We at Luxist
want you to be prepared and properly educated for all situations. Summer wedding season is nigh, so here is our guide to wedding gifts, created with the help of NYC Lifestyle Concierge Lora Chio, a personal shopper to the Manhattan elite. Lora answered all our etiquette questions and gave us some great ideas -- tips for brides and grooms getting ready to register, too!
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.
L: When it is okay to get a gift that's not on the registry?
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:
LC: Actually, I have two more.