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?
Author: April Dykman
As a freelance writer, editor, and blogger, April Dykman specialized in personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship topics. Her work has been featured on MSNBC, Fox Business, Forbes, MoneyBuilder, Yahoo! Finance, Lifehacker, and The Consumerist. Now she does direct response copywriting but, in her free time, April is a wannabe chef, a diehard Italophile, and a recovering yogi.