Early Gifts Etiquette

What to Do About Gifts Before Your Wedding

In addition to talking to vendors, arranging seating lists, and hiring a band, there’s something else you’re going to have to deal with before the wedding—gifts! Many people send wedding gifts long before the day of your ceremony, and you’re also going to receive presents at the shower. It’s always a thrill to receive, so if you have any etiquette concerns, relax: We’ve got the answers wrapped up.

The main question involving early gifts is whether or not you can use them—let alone open them—before you get married. The answer is a resounding “yes.” Even if an emergency delays your wedding (an illness, new job), as long as you reschedule your ceremony there’s no need to return gifts. As such, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying early presents.

What’s more, many people who send you early gifts will be flattered. “If your best friend sends you an early gift of martini glasses, she’ll be thrilled to know you’re using them,” says Danielle Bobish, of Curtain Up Events in New York City.

According to Bobish, the only time that you might want to re-think opening early presents is if you know they’re for your new home, and the two of you won’t be moving in together until after the wedding. Since most of what you’ll be receiving is from a registry, chances are you’re going to know ahead of time if the gift is something you can use now or won’t need until after you get back from your honeymoon.

Handwritten thank-you notes are a must for all gifts. Do not send a thank-you via email or text. Bobish advises her clients to write thank-you notes within a week after they come in, even if it’s a month before your ceremony. “You’re going to forget otherwise,” says Bobish. “Also, you don’t want to get stuck writing a bunch of notes at once, and you don’t want people to wonder if you received the present.” If you can’t make that goal, try to send out thank-you notes within two weeks, a month at the latest.

When writing thank-yous, always mention the gift in question and try to write something about the present. If an uncle sends you a vase, tell him how great it looks in your home. If you receive a monetary gift, let the giver know that the two are putting it in your savings to help buy a new house.

And, by all means, if you received an absolutely stunning serving dish, bring it out when you invite the giver over for a pre-wedding dinner!

-David Toussaint

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