have living family. Cash as a gift was never even a thought though we did receive $20 in a card!… Read more »

Tracy
Tracy
6 years ago

I go with the Miss Manners approach if I am invited to multiple events (and I agre that engagement parties do not require gifts, although I will usually bring a card). I’ll get a larger gift as the wedding present, usually kitchen related because all of my friends know that I love to cook and most of them love to cook as well. Usually their le creuset, baking dishes, a Kitchenaid mixer, or beautiful serving platters. And then for the shower I will bring a smaller but related gift. Matching kitchen towels and oven mitts, a trivet, a cookbook, serving… Read more »

Sara
Sara
6 years ago

Before I had my own wedding, I spent about $35 on a wedding gift and if I attended the shower, something in the $20-30 range. Now I spend a minimum of $50 on wedding gifts and up to $150 if they are family. Showers are really a time to lift the bride up in a stressful season, so any extra effort you can make as her friend is a noted gesture. She will never forget it. There were girls who split the cost of gifts at mine (I find that practice tacky), gave me cash, or no gift at all.… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Sara

I did split the cost of a wedding gift with a friend, but we got something expensive, like a Kitchen Aid mixer. However, two guests to the same wedding got the couple a cake pan (1). And they weren’t poor, either. It’d be one thing if they were starving students or artists, but they made good money. And, at the last minute, they brought an extra guest to boot! 😛

Julie
Julie
6 years ago

I also have split the cost of expensive gifts with friends. By expensive, I mean we each put in excess of $100.00 for the gift. Personally I think it is tacky when brides register for such expensive presents.

Anne
Anne
6 years ago
Reply to  Julie

What you just said. A couple of years ago I was invited to the 4th wedding of a barely known co-worker.

She had a huge registry at two different stores. I wanted to spend around $50 but I found out just ONE of the glasses she wanted, out of a set of six, was $50. I just bought her a $50 gift card for that store.

Really, when does it end?

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Julie

If all the gifts on the registry are expensive then, yes, that’s really tacky. But if there’s a full range of price points then I don’t mind as much. Plus, the Kitchen Aid mixer bride really was starting out with her husband despite living together for a year or two. They didn’t have a house and were in a small apartment, so they didn’t have a lot of stuff. In fact, their flatware at that point was a bag of mismatched hand-me-downs I’d given her, and those I got from my brother.

JoDi
JoDi
6 years ago

I’ve lived in a couple of different places and been in different circles of people, and it has always been traditional to bring a smaller household gift for the shower and a larger gift (or cash) for the wedding. I’ve known a couple of people who only give one gift at the shower and none at the wedding, but that has been very rare in my experience.

Abby
Abby
6 years ago

When I got married I never thought of gifts as a “morale boost” and I was thrilled if people chipped in together to get something that an individual would not have been able to afford. I certainly did not pay close attention to how much anyone spent and it did not make me feel “better” if they spent more. I know that most of my friends and family live life on a budget. They were invited to my shower and/or wedding because of the relationship that I have with them, not how much they would spend on me. I think… Read more »

Sara
Sara
6 years ago
Reply to  Abby

Sure twisted my words there! I read this site daily and never comment. Should have kept it that way! 🙁 Going back into hibernation…

Abby
Abby
6 years ago
Reply to  Sara

I’m sorry, it was not my intention to twist your words…from your reply of course I believe that you did not mean it that way, but to me, it did read as a little entitled. Knowing that is not your intention, I’m sure you will agree that many brides DO seem to have this opinion/feeling these days! I think it is unfortunate that there are people who seem to place more value on the ACTUAL value of a gift, rather than the relationship of the person giving the gift. I think that quite often, these brides are really lovely people… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Abby

I didn’t take Sara’s view of the bridal shower as a morale booster because of the gifts, but because of being surrounded by close friends and family.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
6 years ago

Commenters who’ve used real names so far:
Beth, Jen, Marsha, Beth, Jen, Jane, Alicia, Stefanie, Jen, Jen, Meredith, Kristen, Jen, Jen, Carla, Sara, Jodi.

I’m going out on a limb and saying this is a topic men don’t worry much about. In keeping with that, I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually bought a wedding present in my life. Nor have I been to an engagement party or (expectedly) bridal shower.

