Wedding gift-giving: Tips on how much to spend and where to spend it |

Wedding gift-giving: Tips on how much to spend and where to spend it

Jennifer Geisman
Special to the Daily

Notorious for its near 300 days of sunshine and bluebird powder days, the High Country is the quintessential cocktail for winter nuptials. The alpine community sees many brides, grooms and wedding guests each year, but if you think the defining factor of blissful matrimony is just the scenery or the dress, you are a wedding-circuit novice. Because let's face it, one of the greatest aspects of a wedding is the gifts.

Stick to the registry

The old saying that any significant event involving money can cause uncharacteristic reactions from people also rings true for weddings. Buying that perfect gift can be tricky because what seems like the "best gift ever" to you, may not stir that same enthusiasm in someone else.

Need a rule of thumb? Don't stray from the wedding registry. In the past, a couple's wedding registry was merely a suggested list of items they wanted or needed, but today, more and more prenuptial duos are fine-tuning their registries to really reflect their interests (such as skiing) and household desires (Riedel wine glasses).

The only situation where you have permission to go off the registry is when you know the couple extremely well and the gift you find is undoubtedly the "best gift ever." If you are still hesitant about gift-giving etiquette, then you can always refer to the foolproof "Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, 6th Edition," by Anna Post and Lizzie Post.

Cash is king

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Cash or gift — that is the age-old question. Wedding gifts can be a thorny experience in some circles, so giving money is a great alternative to buying only one Wedgewood China soup bowl. Deciding on the appropriate amount depends on your budget and your relationship with the bride and groom.

"If you are attending a relative or friend's wedding, the suggested amount for a wedding gift is about $100 to $150," said Kelly Karli, wedding planner and founder of Kelly Karli Weddings and Events in Edwards. "However, if it is a co-worker or distant friend, the recommended amount is about $75 to $100."

For destination weddings, Karli gives her stamp of approval on spending less, since most of the guests have travel expenses. There are many ways to give your cash gift: the traditional money-holder congrats card or, a more modern twist, gifting online.

"Deposit a Gift is considered one of the top three registries in the nontraditional gifting space and is often used by engaged couples to create registries for everything from honeymoons to home down-payments, from renovations to date nights and even practical things like mattresses or saving for a family," said Dana Ostomel, founder of the cash gift registry service.

"Many couples already have what they need, and Deposit a Gift helps them craft a registry that is truly a reflection of who they are and what is important to them so that friends and family can get involved."

Other online money gift registries include,, which permits gift-givers to use their PayPal accounts, and, which specializes in allowing guests to chip in for a larger, joint gift.

Popular must-gives

According to, the No. 1 item on couples' registries in the past year was the stand mixer, such as the classic Kitchen Aid Professional 600 Mixer, in kitchen-couture colors such as stainless steel, candy apple red and black. Next in line on the must-give list is an espresso maker or the new coffee pour-overs, such as the Chemex coffeemaker, followed by craft beer glasses and modern-day dishes to round out the top five.

Slifer Designs in Edwards sees many destination wedding guests looking for that perfect gift. The most popular wedding gifts are the Michael Aram silver-plated frames ($75 to $110), with the 5-inch-by-7-inch frame being the most common size purchased. In addition, the interior design store sells Simon Pearce crystal and special-order glassware and cheese boards. Frequently bought items include Simon Pearce wine decanters ($160), bowls ($140 to $200) and liquor decanters ($180 to $225) and the Cheeseboard Slice ($95).

If you are looking for the traditional gift table at the next wedding, then most likely you will not find one.

"Not a lot of guests bring gifts to the wedding," said Nate Agnini, co-owner of Nate and Jenny Weddings in Eagle-Vail. "Many brides and grooms receive exactly what they registered for and the gifts are shipped to their houses."

If guests do bring gifts to the wedding, then Agnini said they are hard-to-find items such as local craft beers from Colorado or eggs from the guest's farm. For unique, keepsake gifts with a Colorado flair, Kitchen Collage carries a variety of local designers, including Beatrice Ball platters and bowls (starting at $25), hand-etched glasses by Lorraine Coyle (starting at $36.99) and hand-painted glasses Gelinde Dittrich ($29.99).

Gift-giving reference guide

• How much should you spend? If you are attending a relative or close friend’s wedding, spend anywhere between $100 and $150. For a co-worker or more distant friend, $75 to $100 is suggested.

• How much time after the wedding happens do you have to send a gift? Proper etiquette dictates that you should send a wedding gift at least two weeks prior to the wedding date; however, guests have up to one year after the nuptials to send gifts.

• For the newlyweds, what is the etiquette for acknowledging gifts? Don’t wait for the phone call asking why Grandma Blanche hasn’t received her thank-you note yet! Gift arrives? Thank-you note should go out the next day.

• Thank-you cards or thank-you emails? There is something to be said for tradition, and receiving a thank-you via snail mail will always bring a smile to the recipient’s face. Send an email for the quick “your gift arrived — thank you,” but a handwritten note goes a long way.