I’ve found myself standing with friends when another friend got engaged. Typically, I had a dumb grin on my face after saying “Congratulations” because I wasn't able to come up with anything that they haven’t heard yet and no way to make myself come across with a bit more grace.
Hrm, and then what do you say? If your friend is of the “jump-up-and-down-and-squeal” variety, you may want to indulge yourself for a few minutes… then insert a pause and do it again. Oh, you’re not a squealer?
My Friend Got Engaged – And I Have No Idea What to Say or Do
Well then, I suppose you may want to pick from some of these ideas, to congratulate your newly engaged friend.
- You can wax philosophical for a little bit and tell them how legitimately happy you are that they are happy.
- You can and should send them a congratulatory card in the mail.
- Keep your feelings genuine and happy. If you truly do not care for their newly-intended, hold your tongue for now and consider wisely your course of action, after the initial buzz has worn off for your friend. After you’ve said congrats, you can list very specific ways that you can help.
“Congratulations on Your Engagement” + Other Things to Say (and Do!)
Here are some ideas:
- Offer to put out of town guests up at your house.
- Help host an engagement party, if they will be having one.
- Threaten to put a terrible announcement in the local (or national) newspaper. Bonus points for using Halloween pictures. (this is a joke, people.)
- Assist with making DIY stuff like Save the Dates, invitations, bouquets, etc.
- Offer to assist with directing parking on the day-of.
- Run around for last minute errands on the day of.
- Remember to be a shoulder to cry on or a place to vent!!
- Offer to design a website.
- If you have a specific skill that they may want, clearly outline your offer very early on. This will be beneficial for both of you. You can cut off any expectations of doing things for free. An example would be, “If you want, I can bake your cake for the cost of ingredients as my gift to you.” Clearly outline whether or not your service or item will constitute your gift and whether or not there will still be a cost associated with you doing it.
- Write out your heartfelt wishes in an engagement card, using these wedding card writing tips. Make sure you don’t use up all of your material before you give the wedding card!
- Suggest helping with the wedding registry.
Now that we’ve covered a few to-dos that will get you through a loss of words to congratulate your friends on their engagement, let’s move on to some don’ts, shall we?
- Assume you will be in the wedding party.
- For that matter, don’t assume you will be invited! Your friend may choose to elope.
- Ask about a date early on. Very few people have one picked out yet and it seems to be a very, very frequent question!
- Ramble on and on with too much advice. A few tidbits of specific advice are okay, but an advice deluge is likely overwhelming and intimidating. As time goes on, you can pop in more and more.
- Immediately start ranting about how you dislike your friend’s significant other. Bad scene.
- Make any comments whatsoever that centre on you, i.e. “You’d better not have a destination wedding because I won’t come.”
This is a guest post by Anne Keery. Anne can be found at UniqueGifter.com, where her team of writers bring you thousands of rad gift giving ideas. Don't know what to get your boyfriend for Christmas? No problem. She can also be found on twitter @ugifter, talking about money, skiing and food.
Common Wedding Gift FAQ's for the Budget Conscious
Weddings involve a lot of emotion and surprisingly, financial etiquette. I struggle to think of an event more laced with emotional land mines than a wedding. Not only is wedding gift etiquette in today's increasingly digital and cash-less world a challenge, but there are also new rules for the day of and what should happen afterward.
What Is the Minimum Amount to Gift?
Apparently the old hard-and-fast guideline the old rule of “Gift what it cost for your plate at dinner” is outdated.
An unofficial poll of 10 of my closest girlfriends revealed they typically spend $50-100 dollars on a wedding gift if there is no travel involved and they are only a guest and not participating in the wedding ceremony at all.
A recent Vogue.com article backs this up, stating that most gifts are between $50-$99, depending on how close you are to the couple.
Can I Give More?
Absolutely. Wedding gifts are a discretionary expense and you should only gift something that you can comfortably fit into your budget.
With that being said, I know plenty of friends who received thousands in cash from all of their middle-aged family members. (Which usually gets used for a home downpayment!)
As a young person getting your start, (unless you just make piles of cash and are feeling generous) you shouldn't feel obligated to spend like the Joneses.
Feel free to pay it forward in thirty years when your niece, nephew, whoever gets married.
What about If I have to travel? I can't afford both a gift and attending!
This one is tricky, as traveling for weddings (especially multiple ones in a season) can get expensive and fast.
If it is in your budget then I say, sure, gift a little something, but I know many couples who are simply happy with “the gift of someone's presence.”
With that being said, I generally do gift more in dollar amount to those friends whose weddings are local. I also still gift something smaller even when travel is involved.
Are Gift Cards Ok?
A long time ago, I gave a girlfriend a gift card as a wedding present. And she was actually very mad at me about it.
Her gripe was that the gift card came across as lazy and that she was hurt I didn’t take the time to pick out something personally for her.
In doing so, she felt I was communicating that I didn’t know what to get her, which offended her further since we’ve been friends for so long.
I told her I understood where she was coming from, but that I wasn’t going to apologize for giving her a gift.
Did she tell her Aunt she hated the set of bath towels she gifted her? No, she did not.
Even if someone handed me an apple from the refrigerator and thought enough to wrap it and give me a card, I'd say thank you! I'd be mortified for them to think I wasn't grateful for their efforts.
