Media Article – Wedding Gift Giving


Edmonton Journal - Edmonton Event Planners

Gift-Giving Can Be Tricky, says Edmonton Wedding Planner

By Chris Zdeb, The Edmonton Journal

The average Canadian bride and groom live together before marriage so they usually have all the kitchen gadgets and other housewares they need. What many really want for a wedding gift is money, but it’s uncouth to say so on the invitation.

There are ways to tell if that’s what they want, but if it is, how much should you give? And if you do decide to give a gift, how much should you spend? Do you have to buy a gift if you’re already missing work and forking over big bucks to attend a destination wedding?

With the I-Do season in full swing, we asked Edmonton certified wedding planner Christina Frizzell of Sweet Bliss Weddings about some common gift etiquette quandaries.

How do you know a couple wants money?

If they’re not registered for gifts anywhere, you can assume they’re looking for money. If you want to be sure, ask one of their parents or anyone in the bridal party.

How much should money should I give?

“If your budget allows, and you’re a generous person by nature, or if you’re very close to the couple, I would say the absolute minimum would be to cover the cost of you attending their wedding, but it’s always good to put in a little extra so the couple actually comes out with something as opposed to coming out even at the end,” Frizzell says.

An afternoon wedding or brunch, for example, costs less than a wedding with a cocktail hour, dinner and dance. The style of wedding invitation and venue will also give you a clue as to how formal or expensive a wedding is.

Frizzell would spend $100 to $150 (closer to $200 if she was buying a gift with her husband) on a close friend or relative; $100 on a casual friend or relative; and $75 to $100 on a co-worker or distant relative.

“But again, you have to use your own personal discretion on does this meet my budget? Is this something I can afford?”

Do you have to give a gift?

Unless the invitation specifically says ‘No Gifts Please,’ yes you do.

What should you buy if you have no idea what to buy?

Let the couple’s gift registry be your guide. If only big ticket items are left, consider splitting the cost with another guest or another couple.

What if you have an idea for a gift that’s not on the registry?

If you’re close to the couple and have an idea that’s out-of-the-box that you think they’d like such as a cooking class if they love to cook or a gift certificate for horseback riding, if that’s a favourite activity, they would probably appreciate it. But run it past the couple’s parents or someone in the bridal party just to be on the safe side.

If you can’t attend the wedding do you still need to buy a gift?

If a close family member is getting married, yes. If it’s a friend or acquaintance, “I don’t think you’re obligated,” Frizzell says.

If you’re already missing work and paying to attend a destination wedding, do you have to buy a gift too?

Unless the invitation says no gifts, you should buy one. But present it to the couple either before the wedding or after they return, because some gifts — an expensive bottle of port or wine — may not get through customs, or they may have to prove they didn’t buy that jewelry where they got married.

What about making a donation to a charity in the couple’s name instead of buying a gift?

It’s been done, but it’s not a big trend, as of yet.

If you’re already spending quite a bit of money for a bridal shower gift do you have to spend a lot on a wedding gift?

The shower gift and wedding gift are two separate things. The bridal shower gift is a gift for the bride, or a household item. The wedding gift is for the couple. The cost of one should not influence the cost of the other.

If someone didn’t give you a wedding gift are you obligated to buy them one?

According to wedding etiquette, a guest has up to one year to give you a wedding gift, so don’t jump the gun. “Take the high road,” Frizzell advises, and buy them a gift even if they didn’t buy you one.

Photo courtesy of Ed Kaiser, The Edmonton Journal

Check out the online article here.

**Update** This article also ran in The Montreal Gazette and in the Vancouver Sun on June 29th and 30th, 2011.

Not Your Ordinary Wedding Registry


Wedding Gift Registry - Edmonton Wedding CoordinationWith more couples living together before marriage and waiting longer before becoming engaged, the wedding gift registry has changed in the past few years. Whereas 40 years ago, our parents were registering for crystal and china patterns, the modern bride is more likely to have a small registry of a few items or secretly hope for money to put towards the cost of the wedding.

In lieu of your traditional department store Bridal Registry, here are some other options to consider:

Charitable Donations:  Donations to charity are becoming popular in weddings; whether it be to “buy” a kiss from the bride and groom, or to have the proceeds of a cash bar go towards the couple’s favorite charity.  Couples may also ask for donations to a specific cause as a way of honoring a family member who has passed away.  However, if you are looking at charitable donations in lieu of gifts, here are a couple of organizations that specifically have Wedding Registries:

Eco-Responsible Wedding Registry


Oxfam Canada - Oxfam is a global charity that works to find lasting solutions to poverty all over the world. Have your wedding guests gift a goat, a beehive, a donkey, seeds, solar panels, emergency toilets, and more to a village in need.

Wedding Charity - Canada Helps is the only organization that provides access to all of Canada’s 80,000 registered charities.  Once you set up a “Giving Page”, you can choose the charity (or charities) of your choice for guests to make donations to.  You can choose national charities such as the Canadian Cancer Society, or you can go local with options such as the Edmonton Humane Society or the Edmonton Heritage Festival. (Edmonton alone has over 500 registered charities listed!)

Honeymoon / Travel Registries:    If you don’t need any more “stuff” to clutter up your place, a great option to consider is a Honeymoon Registry.  Guests can make online monetary contributions to your dream honeymoon. For Canadian residents, try these sites:

Travel Wedding Gift Registry

Wedding Travel Gift Registry

Honeymoon Gift Registry

Wedding Registry for Anything

DreamBank - is the ultimate “gift registry”. This Canadian registry allows you to choose anything (and I mean ANYTHING!) at all that you want to register for – a down payment on a house, a piece of artwork, home renovations, or his & her bicycles. You upload your “dream” gift and attach a price value to it.  Guests can use a credit card or PayPal to contribute towards your dream gift and in turn, DreamBank donates 10% of all net transaction revenue to charity. (Registrants are given a choice of charities to associate their dream gift with.)

This registry is also great for birthdays or anniversaries as you can literally register for anything that you want!