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If you're not sure what to buy, whether to give cash instead of gift or how much is appropriate to spend, we have you covered.
Hana Abaza, the cofounder and CEO of weddingrepublic.com, knows firsthand that shopping for a wedding gift can be tricky. She offers five expert shopping tips to keep in mind when making a final selection.
1. Start with the wedding registry
If the couple has created a wedding registry start your shopping there. A registry is a no-fail option since it's a list of exactly what the couple wants and needs.
"While in some cases it might feel less thoughtful, studies have shown that gifts from the wedding registry are actually appreciated more than boxed gifts that are chosen by the guests," says Abaza.
2. Know when to shop off-registry
While buying a gift from a wedding registry is ideal, in some cases it just doesn't make sense. For example, if almost everything on the registry has already been purchased and the remaining gift options are out of your price range, you might want to consider an alternative, advises Abaza. "In this case, we recommend a cash gift, which in the vast majority of cases is preferred by the couple," she says.
3. Give the wedding couple something memorable
If you're unable to attend the event, you aren't obligated to send a gift, says Abaza. "Generally speaking you're not expected to give a gift if you aren't attending the wedding. However, if you choose to do so, be sure to choose something from the wedding registry," she advises. This way you're gifting the newlyweds with something memorable that they want, even though you couldn't be there with them on the day, she explains.
When in doubt, choose something with meaning. For example, if you and the bride often meet for tea and the couple is registered for a kettle, teapot or tea cups which are in your price range, that's a great choice, says Abaza. Package your selection with a special blend of tea for an added personal touch.
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4. Know when to buy and where to leave the wedding gift
"Traditional wedding registry etiquette states that you have up to one year following the wedding to give your gift, but we recommend making your purchase in the few days surrounding the wedding," says Abaza.
If you're making your purchase online, then shipping the gifts or transferring the funds (in the case of a cash wedding registry) is typically handled by the retailer or service provider. Just be mindful of timing to ensure that your gift is ready by the wedding date should you want to bring it with you to the event.
If you are bringing your gift, most weddings typically have a gift table where guests can leave boxed gifts, cards and cash gifts -- but be careful.
"Unfortunately the incidents of cash-stuffed envelopes getting stolen at weddings are higher than you would think," says Abaza. She suggests writing a cheque rather than leaving cash so it can be cancelled if needed.
5. Choose cash contributions wisely
While the industry average is between $100 and $150 per guest, how much you give really depends on several factors, including how close you are to the couple, whether or not you had to travel to get to the wedding and whether you're in the wedding party, says Abaza.
"A good general rule of thumb is that the gift should be enough to cover your place at the wedding," she says. If you are particularly close to the couple, you may want to give more, depending on your comfort level and financial situation.
If you're in the wedding party, whether or not you give a gift can be dependent on what the couple wants. "In some cases, the bride and groom will ask the bridal party not to give gifts as they've spent enough money on wedding events, attire, etc.," says Abaza. But if this is the case they'll make you aware of it – don't assume.
When it comes down to it, there isn't a right or wrong way to go about choosing a wedding gift. There are many circumstances and situations that will affect what you purchase and how much you ultimately decide to spend.
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