Sure, some may view gift cards as a cop out, but honestly, if you think that…you need to get over it. Below are just a few reasons why I, personally, always go the gift card route.
- After being a newlywed myself, I know that gift cards can often used toward a bigger item the recipient may not have been able to afford on their own or used to get the last thing missing from their registry.
- They never expire, so that awesome “I have a present in my pocket” feeling can last for a long time.
- Sometimes I'm mailing gifts after the wedding, in which case I think a gift card is often the easiest option.
- They pack amazingly well for destination weddings.
- You can avoid being the lame person who gets stuck with the lame lingering gifts on the registry.
- With a gift card, I think the most fun aspect is in letting the bride and groom choose. They have them at virtually every store, and even Amazon can ship the gift cards for you.
In my opinion, a gift card says “I care enough about you to want to part with my hard-earned money to give you a present.” I mean, since when did the actual gift become more important than the thought behind it? I gooogled it – feel free to give as many wedding gift cards as you like. Even Emily Post says it's okay.
4 Thoughtful Wedding Gift Card Ideas for Newlyweds
Below are my favorite gift card ideas for newlyweds. A few of these ideas I pulled from my own experience when I got married at the end of 2018.
The “Practical Gift” Card
The TL:DR: While not the sexiest or most exciting gift, these gifts are always a hit because they go to good use. Newlyweds will definitely use these practical gift cards (even if they don't register for them.) Also speaking from experience, weddings and honeymoons are very expensive endeavors, so having gifts that can ease the financial burden in the weeks following the big day are always appreciated.
For the Newlywed Homeowners
The TL:DR: Not everyone can purchase the candlesticks or kitchen utensils on the registry. Often, newlyweds and homeowners need help offsetting the cost of homeownership: from maintenance to new furniture.
The beauty of gift cards is that they can be pooled together for a more expensive item, or used for unexpected expenses – like when the microwave dies or the newlyweds want to install a new lock or security system. Is it sexy? No. Are these types of gifts highly used and appreciated? Yes!
The Date Night Gift
The TL:DR: This was a new-to-me idea I experienced during our own wedding season. We got three different gift cards for movie theatres and restaurants each with a card telling us to enjoy a date night on the gift giver. How cute, right? Now that we're back from our honeymoon, we'll definitely be using these gift cards to enjoy ourselves, while trying to recoup money from both the wedding and trip. Best of all, we'll definitely think to remember the gift givers when using these cards, since we normally don't often go to the movies!
For the Travelers
The TL:DR: What's better than giving a physical gift? Gifting an experience, and there's science behind this too. Travel also gets very expensive, so every little bit counts. Whether you're helping the newlyweds pay for the honeymoon or offsetting the cost of holiday travel, these gift cards are sure to impress.
Can I go “Off Registry?”
Sure. I would recommend this if you have a super thoughtful gift you'd like to get the couple and you know them fairly well. Sometimes the most thoughtful gifts come from off-registry purchases.
With that said…most couples took time and energy to create their registries.
And it's the easiest way to assure you have a no-fail gift.
I almost always do an AmEx (Or Amazon) gift card, or a gift card to one of the stores on their registry. They're always well received!
I'm on a budget but want to give a thoughtful wedding/engagement gift. Any ideas?
Recently on my Instagram stories, you may have seen me highlight a bunch of colorful, unique, and (best of all) affordable wedding gifts. They're from a curated, Etsy-esque type site called Society6 and if you haven't heard of them you should definitely check it out.
These gifts are perfect for brides (and grooms) who have fun tastes and you want to give them something more personal than steak knives or a microwave. Best of all, fun art prints or a decorative tray shows consideration without breaking the bank. I mentioned on Instagram that for the price, I was a little skeptical of the quality, but was quite pleasantly surprised. All of the framing and trays are made of high quality, nice wood.
Below is the list of what I chose for my home, but check out their website for more options.
- Rose Gold Mug ($15.99)
- Honey Bee Bathmat ($27.94)
- Atlanta Midtown Skyline Framed Print (15 x 21 – $66.99)
- Building and Pink Bokeh Art Print (17 x 13 – $35.99)
- Batroom Framed Art Print (10 x 12 – $49.99)
- “Sex and the City” Art Print (Mini 8 x 9 – $19.99)
- Abstract Breakfast Tray ($37.99)
What About if I am In the Bridal Party?
In theory, you should at least get them a small token. You know you'd feel slighted if the shoe were on the other foot. I know it can get expensive being a part of someone's big day, but the thought here is really what matters.
Do I have to Bring a Gift to Both the Shower and the Wedding?
I have brought my gift to the shower instead of the wedding. Although some consider this tacky, I was just informed this is wrong by my friend Jackie (and then I later confirmed it via The Huffington Post.)
So for those of you who hate showing up anywhere empty-handed, I'd suggest splitting your gift budget in two for both the wedding and the shower.
If I receive a gift, how long do I have to write a thank you note?
Three months, according to Real Simple. Typically though, I've received thank you notes as early as TWO DAYS after the wedding, and as late as about four weeks. But please, always do send a thank you note.
- I'd like to end all of this by saying that you are under no obligation to gift a couple anything, at any time, although many consider this the right thing to do.
- Do it to show happiness and acceptance of a couple's decision to marry.
- Whatever you choose, do what is right and best for you and YOUR budget.