Luxist: If you can't make the wedding, do you still have to send a gift?
Lora Chio: If you get an invitation, you have to send a gift. Yup. This means that if you don't know the bride, but she invites you to her shower, you need to send a gift (regardless of whether or not you attend; regardless of whether or not she knows your name).
L: Is sending money ever okay? How much should you send?
LC: The unspoken rule of thumb for giving cash is to basically pay for your plates. For example, if you are at a wedding where you believe the reception rings in at $100 per head, and you were allowed to bring a date, you should give $200. That's just a starting point -- many other considerations should be made before you decide on a dollar amount:
- How close are you with the couple? Very? Give a little more.
- Did they give you money at your wedding? If yes, you should give the same amount (or $1 more, just to be clever).
- Did you have to travel for the wedding (and therefore pay for a hotel, a rental car, plane tickets, etc.)? Feel free to knock the dollar amount back a little -- you've already done a lot to be there for the special day.
LC: Buying off-registry is totally acceptable if you feel like you know the bride or groom well enough to give them something they will love. Registries were designed to give a newly married couple a little boost -- a starter kit, if you will. While registering for gifts is very exciting (you get to point a gun at stuff!), many trigger-happy couples regret having to keep half of Bloomingdale's in their storage units because their 700 sq ft apartment doesn't have room for soft-boiled egg cups.
L: What's a good example of an appropriate off-registry gift?
LC: The key to success with a rogue gift (i.e. not on the registry) is having an alternative that you are sure the couple will love. I like to do personalized gift baskets with lots of little things that will make the recipient happy. Ten years ago, before sushi was in corner delis, I sent a friend a home sushi set because she loved sushi -- I wrapped each individual piece as a gift and put them all in a big glass floor vase. She loved being able to open 35 little gifts.
L: Since you often shop for other people, you don't always know the bride and groom. Are there any safe bets for good wedding gifts -- even for people you don't know?
LC: Safe bets for good wedding gifts are often consumable -- something that can be used up and help create a experience for the couple long after the circus has left town. Everyone loves getting nice wine, tickets to a great show, gift certificates for fancy dinners, but if you want to give a tangible present, here are some of my favorite things to give and get:
Gallery: Recommended Wedding Gifts
LC: Actually, I have two more.