Will You Exchange Gifts on Your Wedding Day?

Some people have shared with me that they are going to be giving their future husband or wife an amazing gift on their wedding day. Others seem to think that it’s unnecessary and that gift giving should be saved for anniversaries. Thoughts?

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What To Do If You Need to Return or Exchange a Wedding Gift!

I was talking with a friend about a recent prominent political figure who had to return some gifts that were given to her and her husband. And the question came up: what do you do if you have to return or exchange a wedding gift?

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Here are the etiquette rules related to gift returning — and when it is appropriate.

  • DO return the gifts if the wedding never takes place (as in, if it’s called off)
  • You do NOT need to return the gifts if the wedding takes place, but the marriage doessn’t last (even if the marriage ends within only a few weeks or months)
  • You MAY return gifts that you do not like or receive in duplicate or are broken — which is the area that gets a little dicey — that returning gifts that you don’t like or receive in duplicate, right?

If you receive something you do not like or something in duplicate (or something that’s broken)….

You may return it, but you should be sensitive to the gift giver — especially if it’s a family member! You are NOT obligated to tell the individual. Be sure that when you write your thank you notes, you thank the gift giver for the original gift!

If you registered for gifts and received a duplicate, you can probably exchange with the store, but you still do not need to tell your gift giver of the exchange. Unless, of course, you need their help with the exchange!

If the gift is broken & it was mailed, see if there was insurance so that the post office can replace the cost of it.

Did you have to return gifts? How’d it go? Did you tell the gift giver?

~ Natasha

How to Ask for Gift Cards or Money

As you may know, The Wedding Lens blog always accepts questions from our readers! Today’s blog addresses one of those questions: How do you politely ask your guests to give you gift cards or money instead of gifts?

I’d like to note that this may be a cultural issue. In Asian cultures, it is very common — and expected — that guests give money in lieu of gifts. So asking, in that case, would be a moot point.

There are a few ways that you can ask for gift cards or money. As you probably know, it is considered impolite to give your registry information with the invitation these days.  So — just think of how you would pass along that information. I have a few suggestions:

1) Tell your close family members and close friends (wedding party) your wishes and ask them to pass along the information. This allows you to feel less awkward and gets the information out there.

2) Put it on your wedding website. I have had a few friends write on their site (under a link to “gifts”) something to the effect:

“Your presence at our wedding is the best gift we could receive.  But if we’re honored with a gift from you, a monetary gift or a gift card would help us fill in the missing parts of our life together. If you prefer to give a gift, we have also registered at the following stores…”

Something to that effect lets your friends and family know your preference but doesn’t sound pushy at all.

3) Register with a bank. Some banks let you create a registry so that people can give directly to a “wedding fund” or something that you want. In this economy, I wouldn’t recommend that!

4) Register on the websites where you want the gift cards. Most stores let you register for gift cards… that will definitely make it clear to your guests.

Do you have other suggestions? Let me know!

~ Natasha

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Gift Giving Etiquette


If you’re having trouble figuring out what to do about gift giving, here’s a guide for you to follow.

Timing: When do I send the gift?

Gifts can be sent as early as the wedding invitation arrives. Early, right?

The wedding has come and gone and you still haven’t sent a gift? No worries! Most resources say that you have one year after the wedding before you’re really out of etiquette code.  That said, one source says that you really only have three months — which may have more to do with you remembering to send the gift rather than the etiquette of gift giving!

Gifts & Cash: What should I give and how much should I spend?

All the good gifts from the registry are gone?! No problem! You are NOT obliged to give the couple something from the registry. In fact, we have some suggestions for alternatives to registry gifts. How much do you have to spend? Whatever your budget allows + how much you like the couple.

If you want (or the couple requests), you are permitted to give cash to the couple.  The amount? Whatever you’re comfortable with giving.  For cash gifts, check out these handy tips about the etiquette of cash gift giving.

Absence: If I can’t attend, do I still have to send something?

Contrary to popular belief, you are only obligated to send a congratulatory card if you can’t attend the wedding; you don’t have to send a gift. Despite this, many people feel obliged to send something — in part because it further shows your congratulations, support, happiness, and regret that you cannot attend.  

Looking for more info on gift giving — either as the couple or as guests? Check out our other tips on gift giving. And hey, why not consider giving the gift of a free premium photo album?

Do you have other etiquette tips you’d like to share?

~ Natasha