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Meaningful gifting: wedding gift etiquette, ideas and trends

Meaningful gifting: wedding gift etiquette, ideas and trends

When it comes to wedding gifts, a little consideration goes a long way – the best ones are thoughtful in their content and creative in the way they are presented.

Wedding gift etiquette: the main steps to follow

A wedding gift is not just any gift; it’s a gift on a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, and, thus, unsurprisingly, there’s a bit more pressure in choosing it. Wedding gifts are not about their price, it’s about gifting something really special. But by taking time to find a meaningful and personal gift, you show your respect to the couple and express your gratitude for being invited to share in the couple’s celebration. It shows that you appreciate being included in their important life event.

By following wedding gift etiquette, you not only make finding the perfect, most appropriate gift easier for yourself but also help to create a sense of balance among guests, avoiding situations where some gifts might be seen as inadequate or overly extravagant. Each gift should be unique and stand out in its own way, but the right way to achieve it is by being thoughtful and including personal touches, and not by spending strikingly more money than expected. 

When going to a wedding, being bold doesn’t always work – by gifting an overly expensive gift, you can put the couple in an uncomfortable situation. On the other hand, when adhering to general standards of wedding gift giving, you leave a positive impression and show your care and consideration to the couple.

Additionally, it is important to get acquainted with cultural wedding gift customs, as in many cultures, gift-giving is imbued with symbolic meanings and significance. Adhering to these traditions shows your understanding and respect for their cultural values.

Wedding gift guidelines depending on how close you are to the couple

While both guests and family members should follow basic wedding gift etiquette, the expectations for the family are generally higher in terms of the significance and personalization of the gift. Understanding these nuances helps ensure that the gifts given are appropriate and appreciated.

Wedding gift etiquette for family allows to pool resources for a larger, more substantial gift. This might be something like a major household item, a contribution to the honeymoon, or even helping with wedding expenses. Beyond financial support, the family often assists in other ways, such as helping with wedding planning and hosting events like the bridal shower or rehearsal dinner.

It is not unusual for family members to give gifts that have sentimental value, such as heirlooms and gifts that carry family traditions and history. It’s especially usual for the older generation as they tend to pass down jewellery or other items that hold value in the family’s history. As a wedding is often seen as a significant milestone in life, it is a perfect opportunity to gift sentimental pieces.

While family can congratulate the couple in various ways beyond buying gifts, like helping with wedding planning or passing down family heirlooms, wedding gift etiquette for guests generally determines that guests should choose gifts from the couple’s wedding registry. This ensures that the gift is something the couple wants or needs. Thus, wedding guest’s gifts are usually less sentimental and more practical, while it is still nice if they are personalized in some way.

If you’re a part of a wedding party, like a best man, a maid of honour or a bridesmaid, you’re likely much more involved in a wedding than other guests. This may influence the choice of the gift. Being part of the wedding party often involves significant expenses for attire, travel, and pre-wedding events. Despite these costs, it is still customary for wedding party members to give a wedding gift, although it’s understood that the gift does not need to be extravagant.

As best man, maid of honour, and bridesmaids usually have a closer relationship with the couple, the gift can be more personal and thoughtful to reflect this closeness. Just like for the family members, it’s common for the wedding party to contribute to a larger group gift. This can be a substantial item or something personalized and meaningful, like custom-made items, engraved keepsakes, or experience gifts like a special dinner or outing. The thought and effort put into the gift are more important than the cost.

A general wedding gift-buying guide

Let’s look at these wedding gift do’s and don'ts so that you can navigate wedding gift-giving with grace and ensure your contribution is meaningful and appreciated.

Do follow the wedding registry because couples have taken the time to select items they need or want. Choosing a gift from their registry ensures it’s something they will use and appreciate.

Do consider the couple’s preferences to show you know and respect their tastes and needs. Think about their lifestyle, interests, and home when selecting a gift.

Do include a personal note, as a thoughtful message adds a personal touch and expresses your well-wishes. Write a heartfelt note to accompany your gift, reflecting your happiness for the couple.

Don’t give inappropriate gifts, like gifts that are too personal or unrelated to the couple’s interests. Receiving them on such a special day may be uncomfortable. Avoid overly personal items, joke gifts, or anything that doesn’t fit the occasion. Additionally, try thinking of a gift that both the bride and the groom will like. Even if you’re closer friends with one person from the couple, it’s a special day for them as a couple, so the gift should be meant for them both.

Don’t forget about the presentation, as a well-wrapped gift shows care and consideration. Take the time to wrap your gift neatly and include a thoughtful card. Sometimes the most creative wedding gifts are those that have practical and classic content presented uniquely. Not less importantly, follow the desired gifting time. If there’s a gift table at the wedding, leave your gift there. If it’s a destination wedding and the couple has requested to send the gifts to their home and not bring them to the wedding, adhere to their wishes.

Don’t give cash without consideration. While cash is often appreciated, it might feel impersonal if not done thoughtfully. Try to present it thoughtfully, such as in a nice card with a personal message or present it together with a small symbolic gift.

