A Guide to Gift Giving

by Jenny Bryde 12. September 2009 02:17

This post is for anyone who will be giving and/or receiving gifts in the near future...so that would include brides, grooms, family members, wedding party members, guests, cats, dogs, and Santa.  Okay everyone can read this post...

I'd like to chat about gifts today.  It's pretty much common knowledge that at a wedding, guests bring gifts, and they are treated to a time period of some festivities, foods, and drinks as well as being witnesses to the union of the couple.  But outside of the wedding, when is gift giving appropriate, required, not necessary, etc?

There are a lot of events that lead up to a wedding: engagement parties, wedding showers, bachelor/ette parties, bridal luncheons, rehearsal dinners, and the list goes on.  Certainly it would be unreasonable for a bride and groom to expect gifts from everyone at each of these events.  So where do we draw the line on gifts?  

The first thing we should all know is that there is never a time when gifts are required.  It is not as if a guest would be denied entry to a wedding should he or she show up empty handed.  That is unless you are a couple being featured on Bridezillas...

Let's break it down, shall we?

Engagement Parties - Often engagement parties are a surprise to guests as the couple might announce their engagement on the spot.  Even if the intent of the party is known ahead of time, gift giving is not manditory.  At this particular event, should gifts be brought, the couple would not open them during the party as to not make a guest who did not bring a gift feel uncomfortable.  

Wedding Showers - As the original wedding shower was thought to be for a couple that was deeply in love but could not afford to be married thus the friends "showered" them with gifts, a guest here may feel more obligated to bring a gift.  Usually a theme or a registry is known at the time of a shower so that guests can have ideas of what to bring.  Again, gift giving is not mandatory, but a guest would most certainly feel left out in that most guests are bringing a gift at this point and often the gift opening is an event during the party itself.  There is a lot of talk about if a guest brings a gift to a shower, should they bring a gift to the wedding as well?  (I believe that this is a matter of opinion, and it often depends on the relationship between the guest and the couple.  Again, no guest should ever feel pressured to bring a gift!)

Bachelor/ette Parties - Generally speaking, gifts are not brought for the bride or the groom on their respective parties.  The bachelor/ette party is more of a social gathering where the gift is the guests' presence (not to be confused with presents!).  

Bridal Luncheon - This optional gathering is an opportunity for a bride and her bridesmaids and other important women in her life to gather and socialize.  A bride may choose to give gifts to the guests at this event. 

Rehearsal Dinner - Being a member of a wedding party can be very time consuming and possibly expensive.  At the rehearsal dinner, it is customary for the bride and groom to thank each member of their wedding party and to give them a gift of thanks.  The gift could be something that will be worn or used on the wedding day or something completely unrelated to weddings.  The gifts could be given before hand or later as well.  

Wedding Day - Of all the events that are involved in the wedding, the actual wedding date is usally thought of a time when a guest feels obligated to bring a gift.  The bride and groom will have often planned to give some sort of small favor to each of their guests as a token of thanks for attending the wedding, and guests often bring a gift or send a gift to the couple in celebration of the day.  Ettiquette says that gifts can be delivered to the bride and groom within a year of the wedding date. 

So gift-givers and gift-receivers, what do you think?  Tell us about your unique gift situations coming up, and let's figure out what to do!


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Ettiquette | Jenny Bryde

Including Coworkers

by Jenny Bryde 22. August 2009 03:22

All of us have different work situations.  Some of us work in huge offices with many people, others in small groups, some even from a home office.  Some of us truely enjoy our coworkers, and others consider them to be mere aquaintences.  

Where do you draw the line when deciding to invite coworkers?  This has really been something with which I have struggled.

The-Office-Cast-Full-Photo-smaller.jpg office image by Sean521


I work with a staff of about 65 people.  The vast majority are married, and most have children as well.  I have worked on committees and projects with many of them and consider them people that I truely enjoy.  I rarely hang out with any of them outside of work.  They love to ask questions about my wedding planning and love to offer advice about various aspects.  

Our guest list is going to be capped at about 120 people.  At this point, that does not include coworkers.  I made a mental note just now, and if I were to add co-workers to the mix, there would be about 15 people (plus spouses) that would be added to our guest list.  

So do I do it?  Do I take the plunge and invite the 30+ coworker related people?  Do I invite them only to the after dinner portion of the wedding?  Do I just make it known that our wedding will be smaller and that I won't be able to invite anyone but family and close friends?

What do you think, ladies and gents?  I'd love some advice here and to hear about how others have dealt with inviting coworkers.   Thanks!


