Monetary wedding gifts

 Question from Michelle G.  “Is there a guideline for the amount of money to give as a wedding gift?”Answer: Dear Michelle Wedding presents (of any kind) are tokens of esteem and affection meant to help the couple and wish them well in their new life together. Neither the bride, the groom, nor their families should request money be given as a gift.  Even more rude would be to stipulate an amount. Weddings are not fund raising events, nor should guests be presumed upon to help pay for a wedding or honeymoon.While most etiquette authorities think monetary gifts too impersonal and generally not in the best of taste, others allow for circumstances (i.e. long distances) that make money, as a gift, both useful and convenient. There are no right or wrong monetary amounts that may (or may not ) be properly given as a wedding gift. All presents, however, should be gratefully received and gladly given with care and appropriateness and without overwhelming the giver’s pocket book. Some people think a lavish wedding requires an extremely expensive or valuable gift. It does not. On the other hand, the miserly guest, whose middle name sounds like cheapskate, fails as a cheerful giver and falls short in the spirit of well wishing and generosity towards the wedding party who valued him enough to include his name on the select list of invitees.  A considerate guest NEVER attends a wedding ceremony and reception without sending (or bringing) a gift along with his written best wishes.A  few guidelines for monetary gift giving: 

  1. Don’t give more than you can afford.
  2. Are you a close friend or relative? In the US. monetary gifts, if given, usually come from relatives or very close friends. Sometimes, however, friends of the couple from an office or club, participate in a group gift where money is collected. Cash should never be given. Loose bills are hard to keep track of and too easily lost. Checks are the proper form to use.
  3. Will the money be useful to the couple? Would they rather have something more tangible, with your thoughtfulness behind it,  by which to remember your friendship?
  4. Consider giving a gift card rather than a check.
  5. Generally the check is addressed to the couple (so both must endorse it). When the check is given at the reception, it is presented to the groom, without fanfare. If sending money before the wedding, the check is delivered to the bride.
  6. The donor’s name is never revealed when gifts are displayed. Their name is discreetly covered. Gifts and checks of similar amounts are displayed together to avoid comparisons.
  7. Some ethnic traditions allow for a money tree or money dance where guests may “shower” the couple with reasonable amounts of cash.  All such goodwill gestures are appropriate when not excessive or mandatory.  Remember, here again the rule saying, “Do not give more than you can afford” takes the pressure off while joining in the fun.  These customs have the potential to embarrass some guests who may not have the funds to give and that’s why its best to not stipulate amounts or participation.

These are good rules. They keep us from hurting or embarrassing other people.  It has been said, and I agree, that “the excellence of a gift lies in its thoughtful appropriateness rather than in its value”.  This is why the widow, giving her only mite, was praised by Christ for her loving generosity. And, this explains why a carefully chose item, or special handmade piece, or carefully handwritten note expressing sincere best wishes on the wedding card, because of its thoughtfulness,  is often times more meaningful than a monetary gift.   Thanks for your question.  Protocol Matters!



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