Wedding Shower Gift Etiquette

When choosing a wedding shower gift, it can be easy to make a misstep etiquette-wise. Here are a few guidelines to consider.

According to some experts on wedding etiquette (and who makes this stuff up, anyway?), the wedding shower gift is unique. You see, there's no rule that says you actually have to give someone a wedding or engagement party gift. The shower gift, though, is totally expected.

This is hardly common knowledge... and the couple probably doesn't want it to be. Who can blame them? They're just starting out, and need all the free goodies they can acquire to help them start their life together. And in any case, American wedding etiquette has begun to evolve in the direction of multiple gifts anyhow.

Let's take a look at a few other issues of gift-giving etiquette.

The Hostess and the Registry

Now, you may think that as the hostess of a bridal shower, you've already provided your gift in the form of your time, effort, and money. Au contraire, mon frère. Traditionally, the hostess still joins in showering the bride-to-be with gifts. Maybe that's not fair, but that's how it is.

So: How do you pick your gifts? Well, all the attendees could just buy the bride anything they want, but that runs the risk of her ending up with ten sets of Ginsu knives or a few risqué undergarments too many (assuming that's even possible).

Your other options are to either coordinate what everyone will bring, or choose something from her bridal registry.

Speaking of the Registry...

If you purchase a wedding shower gift off your friend's bridal registry, do you still have to buy the couple a wedding gift off said registry?

Officially, no; they invited you to the wedding, right? But in the real world... well, duh. Everyone expects a wedding gift, no matter what they got during the bridal shower or bachelor party.

Besides, wedding gifts are specifically intended for the couple, not just the bride or the groom. And not bringing at least a token wedding gift is rather crass. That said, you don't have to buy from the registry as such. If you're feeling generous, help them pay for their honeymoon or slide 'em some cash.

Spending Guidelines

Again, how much you spend and what to buy is up to you. But believe it or not, some etiquette expert has worked out, in percentages, what each type of gift should cost you. They suggest spending 20% of your total allotted wedding gift budget for the shower and engagement party gifts, each.

The remaining 60% should go toward the actual wedding gift.

Obviously, there's some wiggle room here. Some people don't follow the engagement gift tradition, so you can either spend more for the wedding shower gift, or the wedding gift itself -- it's up to you!

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