Marsha
Marsha
6 years ago

Count yourself lucky. As the feminine side of my marriage, I’m expected to deal with this sort of stuff, even if it’s one of my husband’s family members. It’s not something I enjoy. I despise going to showers (wedding or baby) because of the stupid games that you’re expected to participate in, and having to watch the bride (or mom-to-be) open tons of gifts. (How many kitchen utensils/cute baby outfits can you ooh and ahh over?) I also find long weddings tedious. If there’s any way to avoid a shower or a wedding without hurting someone’s feelings, I just send… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

I haven’t been to a shower in almost two decades and long to go to them for some reason. I guess the idea of having close family and friends and ones that are in the process of crossing over into a new phase of life other than death appeal to me. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. 🙂

Tracy
Tracy
6 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

This!

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago

LOL! Oh, just you wait… There’s a new trend now: CO-ED showers!!!! My boyfriend and I went to his brother’s & sister-in-law’s baby shower a while ago. Of course, they had the games, but they weren’t as awful as others I’ve had to play. Interestingly, having guys there made the game playing easier. The men were so competitive that us women could just let the guys play it. Of course, my boyfriend had never been to a shower. He thought it was like a regular party, but you bring a gift. So he initially couldn’t understand why I was freaking… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

lol. Good point! Most couples I know, it’s the women who do the shopping for the couple. It’s not the norm where I live for men to attend or host bridal showers or wedding showers. (Or help with the planning of showers or weddings — which often ends up in extra costs too!)

When it comes to big events, it’s cheaper to be a single man than a single women. Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy to to celebrate people’s weddings and babies when I’m able.

Anne
Anne
6 years ago

I certainly do get that men don’t worry about this. Not at all. When I was married, decades ago, there were several unmarried men who came to the wedding. Not one of them gave a gift.

Diane
Diane
6 years ago
Reply to  Anne

You know, the same thing happened at my wedding (decades ago)! I hadn’t noticed at the time, but yes, the unmarried male guests did not give us any presents. It was lovely to simply have them there.

Ely
Ely
6 years ago

As a bride, I invited people whose attendance was important to me. Gifts were not important. I expected people to give what THEY wanted and were comfortable giving, and in many cases what they gave was their presence. As a guest I expect the same. I have one friend for whom I attended bridal shower, wedding, and baby shower; in each case I brought a gift because I WANTED to and which was something that I wanted to give and was meaningful both for me and for her. If I ever felt a gift was demanded from me against my… Read more »

Lizzie
Lizzie
6 years ago

One difference in the consequence of not giving a gift at various parties is whether gifts are opened in front of the guests. Wedding gifts are usually not, but shower gifts, in my experience, are a big production: everyone watching, maybe passing the gift around to see it better, making a bow bouquet or paper plate hat…you know. A big to-do. So if you don’t bring a gift, it can feel awkward to sit there and watch the display. In a smaller group, it might be obvious that you didn’t bring one. Guests aren’t in control of this, but the… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
6 years ago

My cousin is getting married next month and I am in the wedding. I had the same questions you did. How many gifts am I expected to give? My step-mom said that unless the shower is a themed shower then you just give one. You can give it at the shower, mail it to them at anytime before the wedding or at the wedding. I spent about $100 and got her a few things off of her registry since she will be setting up house. I think this whole multiple gift thing is something relatively recent and is influenced by… Read more »

Hilde
Hilde
6 years ago

I once attended a wedding of a Turkish couple living in Germany. There is no shower, there are literally hundreds of people invited, and for gifts Euro bills are pinned to the bride´s and groom´s clothes. I thought this was quite a good way of starting a marriage: with a lot of cash!

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Hilde

Its interesting how some folks here, in the US think cash is tacky.

Samantha
Samantha
6 years ago

If I’m a close enough friend/family member to be invited to the shower (and to actually want to attend), I go and bring a present. But I usually do not buy an outrageous gift – say $25.

Then when my husband and I attend the wedding, we would give a present or cash – say $50- $100.

