With wedding season upon us, our Ms. Modern Manners Sharon Schweitzer, JD is on the scene with how a wedding gift can make a world of difference.

Whether it’s a warm smile, positive attitude, dancing shoes, or a desire to have fun, wedding guests play a pivotal role in orchestrating the perfect wedding. Here, these five insights on U.S. American wedding culture serve as a useful guide for making your attendance a smooth and successful one.


Even if it’s the neighbor down the hall in your apartment, your niece’s cousin once removed, or your very best friend, a wedding gift is always expected. This is simply due to the nature of tradition. Marriage is a new adventure for the couple and a gift is a sign of well-wishing as they take their next steps together. Always work within your means, and strive to put your best guest foot forward by looking at the wedding registry to find a thoughtful and useful gift for the newlyweds.


Wedding gifts vary greatly depending on your relationship with the soon-to-be-spouses. Research reveals the following spending trends, based on the relationship with the recipients:

  • Family member $127
  • Boss or supervisor $115
  • Colleague or co-worker $63
  • Friend $99

Of course, selecting a wedding gift is a personal choice and these numbers are provided only as a general guideline.

For those in the wedding party who have already spent a considerable amount on the event, consider combining contributions for a group gift. This can lighten the financial burden while still giving the couple something they’ll adore. If other groomsmen or bridesmaids don’t wish to contribute to a group gift, consider buying one of the moderately priced registry items. Add a sentimental touch with a handwritten note, or by personalizing the item with their last name or initials.


Destination weddings pose many questions to attendees; when do I ship my gift to the couple? How soon do I order an online gift? Do I need to buy an expensive gift? Be sure the registry offers direct shipping to the couple’s home, not the destination wedding site. They don’t want to pack gifts on a plane and neither do you.

Couples also understand that guests must plan, save, and prepare to attend destination weddings. The couple knows greater travel expenses are included and they are more understanding with regard to presents. Rather than settle for a less special present, consider sending your gift early, well before the wedding ceremony, or just after the nuptials. This will allow for more time to save. Etiquette experts agree up to six months after the wedding is still an acceptable time for gift giving. This way you can save for the wedding, and share a meaningful gift with the happy couple.


Express your genuine care and be creative, personal, and use registries to buy gifts that the happy couple registered for and ill use throughout their married life. If it’s important to stay within your personal budget, plan so you can express your affection for the couple with a beautiful gift… and enjoy their wedding celebration without breaking the bank.

Studies show that couples most enjoy gifts from their registry; in fact, registry gifts are often preferred over cash, honeymoon support, and gift cards. If you would like to select your own gift, pair it with something from their registry for a combination gift they will undoubtedly adore.

All weddings come with a price tag; not only for the spouses-to-be in organizing it, but the wedding guests as well. Whether it’s a destination wedding or local affair, you’ll feel great when you find the perfectly special and meaningful gift for the couple. Utilize these guidelines, and the couple’s registry, to make the perfect contribution to a beautiful event.