Wedding gift etiquette: The dos and don'ts of gift giving

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding might be getting all the attention this week; but it's the weddings you're actually invited to that have you wondering "What should I give for a gift?"

Whether it's close friends or family tying the knot or someone you barely know, you want to do the right thing. We consulted etiquette experts for the answers.

How much to spend is one of the biggest questions we all have. Surprisingly, that's the question most etiquette experts don't want to answer.  Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman of The Protocol School of Texas says it's important not to judge the amount of your gift with the depth of your admiration for the couple. While she would not give a number, $50 has long been the base amount that you should spend on someone you're not close with. The cost of the gift would increase from there depending on how well you know the couple getting married. 

What if you are invited to a wedding shower before the wedding? Are you expected to bring a gift to both celebrations?

The answer is yes, but shower gifts are generally smaller than the gift you would bring to a wedding.  If you decline the invitation to a shower, you are not expected to send a gift anyway. But if you send your regrets to the wedding, it is still proper etiquette to send a wedding gift. 

Remember that old rule that you have a year to send a gift after the date of the wedding? Gottsman says that is an antiquated rule. You should send a gift before the wedding or bring it with you to the reception. 

Here are more answers from Gottsman to some common questions about wedding gifts:   

Q: What to give? Does the gift have to come from the registry?
A: Gottsman's advice: A registry makes it easy if you're not sure what the bride and groom want. But you don't have to use it.  Just consider the couple's likes and needs when choosing a gift.  

Q: May I bring a gift to the wedding?
A: Gifts may be taken to the reception or sent in advance; but don't take it to the wedding ceremony.

Q: Are group gifts OK?
A: Yes, for big-ticket items.

Q: Is it OK to give cash? How much is appropriate?
A: Gottsman says cash is a great option,  but there are no guidelines for how much.

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