Wedding gift ideas – from timeless classics to one-of-a-kind

When choosing a wedding gift, one often faces the decision between classic and unique options. Classic wedding gifts, such as fine china, crystal glassware, or luxurious linens, are traditionally valued for their practicality at the couple's new home. On the other hand, unique wedding gifts, like personalized artwork, custom experiences, or handcrafted items, offer a distinct touch that reflects the giver's creativity and deep thoughtfulness.

These gifts stand out for the personal connection they create, often becoming memorable keepsakes. Both types of gifts have their charm, and, ultimately, the best choice depends on the couple's tastes and the relationship you share with them. Let’s explore wedding gift ideas for couples, from traditional to unique choices.

Some of the most popular classics are luxury wedding gifts, like home essentials. A high-quality silverware set that can last a lifetime and is ideal for hosting or a cookware set that is essential for newlyweds setting up a kitchen are timeless and luxurious choices. Other options include luxury bedding like high-thread-count sheets, a plush duvet, quality pillows or soft, high-quality towels that will add a touch of luxury to the couple’s daily routines.

For contemporary couples, you can opt for high-end appliances like espresso machines or other technological wedding gifts. When opting for home essentials as a wedding gift, consider the couple’s lifestyle and current home situation so that they can use and appreciate these gifts. For example, if the couple travels a lot, is always on the go and is not getting attached to one place, they might appreciate a high-quality set of suitcases more than a luxurious set of bath towels.

Personal and sentimental gifts are also considered classics. Engraved keepsakes, whether a set of silverware, candlesticks or glassware, are always sentimental. A thoughtful gift is selecting an investment piece that is relevant to the couple, like art and décor.

While classic wedding gifts might be meaningful for many couples, it's essential to tailor them to the couple. The best wedding gifts are the ones that will be sincerely appreciated and used, thus, it is essential to gift something that is in accordance with the couple’s interests and values. If the couple is forward-thinking, dynamic and likes to be surprised, you can surely consider unique wedding gift ideas.

Unique wedding gifts can make a lasting impression and show the couple how much thought you put into their present. One of the usually chosen creative ideas is custom artwork like an illustrated portrait to commemorate the couple’s relationship. As discussed above, the people closest to the couple usually opt for more original and memorable presents.

Popular wedding gift ideas for friends are sentimental keepsakes like wedding vow books and memory boxes. These and other kinds of personalized wedding gifts add a unique and sentimental touch, showing the couple that you put extra thought and effort into their present. If you’re gifting money, you can still add some small unique and personal items like personalized luggage tags or an adventure journal.

Stand out from other guests by embracing these wedding gift trends in 2024

Wedding gift trends 2024 highlights a movement towards more meaningful, sustainable, and personalized wedding gifting. Three main wedding gift trends are experience gifts, eco-friendly gifts, and handmade gifts, shifting the focus to more thoughtful and personalized gifting.

Experience wedding gifts have become increasingly popular as they offer the couple memorable moments rather than material possessions. These gifts, such as cooking classes, adventure tours, or concert and event tickets, allow newlyweds to create lasting memories together and enjoy unique experiences tailored to their interests.

Eco-friendly wedding gifts are also on the rise, driven by a growing awareness of environmental sustainability. These gifts prioritize reducing waste and promoting a greener lifestyle. Examples include organic cotton bedding, sustainable fashion pieces, like nightwear and robes, and plant-based gifts, like herb garden kits or native plant seeds.

Handmade wedding gifts continue to gain traction, valued for their uniqueness and the personal touch they convey. These wedding gifts provide a way to support artisans and sustainable practices, making them meaningful keepsakes that stand out from mass-produced alternatives.

Making conscious wedding gift choices

In 2024, making conscious wedding gift choices extends beyond physical items, with donations to environmental causes and simple acts like tree planting gaining popularity as thoughtful and impactful options.

Donations to environmental causes are a meaningful way to celebrate a couple’s start of a new life as a husband and wife. By contributing to organizations dedicated to conservation, renewable energy, or wildlife protection in the couple's name, you honour their special day by supporting the broader goal of preserving the planet for future generations.

Tree planting is another straightforward yet profound gesture. By planting trees in the couple's name, you provide a gift that grows and benefits the environment over time. Trees help combat climate change, improve air quality, and support biodiversity, making this a deeply symbolic and lasting tribute to the couple's union.

It’s all about the good intentions

Lastly, let’s talk about last-minute wedding gifts.

Even if you're short on time, you can still find a thoughtful and appreciated wedding gift for the happy couple. Consider their interests and preferences, and choose an option that reflects your wishes for their marriage. There are still plenty of thoughtful options available that don’t require spending time in the store when picking the perfect gift or waiting for the delivery if the gift is purchased online. Time-saving yet thoughtful wedding gift options include gift cards and subscription services – if chosen in accordance with the couple’s interests and needs, they will be grateful for the option to pick out the gift themselves.


Author: Renāte Berga

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