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Ettiquette | Jenny Bryde

Guest List Woes

by Jenny Bryde 24. June 2009 04:30

There are not many decisions that can leave an engaged couple with more stress than the guest list which definitely takes on it's own personality.  It can remind someone that they are important to you.  It can also hurt feelings of those it does not encompass.  It can be liberal and welcoming to all, or it can be exclusive and selective.  It really can become a nasty task when we get down to the nitty-gritty of the guest list.    

Each couple's "must haves" list will be different.  Some couples are close to only their immediate family.  Some couples have an enormous extended family that must be invited.  Some weigh their friends more importantly than their third cousins twice removed.  Sometimes parents have huge lists of must-have invitees that dwarf the list coming from the bride and groom.  

Each couple's budget will be different.  Sometimes a couple is lucky enough to be able to afford as many heads as they wish while other couples cannot.  Some would rather spend more money per person with a smaller group rather than finding the more cost-effective menu options for more people.  

Each couple's venue will be different.  Regardless of VIP lists and budgeting, sometimes a venue can only hold so many faces.  How does a couple decide between college friends and co-workers?  And even if the must-have lists fit the budgeting and space requirements, a couple must decide what size of a wedding they wish to have.  There is a huge difference between a wedding reception that is planned for three hundred people versus thirty, and each couple will desire a wedding that suits their personalities and comforts.  

With so many issues to weigh, we ask ourselves: how do we get started???

First, let's take a look at the total budget.  Usually, food and drink costs take up about half of your total wedding budget.  If an imaginary couple's budget is $20,000, for example, they will probably spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 on food and drink.  

If you know your venue and caterer costs per head already, divide that into the food and drink budget.  If the imaginary venue for the imaginary couple was going to charge $50 per head for food, drink, taxes, and gratuities, then the guest list can accommodate 200 people.  The price per head will be depend on your venue costs and meal options.  

Find out your venue's capacity.  Even if the imaginary couple can afford to invite 200 people, their venue may bust at the seams with more than 160 guests present.  Some couples can make their guest lists work with a smaller venue while others may wish to search for a location that can accommodate a larger guest list. 

Next, divide the head count amongst the bride's parents, groom's parents, bride, and groom.  This will vary from couple to couple due to financial contributions and size of families.  Each couple will need to sit down and have a discussion about how this will unfold. If the imaginary couple is going to divide equally amongst everyone, then the bride's parents, groom's parents, bride, and groom will each get to invite 40 people. 

If the imaginary bride now has 40 guests that she can invite, she must prioritize amongst her family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and the mailman.  Clearly her best friend since first grade will have a higher priority than the mail man, so the bride needs to split her list of people into groups that must be at the wedding (the A's), people she' really wants to invite (the B's), and those that she'd like to invite if there is room after the A's and B's are invited (the C's).  Ranking your loved ones is not the most pleasant task, but keep in mind that it helps you to stay organized, and no one will ever know which letter you gave them!  

Other thing to keep in mind:  

Etiquette says that if someone is married or in a long-term relationship, you should invite their significant other.  This does not necessarily include Cousin Becky who has a new boyfriend every week.  Keep those "plus ones" in mind when you are adding up your guests.  On the same note, you must decide as a couple if you are going to invite the children of your guests.  This can be a touchy subject as the addition of children to a guest list can make the total count skyrocket, and the elimination of children from the guest list might leave some guests having to find a babysitter or possibly be insulted.  Whatever you as a couple decide, be sure that you are consistent with all of your guests.  

People can be rude.  (It happens.)  People will directly ask you if they are invited to the wedding, or sometimes they even assume that they are and will ask you if they can bring someone before you've even finalized your guest list.  Have back up comments for these situations such as, "We aren't sure yet how many people we can invite." or "We both have large families, so we aren't able to invite many friends." or (my favorite) "We are eloping."  

Ten to twenty percent of your invited guests will not come to your wedding for various reasons.  Usually you are safe in inviting about 10% more than what you hope to have as a total guest count on the day of your wedding. 

I hope this (wordy) article helps to alleviate some of those guest list woes.  Is there anything else in the guest list department that you are wondering about?  Do you have some additional guest list advice for engaged couples?  Feel free to leave a comment!  


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Ettiquette | Jenny Bryde

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About the Blog

Hi!  Welcome to the QCWeddings.com blog!  My name is Jenny, and I am a Quad Cities bride to be.  Our goal for this blog is to share information on all things wedding including local vendors, new trends, and amazing inspiration.  Let us know if there is something you'd like to see on here!  

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