If its a coworker of your husband’s, maybe you should decline the shower invite and just attend the wedding and buy something off the registry.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
6 years ago

My friend whose wedding I was just in had 2 showers — one in Boston (where she’d lived for the past 8 years) and one in South Florida (where she’d lived her entire life previous to that). She lives in Georgia now, I’m not sure if there was a shower there or not (if there was I’m sure it was small, just the groom’s family since they’re from there). I attended the South Florida shower and gave her printed pictures of the shower gifts because I was having them shipped to her house so she wouldn’t have to pay shipping.… Read more »

Jennifer
Jennifer
6 years ago

I’ve been to a ton of different weddings (Indian, Asian, American), been a bridesmaid in at least 5 weddings. I think Jen in Boston is right, it really does depend on the context and culture. Usually, I have a set budget per wedding ($200 for family, $150 for friends, and $100 for distant friends–this is for me and my husband). I just deduct from that budget. So if I go to a shower for a friend, I’ll buy something for $50, and buy a $100 wedding present. Engagement parties-never been to one, but I don’t think presents are expected. Shower–Something… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago

Jen from Boston is right–I’m also a New England WASP and even the thought of cash gifts at a wedding is contrary to everything I’ve ever been taught was proper.

Sarah N
Sarah N
6 years ago

I’ve been to a number of weddings over the past few years and I would say that if I’m invited to the shower and wedding I bring a gift to both. With the shower, I tend to buy off the registry and spend about half what I would on the wedding present. For the wedding itself, I’m more likely to give a cheque or a gift card to the place where they registered so the couple can buy something they didn’t realize they needed or put it towards a larger ticket item on the registry that I am not buying… Read more »

Manda
Manda
6 years ago

I was taught that the wedding shower is a party with gifts for the bride to help her set up her new home. So a shower gift is for the bride and a wedding gift is for the couple together. What I usually do is a household item from the registry for the shower and then a card with a check for the wedding. I was born in Western NY and that’s what my family has done since my parents were married at least. I would say that engagement parties are no gift required unless you wanted to give them… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Manda

Yeah, showers are usually supposed to be a surprise. And, technically, the bride’s family isn’t supposed to throw one since it would appear to opportunistic. This is why I’m afraid that even if I tell people I don’t want a shower someone will throw one anyway.

I just hope it doesn’t have any silly games.

Adrian
Adrian
6 years ago

I probably would not buy an engagement gift, but I would bring a gift to the bridal shower and the wedding, but it wouldn’t be anything outrageously expensive in either case. For graduation gifts, I have learned how to origami dollar bills into hearts and then I put the in a pretty chinese take-out box or a glass jar. That makes a pretty and original gift. For weddings, my standard gift is a pretty picture frame. They are inexpensive, there are a ton of sizes and styles to choose from, and they are going to have a ton of pictures,… Read more »

Lola
Lola
6 years ago

Most of the showers/weddings I have been to have been for very close friends or family. I bought separate gifts for each occasion–I didn’t even think about buying just one. Then a few years ago, I bought just one gift for a coworker off of her registry even though I was invited to both the shower and the wedding. I later found out that she returned all her wedding gifts and spent the credit on clothes for herself. It was her gift to do with as she pleased but it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. I… Read more »

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
6 years ago

I would bring gifts for the shower and wedding, but not for an engagement party. As for giving cash–I would and have done it for younger relatives, as a way of helping them get started as a couple, but not for my friends.

I know this is a bit hypocritical, but I almost feel like giving cash is OK, but *asking* for cash is tacky.

Sonja
Sonja
6 years ago

Some friends of ours give the nicest wedding gift, they host a nice dinner for the couple within a few months after the wedding. These friends are excellent entertainers and make a beautiful meal and serve plenty of wine. It is a relaxing and special evening and you feel completely spoiled. They started this tradition with my husband and me after we got married and now it is their “thing.” I am sure it is not inexpensive, but more importantly you definitely feel their care and affection in their effort. It is pretty wonderful. If you have a special talent,… Read more »

Emily @ evolvingPF
Emily @ evolvingPF
6 years ago

I don’t think the number of gifts given is very important. Just decide the total amount you’re going to spend celebrating the new marriage and spread it over one or more gifts depending on the events you’re invited to. This hasn’t come up much for me – I think I’ve attended one engagement party (didn’t bring a gift) and one bridal shower (brought a gift).

