Gift List Etiquette

What to list, where to place it and when to open it


There is no obligation for a wedding guest to send the happy couple a gift, just as there is no obligation for the engaged couple to invite everyone who sent them a present to their wedding. It is usually considered polite though for those who sent gifts to at least be invited to the wedding reception.

Guests and well-wishers can send presents from the moment the wedding is announced, whether they find out through an invite, family member or public announcement, either in a paper or online. It is considered quite impolite to wait for an invite before you send a gift, especially if you are close to the couple.

In order to avoid receiving duplicate gifts, most couples will compile a gift list. You can make your very own gift list on for your guests to browse! The list should include a wide range of gifts from the expensive to the affordable, so there is something to suit every guest’s price range. A good way of making things easy and affordable is to specify a particular pattern or design of cutlery or china, so people can buy from a wide range of things, but they’ll still all match.

Bed linen is traditionally given by the parents of the bride. Traditionally, the gift list would consist of items for the new couple’s home, and would be something of use. For this reason, even if the couple have set up home and have all they need, it’s best to avoided gifts aimed to just one half of the couple, such as jewelry etc. If you really don’t know what to get them, money is usually a good idea as it can go towards a honeymoon or something else the couple is saving for.

If it is possible, gifts should be posted or delivered before the date of the wedding. If it can’t be posted before the wedding day, then it can be taken along to the wedding, but it is not customary for the bride and groom to open their gifts at the reception. Traditionally, they wait until after the honeymoon to open their presents.

In order to stay organized, it’s best for the bride to take note of each gift and who sent it as they arrive, to make it easier when it comes to writing thank you notes. All notes should be polite and never imply that they didn’t want or like the gift in question.

A gift table can be set up at the reception for guests to admire the presents, if the couple wishes to display them. If guests have sent too large a gift to display or have sent money, then a card should be shown on the table stating what the gift was and who it was from. For a gift of money, the amount should not be shown. Instead, it should read ‘cheque from Mr. & Mrs. ...’

See more on wedding gift lists.


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