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Wedding Gift Etiquette -- Important Dos and Don'ts

Mar 17, 2008
For persons with a large circle of friends, wedding presents may become something of a tax, but everyone naturally wishes to reciprocate the courtesy of an invitation by sending the bride a gift. The cost will depend on the circumstances of the donor, and the degree of intimacy. If the engagement is a short one, close friends often forward gifts as soon as the announcement is made, but the majority sends presents when accepting or declining the invitation.

Giving A Shower:

In America there is a pleasant custom called "giving a shower" for the bride-to-be, by her friends. One friend gives a tea party and asks everyone to bring something for say a "kitchen shower". Each friend brings some useful thing to stock a kitchen.

This is a custom which might well be cultivated here, being available to everyone's purse, most helpful to the bride, and capable of many variations.

Glassware, table silver, china, cutlery and household linen, and such books as Mrs. Beeton's HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT, all offer a wide variety for the choice of wedding gifts. Glassware and china being fragile, the bride should aim to have two sets of each - one for everyday and one for best. If a gift set is particularly good it should be kept for best, and the bridal couple can buy a cheap set for daily use, or if they are lucky enough to receive two sets they can keep the better set in reserve.

The bride is often given an opportunity nowadays of choosing her own pattern or design, or even of selecting the present.

In such instances she should take care to choose an article which the donor can afford to buy. Indeed, some couples now make a list of articles they would like and show it to friends who wish to give a present. This certainly prevents any irritating duplication of gifts.

If the prospective bride has a say in the choice of pattern, she should be careful to select one that can be easily replaced or added to.

Display of Presents

Either a day or two before the ceremony, at home, or at the reception, the presents should be attractively displayed, with cards attached. If displayed before the ceremony, intimate friends are invited to view them at tea.

If a large number of wedding gifts are received, a room or rooms should be set aside for their display. The gifts should be laid out on card or trestle tables, covered with tablecloths, and placed around the sides and down the centre of the room.

Gifts should be grouped together: silverware, china, glassware, cooking vessels, trays, linen, etc., each on a separate table.

Where gifts are duplicated, or vary in quality, they should not be put together.

In some cases a list of presents is displayed at the reception (in which case the bride must be most careful to list all presents on arrival in order that none should be omitted from the reception list). The list is displayed in place of the gifts themselves.

Cheques should not be displayed, nor should the amount be disclosed.

Acknowledging Your Gifts

It is advisable to write a note of thanks for wedding gifts as soon as possible after receipt:

"Thank you so much for the lovely present you sent me". If a large number of gifts are received, the bride-to-be sends out a printed card thanking the donor, and promising to write as soon as possible. She may then reply individually at her leisure after the honeymoon.

The note of acknowledgment should be written with care: the bride must remember that the friends who have sent her wedding gifts have made real sacrifices, and in thanking them she should try to say how their particular gift will fit into her home.

If the number of gifts received is very considerable, the bride's mother may assist in drafting the replies.

If the above guidelines are followed, the receiving of gifts will indeed be a joy and not a tax
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