Kat
Kat
6 years ago

As far as I know, unless a couple registers for gifts before their engagement party (no one I’ve ever met) then the engagement party is a gift-free or gift-optional occasion. If you are invited to a shower, I think it is appropriate to bring a small, relatively inexpensive gift off the registry, preferably one that seems more personal to the bride rather than couple-y. As far as I know, a wedding gift should be off the registry and should be approximately equivalent to what you believe the cost of your attendance is to the couple, regardless of how much it… Read more »

Brian @ Luke1428
Brian @ Luke1428
6 years ago

I would approach this from a quality perspective. If I have $100 budgeted for a gift, would I rather split that up into two cheaper gifts or get them only one that’s more expensive and maybe of better quality? Guess it depends on the person.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago

In my case it would depend on what’s left on the reigstry 😉 If all that’s left are oddball inexpensive items then I would try to get a bunch of stuff, and maybe leave some items on the registry for the other procrastinators. OTOH, if there’s a really cool more expensive item within my budget then I’d probably spring for that.

But, if it’s on the registry you can’t go wrong as it’s something the couple really does want.

Jess
Jess
6 years ago

I think it depends on your personal situation. When DH and I got married, I received registry gifts at my shower. Several people, mostly family and our well-established and well-off parents of friends, gave gifts at the shower (well, the women) as well as something at the wedding. We got mostly envelopes at the wedding, to be honest, though I think there were a few physical gifts. One of my aunts gave a gift at the shower and made us a quilt for our bed, which I believe she’s done for all the now-married couples. My sister threw us an… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

I’ve always brought a gift to the bridal shower and wedding. I figure out how much I’m willing to spend on each and go from there. I find the registries helpful. I typically give one themed gift (pots and pans, silverware, tupperware, sheets and towels) but I do try to make one of the gifts a bit more personal. I’ve never brought gifts to a bachelorette party and didn’t even know that was a thing until I showed up at one and everyone but me brought gifts. Now I ask around to see what people are doing.

Beth S
Beth S
6 years ago

We are invited to many showers & weddings of our children’s friends. Our church hosts a bridal shower for each bride, and one option is a “Group Gift”–you can contribute any amount you wish, all the contributions are put toward the purchase of a larger needed item (like a Kitchenaid mixer) and sign the card. I usually give cash for the wedding (or graduation) gift. If we are not close to the couple, I write the check for $20.14. I’m sure they wish it was more, but it at least makes them smile. For those on a budget, I highly… Read more »

PJ
PJ
6 years ago

I had an issue like this and I dont have a problem purchasing a gift; However, if I fly out to a wedding I am the gift. Enjoy your wedding

Don
Don
6 years ago

I get a box of 10 Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover books and give a book for wedding presents. I’ve heard back more than once that it was the best gift the couple received.

Marie
Marie
6 years ago

In my social circle, a LOT of engagement parties are given under the pretense of another event, and the engagement is a surprise announcement. This gets rid of the whole “gift or no gift” question, since everyone thinks they’re attending a random party at first. Plus, the surprise is always exciting!

Meredith
Meredith
6 years ago

I had an interesting conversation with my cousin lately (mid 60s male/he lives in NJ outside of NYC). He said that minimum a wedding gift must be $125/per person invited, meaning if the couple is invited it is $250 gift, if a family of 4 = $500. His daughter had been married the year before and they had received a check for $375 from another cousin (family of 7) and they were being described as being “too cheap.” When I told him of the research I had done, he had said that maybe in other parts of the country but… Read more »

Rachel
Rachel
4 years ago

For themed showers/parties (stock the bar, lingerie for the new bride) I consider the gifts to be mandatory for party attendance, and separate from a wedding gift. Here’s where it gets a little hairy – most brides (this is true of every wedding/shower I’ve attended in the past 5 years) create one set of gift registries, which are printed on shower invitations, the wedding invitation and the wedding website. To put it differently, brides do not make specific registries for their showers nor did they make specific registries for their wedding. Some of the expert advice suggests that shower gifts… Read more »

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