Do I Have to Buy a Wedding Shower Gift and a Wedding Gift?

It's a common question and the answer isn't always straightforward. Here's everything you need to know about wedding gifts and wedding shower gifts.

By Deanna deBara

wedding shower gift
Photo by Zola

It’s always exciting to get invited to a wedding. Someone you love is getting married and they want you there to celebrate. If you’re particularly close with the couple, you may get a few more invitations along the way to various pre-wedding events, including the wedding shower. You’re probably prepared to buy a wedding gift off the couple’s registry, but what about a wedding shower gift? You might be wondering if you even need to buy both. Gift etiquette isn’t always straightforward. Let’s break it down.

Do I need to buy a gift for the shower and the wedding?

In short: Yes. We definitely recommend purchasing a gift for both the wedding and the wedding shower. That’s the simplest way to layout the basic gift etiquette. However, there are a few stipulations such as price, size, and more that come with that advice.

INLINE PhotobyStarNoirPhotography Photo Credit // Star Noir Photography

Wedding Shower Gifts vs. Wedding Gifts

Not all gifts are created equal—or at least they don’t have to present as if they are. Yes, you should purchase both a wedding gift and a wedding shower gift, but they don’t have to be of equal value. In fact, you can (and should) feel free to spend less on a shower gift than you do on a wedding present.

Traditional wedding etiquette says that your wedding gift should cover the cost of your meal and drinks at the wedding—which can fall somewhere between $50 and $200. It’s a big range, but all weddings are different so you’ll know best where your gift should fit into that. Typically, you’ll select something from the couple’s registry anyway, which makes the whole wedding gift situation pretty straightforward.

As far as a wedding shower gift goes, the same rules do not apply. Giving a gift in the $25-$75 price range is completely acceptable. If it’s your best friend since childhood’s shower and you want to spoil her/him, by all means, go for it. Just know that you don’t have to.

Should I buy the wedding shower gifts and wedding gifts off the registry?

Simply put: You should buy your wedding gift off the couple’s wedding registry. These are the gifts they specifically chose because they want or need them. So, definitely choose from there for the wedding gift.

Additionally, you can buy the wedding shower gift from that same registry. And why wouldn’t you? Here’s a selection of gifts that you know the couple will be happy to receive. If you can find something in your budget, it’s a win-win.

If you’re particularly close with the host or couple (or you can’t find anything on the registry within your budget), it’s OK to stray from the registry. Your wedding shower gift can be a great opportunity to give something a little more sentimental and personal. Is the bride a bit of a product junkie? Get her a monogrammed makeup bag to hold her wedding day makeup. Does the couple love to try new wines? Try a wine subscription box. Is a dog or cat the center of their lives? Gift a custom pet portrait.

The point is if you decide to shop for your own wedding shower gift, make sure it’s something he or she will love.

INLINE PhotobyProcopioPhotography Photo Credit // Procopio Photography

Should I show up with my gifts or send them directly?

The etiquette fun continues! When it comes to delivery, wedding shower gifts and wedding gifts also have a different set of rules.

  • For wedding gifts, it probably makes more sense to send your gift directly to the couple via their registry. There are a few reasons for this. First, the couple has a lot going on. Tracking and transporting their gifts isn’t a task you necessarily want to contribute to. Also, couples with Zola wedding registries can actually choose when their wedding gifts are shipped to them. This control allows couples the freedom to tackle their wedding gifts (and thank you notes!) when they’re ready.

  • For a wedding shower, it’s up to you! Typically, these showers have gift-opening moments so, if you’d prefer to be involved in that, definitely show up gift in hand.

Of course, there are exceptions. If the shower is taking place in a city where the host or couple doesn’t currently live (a hometown, for example), he or she may ask that any shower gifts be sent to a certain address to avoid traveling with them. If the couple is hosting a super intimate wedding, you may, in that case, prefer to show up with your physical gift instead of sending it directly.

You’ll know what’s best for each individual situation. Generally, though, plan to arrive at the wedding shower with your gift and plan to send your wedding gift in the mail.

The bottom line: Get both gifts. You don’t need to break the bank in order to give something the couple will truly appreciate.

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