Do You Really Have A Year To Send A Wedding Gift?

Illustrated by Emily Zirimis.
Dear Alimay, I’ve got a number of weddings coming up on my calendar and a handful that I’ve recently attended, which adds up to a whole lot of gifts. And, I realize I don’t have a good grasp on the protocol…do I actually have a year to send the newlyweds something without feeling like a jerk? Am I supposed to bring a gift to the wedding or is that a faux pas? And, what about registries? What if I want to get them something more sentimental than what any ol’ guest can choose from? I’m also going to the wedding of a couple who requested no gifts…do they really mean it? Please help!
Presently Confused
Dear Presently Confused,
Knowing the proper way to give a gift can get all kinds of confusing, especially when you’re juggling a bunch of different wedding invites. We’ve got thoughts on the matter, and we also checked in with the experts at Zola Wedding Registry since they eat, sleep, and breathe big day gifting, to get a second opinion.

Waiting To Gift
Luckily for you, the old adage holds true — it’s not out of the ordinary for gifts to be given up to a year after the nuptials. BUT, in this day and age, when you can send a present with one click, we say just do it. “We actually don't see the one-year rule going anywhere,” says Neha Leela, Zola’s brand director. “That said, we see the majority of guests give gifts within a three-month window from the wedding day because it's top of mind.” Aim for that time frame as it’s nicer for the couple to get your gift on the front-end, and let’s be real, after too much time goes by, you’re likely to forget it altogether, anyway.

Presenting Your Present
Unless you’re giving the bride and groom cash or a check in a card (a totally okay gift), don’t bring a present to their big day. They have enough to think about at the end of the night without worrying how to get a stack of gifts home; plus, it saves you the headache of transporting the dang thing when you’re all dolled up. You can always send your gift beforehand too — there’s no rule that says you have to wait till they’re legal (unless you’re worried about them actually making it legal).


Following The Registry
As far as buying something from a couple’s registry goes, we highly recommend it. If they put it on their registry, it’s something they want, whether you want to give it or not. If you are going to go rogue, make sure you do so only for a couple whose tastes you know incredibly well (and make sure it’s returnable) or go for something experiential that they will totally love doing.

If you’re late to the game and their registry is all bought up, choose something that will complement the items that were on it. Leela agrees: “It's the best option for both the couple and the guest to stick to what the couple asked for, but if you choose to go off-registry, then make sure you're not buying something you want but something you believe the couple will really appreciate,” she continues. “Be sensitive to their space constraints (avoid the massive wine fridge for the studio dwellers!), their aesthetic (preppy pillows are not the best for your hipster cousin), and their interests (dinner gift certificates to the foodie couple, absolutely!). Check out their Pinterest boards or Instagram accounts for a hint of what their style and favorite places or activities are. Also, make sure to include the receipt so the couple can return it if they want, and don't be insulted if they do!”

Honoring A Specific Request
And, as for that couple that requested no presents? As weird as it may feel, it’s best to comply. They did it for a reason, and you should honor that.

Leela suggests a couple of wedding gift-giving rules of thumb to keep in mind: “Go in with a budget that feels comfortable to you, and don't feel pressured to exceed it. Don't be shy to share the gift-giving task with friends. And finally, even though you're buying a gift online, don't forget to write a note. The extra minute of jotting down some love, a memory, or a wish will make sure your gift is not quickly forgotten.”

More from Living

R29 Original Series