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Everyday Cheapskate: Good Manners, Good Sense and Wedding Gifts

Mary Hunt on

You know it's wedding season when the invitations pile up in your mailbox faster than you can return the RSVPs. Who doesn't love a wedding? OK, I see those hands, but you are clearly in the minority.

The challenge is buying gifts for your betrothed friends and relatives -- or their kids -- that they'll appreciate but that won't run up your credit cards or make you look like a total tightwad.

Before we get to the gifts, let's review the etiquette. The Emily Post Institute advises that if you are invited to a bridal shower and cannot attend, only your regrets to the hostess are required. Etiquette does not require you to send a gift. And if you are invited to more than one shower for the same bride, you should not feel obligated to attend more than one shower, even if you are in the wedding party.

Not so for an invitation to the wedding. Even if you are unable to attend, good manners dictate sending a gift to the home of the bride several weeks before the big day.

So, how can you give a great gift without overspending? That requires some planning.


A rule of life is that you do not go into debt to buy a gift. There are no rules, however, about how much you must spend on a gift. Figure out how much cash you have to spend on this gift, and then stick to that amount.


These days, most couples are registered with at least one retailer, and usually, that list is available online. Sure, they will know how much you spent if you buy a gift from their registry, but so what? These are items they have selected that they really want. They will not be opening their gifts with a calculator in one hand, weighing the value of your gift by the amount you spent.



It is perfectly acceptable for several people to pool their resources to buy one gift. Again, the registry is a good place to find a gift that fits the amount you have to spend. All of you should sign the same card.


If you have artistic and creative talents, making a gift for the couple's new home is an excellent idea. That's one gift you know they won't be returning. The key to pulling off a homemade gift is to personalize it to match the bride or groom's favorite things.


OK, so it's not the best idea, but certainly one to consider if you are flat-out broke right now. Etiquette expert Emily Post of The Emily Post Institute assures us that we have up to three months following the nuptials to deliver a gift to the happy couple. That means you get a reprieve. Even if the wedding is tomorrow, you still have at least 90 days to save up, find a great sale or make a gift.

Don't worry if you miss the suggested 90-day period; the newlyweds will still be grateful for your gift and the thought you put into it -- even if it's given up to a year from their nuptials.

If you want your gift to stand out in the crowd, having it show up late is bound to do just that.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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