The Essential Guide to Buying Wedding Gifts

Is cash better than a gift? How much should you spend? Here, answers to your most common wedding gift conundrums.

Photo by James Merrell

Q: Is it okay to veer off the registry and, if so, what should I choose instead?
A: It’s absolutely fine. “Registry items are merely suggestions, not obligations,” says Jodi R. R. Smith, owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. A registry is meant to be a guideline as to what the couple wants and needs. If you decide to purchase something else, it’s a good idea to check out the registry to gauge the couple’s style.
Q: How long do I really have to give a gift after the wedding? 
A: One year. Ideally, however, gifts should be shipped to the home of the couple two weeks before the wedding, says Smith. If you end up buying the gift after the wedding, try to do so immediately. “Otherwise,” warns Smith, “you’re likely to end up procrastinating, forgetting, and then wondering five years later why you’re no longer friends.”
Q: Is cash better than a gift? 
A: Not necessarily, but it can be tricky. “It is not my favorite gift because there’s no correct amount to give,” says Rebecca Black, founder of Etiquette Now, a company that conducts etiquette workshops. “An amount may appear generous to one couple, while the same amount could appear lacking to another.” If you’re uncomfortable about giving cash, opt for a gift certificate to a store at which the couple’s registered.