There are many divided camps when it comes to gift-giving etiquette. Trying to research what is appropriate or inappropriate can be a nightmare, with one article telling you it is presumptuous even to dare include a registry in your invitations while another says requesting cash-only is perfectly fine. When it comes to etiquette, there are many schools of thought, both generational and cultural, that can influence the decisions you make for your own wedding.
The first thing to understand about wedding etiquette is that you cannot possibly please everyone. Some people will hold dear to their copies of The Bride’s Book of Etiquette from the 1940s and insist upon following antiquated guidelines like they are the law. Other people may not understand or respect the etiquette of a culture that is not their own (intentional or accidental). There are some hard rules when it comes to wedding etiquette – do not wear a white dress (or whatever colour the bride is wearing), do not bring an uninvited guest, do not overindulge at the open bar and embarrass yourself (and everyone around you!). Otherwise, there is a lot more freedom for modern brides and grooms to establish their own rules.
Generally, when it comes to asking for specific wedding gifts, creating registries, and giving any instructions to your guests, just be mindful. Some people feel that requesting cash-only is greedy when in reality a lot of couples do not want or need (and often already have) dishes, towels, and other common registry items. Many people who ask for cash are planning to use it for a down payment on their home, renovations, their honeymoon, or even to save it for their future children. If you have everything you need and would prefer to receive cash that is fine. If you are worried about any pushback, a great way to mitigate this is to offer guests the opportunity to donate to a charity in your name instead of giving you a gift.
Registries are always a great option. The only time where you may start to step on etiquette toes is if all your registry items are considered “unaffordable.” One of the best parts of having a registry (other than the fun of getting to plan your future home) is that you can select a large array of items in many price ranges. Some guests (especially grandparents) will want to get you “big ticket” items, while others may not be able to afford something large but still want to get you a gift. A registry that has a good range of items enables people to shop within their financial comfort zone. If you have always dreamed of a Tiffany wedding registry, then it is advisable to do two registries or to use a website registry tool that allows you to mix and match from different stores. That way you can make your dream registry at Tiffany’s and a supplementary registry at somewhere more affordable to help accommodate everyone
So, what about sending out registry and gift information in the invites? A lot of people will tell you this is a huge faux pas because it implies that a gift is mandatory to attend the service. The argument for it is that most registries give you handy cards to include in your invitations so that guests know where to go without having ask. We would say, err on the side of caution and do not include any information about your registry or gift preferences in the invitation. Registry and gift information can be given word-of-mouth. What you can include in your invites is a little note with a link to your wedding website! You can write to your guests “For information on the venue, accommodations, and to meet our bridal party, go to our wedding website at – .” On the website, include a page with links to your registry or your preferences for gifts. You can also include links to charities that you would like them to donate to in your name, in place of a gift. Three wonderful charities that we cannot recommend enough are Shania Kids Can (shaniakidscan.com), FINCA Canada (fincacanada.org), and Worldwide Orphans (wwo.org).
Founded by Shania Twain, Shania Kids Can aims to help children succeed with educational, nutritional, therapeutic, and other various supports. FINCA Canada work to alleviate poverty by helping people, especially women, to build long-term assets, create jobs, and help them elevate their standard of living. Worldwide Orphans works to transform the lives of children and their communities, globally. They provide medical care, education, and psycho-social support to help children become thriving adults.
You may accidentally (or purposefully) break etiquette rules on your wedding day, but these guidelines are of simply made to help people be conscious and kind to others. You can not please everyone (who doesn’t have that relative), but if you follow our tips, you should be able to please most.
by Kate Eadie