Wedding Etiquette questions have just come up from one of my upcoming weddings. I would like to suggest some of the options regarding engagement parties and gifts. The current wedding trends have changed so that nothing is set in stone. Couples should tailor their event and ceremonious parties leading up to the wedding to exude their style and be designed within their budget. The celebrations should showcase the personalities and taste of the bride and groom.
First the engagement party:
To follow traditional etiquette, anyone invited to an engagement party “should” be invited to the wedding. If the wedding ceremony is being planned for immediate family/very close friends, it is perfectly OK to extend the invitation for the reception and not the ceremony. If the bride and groom live out of town and the parents are considering an engagement party to introduce the couple to their friends but are hosting a small wedding or possibly a destination wedding, the best option is to host an introduction celebration “after” the wedding. This party date can be set and an engagement announcement sent with a “save the date” message for the “meet the bride/groom” party. This party can be held anytime up to a year following the wedding and can be much more casual than a wedding reception. The invitation to this gathering should state “no gifts” as a courtesy. Most friends coming to the party will bring cards with money or even a gift if they did not send one to the house before the wedding “IF” they want, but they should not feel obligated for a gift if they are not invited to the wedding reception.
This is a good time to discuss appropriate wedding gifts. The “rule of thumb” is that your gift should (if you can afford it) be the value of the reception i.e. meal, bar, etc. for you and your spouse, date, or guest. If the reception meal hosted was $50 a plate and there was an open bar that you and a guest attended, the gift should be $100 to $150. It is also best to send the gift before the wedding to the home of either the bride or the bride’s parents. Many stores will ship wedding gifts for free if the couple is registered at the store. If your budget is struggling and you can’t afford the price of the typical gift, get creative! Put some thought into designing a cookbook of family favorite recipes along with a small kitchen item. A small antique or contemporary piece that would suit the taste of the bride and groom or an inexpensive piece of art work from a local artist is always a good choice. Blow up pictures of you and the bride or groom when you were kids/on a trip together/at a sporting event. Make a photo book or collage if you have enough pictures. Offer coupons for “date night” after the wedding with movie tickets, a picnic at your house, car wash coupons or a $25 gift card to a favorite chain restaurant. Give a calendar with breakfast once a month noted on dates and a card saying “be our guest”. Give cheap tickets to a local sporting event. Purchase a blanket (can be found at a thrift store) and picnic basket with paper plates, snacks, bottled water, paperback of poetry for a summer afternoon. Assorted stationery and cards with the newlyweds initials/monogram is a thoughtful gift. If the bride and groom are moving to a new address, packets of new address cards are a forgotten item and a great gift.
Stay tuned for more suggestions regarding shower etiquette, and other wedding tips.