Wedding Gift Etiquette FAQs


My daughter will be getting married in September, in Maine. She lives in New York. It is the first wedding. I have sent a couple of checks and will pay more at/for the reception. What is appropriate for a wedding gift from me? I have divorced the bride’s mother.

I take it that your daughter is either still living with her mother, or at least lives closer to mom, and perhaps a significant other. You are the birth dad, and it is good that you are making an honest attempt to take part in sponsoring the wedding. Traditionally the birth parents of the bride help pay for most of the wedding, and reception. Today many engaged couples are taking on the bulk of the expenses. The groom’s parents are not free of helping out a little either, but that’s another subject matter. Your sponsorship is ultimately your gift, but one that unfortunately if not given would make you look bad to certain friends and family. Therefore it doesn’t have the appearance of a gift, but rather a “huge bill”. Do it with love to the best of your ability, and don’t act as if you’re not happy about it. Give your daughter a huge hug at the end of the wedding day, tell her she’s breathtakingly beautiful, and tell her how much you love her. Shake her new husband’s hand and welcome him to the family. Anything given beyond that is out of the kindness of your heart and generosity. If you must give them something because you wish to,  consider give them a gift certificate for dining out at their favorite restaurant. Another idea is that you could give them a little extra spending money for their honeymoon ($50.00?). Don’t feel obligated however to do so. Good luck.

If you have given a gift at the shower, is it necessary to give one at the wedding?

Hello, The shower and the wedding are both two separate events, and therefore the tradition of gift giving applies to both events. Since this gift giving tradition is always optional to participate in, you should consider the impression it might leave should you not give even the tiniest, most simple gift. The bride and groom spend money on their guests, often in the form of food at the reception, and on entertainment. If you take on the perspective that gift giving is a dual gesture, then this should help you decide whether or not to give a gift at any given event you are invited to.

I recently received an invitation to an “introduction and reception” for a coworker and his new bride. I am not planning on attending, but would like to do the right thing. I have been given the option of RSVPing by email, and I can handle that, but do you know if I am obligated to send a gift? If so, to whom do I give the gift?

Hello, You would give the gift to the couple (not one of them individually). No you are not obligated to send a gift at all. If however you really want to send a gift by all means do so.

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