Real Life

Wedding day hints and tips

By Andrew McNulty

When I got married 20 years ago, wedding registries were still relatively new. We chose The Little Gallery in Invercargill for ours and still treasure the lovely gifts we received. In fact, a glorious pink ourano vase from our dear friends Heather and Noel still has pride of place to this day. Whether you're a guest or a recipient, read on for useful tips on wedding gift etiquette.

A cash injection

Sometimes couples ask for money in lieu of gifts. Perhaps they have lived together for some time and have no need for new homeware. Deciding on an amount can be difficult, but $100 seems to be generally about right - unless you have a very close relationship with the couple.

offering choices

If you choose to have a registry, be sure to include items in all price ranges to help avoid embarrassment for guests. Be aware that some people will prefer not to buy this way and even if they give you something you'd never have chosen yourself, you must appear grateful.

Money matters

The issue of asking for cash is vexed. Some etiquette experts insist that a couple should never do this or, if they must, it should only be by word of mouth. However, as the practice becomes more common, resourceful brides and grooms have found discreet ways of incorporating their request into the invitation - without appearing grasping. A recently married bride told me guests even transferred money directly into her account.

Giving thanks

There is nothing more unforgivable than sending thank you cards to guests many months after a wedding or - heaven forbid - not at all. In this internet age, newlyweds may wonder why a simple email won't suffice but this is a matter of tradition and manners - a handwritten card is still best. Being invited to somebody's wedding is a great honour, and it's nice to bring an appropriate gift on the big day.

How much?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no set amount that should be spent. Especially now, in recessionary times, no bride or groom will expect their guests to over-extend themselves.

Registry or not?

If money is an issue, you can "freestyle" rather than buy from a registry. Homeware can be found at sales and the happy couple will be none the wiser. The difficulty with a registry, for guests, is when everything in your price range is already taken. In this case "freestyling" is preferable.

Guide for the happy couple

Don't forget to buy gifts for your attendants, ushers and anyone else who has contributed on the big day.Remember, it's more important to give a thoughtful gift than an expensive one.

Make your thank you notes warm, but not gushing. If you oversell the virtues of a particular gift, the donor may end up suspecting you actually don't like it!

Be security conscious and also ensure that your gifts are covered by insurance. It's rare, but occasionally a home is burgled during a wedding reception and this can really spoil the happy day

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