Manner Monday®: Wedding Gift Etiquette Q&A

Regional Gift Giving Differences

As seen on:

Q: “I have a wedding/shower question.  When I grew up in the Northeast it was standard to provide a gift at a wedding shower from their registry so they had something to open at the event.  Then if you attend the wedding it was customary to provide a cash gift.  I have noticed that is not always the case in Oklahoma City.  I don’t want to seem cheap, but I also don’t want to be over the top and “over” shower them with gifts. Thanks! “- Alexis

A: Various etiquette books dictate that if you did not attend the shower, you do not need to send a shower gift.  You can send one gift as the ‘wedding gift’. If you DO attend the shower, then yes, two gifts, one for the shower and one for the wedding. In Oklahoma, most people choose to send the wedding gift straight to the mailing address listed on the registry versus physically taking it to the wedding. So it may appear as though they’re going to the wedding ‘empty handed’ but yet the thought process is one of efficiency – saving the bridal party from the task of transporting gifts.  As to ‘what’ you choose to give for your wedding gift… well that’s where it gets tricky. As you mention, there are regional differences and many people may or may not be aware of those different cultural customs. As for the preferred type of wedding gift, Northeastern and Midwestern gift-givers are accustomed to bringing cash or a check. Those living in the South and West are more likely to buy a physical gift off the registry for the couple. If you choose to give cash, my favorite tip is to present it in a creative way such as placing it in a nice picture frame or pairing it with something small that will serve as a memento after the cash has long been spent.

Another custom that is the norm in some regions and shunned in others is the dollar dance. This is when guests pay a dollar (or more – I’ve seen hundred dollar bills come out) for a chance to dance with the bride or the groom. The person ‘paying’ dances for about 30 seconds, then the next purchaser cuts in.

I hope this helps to clarify the gift giving process for you from an Okie’s perspective.

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Thanks for reading!
Carey Sue


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