Gift Giving 101: How to Purchase Engagement Party, Bridal Shower and Wedding Gifts They Want • Carly Totten

Red Oak Weddings | Gift Giving 101: How to Purchase Engagement Party, Bridal Shower and Wedding Gifts They Want • Carly Totten

From finding the perfect piece friends and family will love, to wrapping everything up and tying it with a bow, I tend to become overly excited about presenting gifts for birthdays, holidays, and moments “just because”. Simply put, gift giving is my love language. With that said, purchasing a gift for an engagement party, shower, or wedding always feels as though I’ve entered onto a different playing field.

Sometimes a friend’s or family member’s fiancé is someone I’ve known for years as the pair have grown closer together, and sometimes I’ve never met his or her partner. To avoid feeling overwhelmed in either situation, I’ve noted my top three gift giving tips below for you. Plus, I’m making suggestions on the gifts to purchase for engagement parties, showers, and weddings that both parties will adore for years.   


Top 3 Gift Giving Tips:

1 | Listen: Often, there are hints that a couple is likely going to become engaged or perhaps you meet them once they already are planning their wedding. When they talk about themselves and their partner, I always listen extra carefully to try to pick up clues about things they love. Go-to stores, color palettes, hobbies they both enjoy, and travel plans for the future, including their honeymoon, are always points I stow away in my mind for gift giving options.

2 | Start Early: From the moment I learn a gift is in order, I start my search. This may seem crazy, but it allows me to carefully cull through all of my options and consider everything from money and registry items to off-registry items that may take more time to arrive at my doorstep. Also, starting early allows me to brainstorm with others to see if we may all be interested in purchasing a particular experience or item together to defray the cost. Start early and finish strong and stress-free! 

3 | Personalize: In the event that you would like to purchase something that’s not on the registry, I always like to choose a piece that’s personalized with a monogram, name, or date. For a gift just for the bride, a jewelry box (West Elm is a great source for this!), bracelet, or necklace engraved with her new monogram is always a fun piece to open and enjoy at the wedding or just after. Things such as a hanger for her wedding dress or a robe to wear while getting ready on her wedding day are also great too, but you may want to check in with the bridesmaids or moms to make sure these are not already being purchased by them. For a gift for the couples, I always gravitate toward gifts with their wedding date or new last name (Parris Chic Boutique is a great source!).

Red Oak Weddings | Gift Giving 101: How to Purchase Engagement Party, Bridal Shower and Wedding Gifts They Want | Carly Trotten

Gifts for Every Pre-Wedding & Wedding Event:


For the Engagement Party: Engagement parties often occur before the couple has had a chance to create a registry, so it’s a time to get very creative! If you’re searching for a more extravagant gift that you can purchase with others, I always look to experiences. Whether they enjoy the arts, sports, cooking together, or simply going to the movies, tickets to do any of the above are always appreciated because it’s time they can spend together without worrying about wedding plans. For a simpler gift, I love framing photos, especially if I’m able to have one printed from the moment when they got engaged (this is perfect for work friends to place on their desks!).

For the Shower: The pieces on the registry are things the couple needs (or wants!) the most. Don’t be afraid to peruse their registry and purchase something from it. I always gravitate toward pieces that I feel the couple will appreciate or use the most. Time and time again, couples say they are most thankful for pieces like kitchen appliances and plates, so that’s always a great place to start. If you’re purchasing a kitchen gift and wish to add a personal touch, include one of your favorite recipes from your family for them to make together. Also, think ahead to their honeymoon: a passport cover, fun tote, or accessory that matches her style is always fun to receive.

For the Wedding: The most popular gift to give when attending a wedding is money. However, there are a couple reasons why. Once the couple’s wedding day arrives, they have likely enjoyed at least one shower together (sometimes more!), so almost every item from the registry has been purchased. Another reason to consider is size: a present will likely have to be carried until a wedding planner or gift table is in sight. This is tricky! The third reason: monetary gifts can help the couple pay for their honeymoon and perhaps experience something additional while they’re there, or your gift can be placed into savings account for future plans. How much to give is entirely up to you and your relationship with the couple, but I always give in increments of $25 (typically $75-$100 is a great starting point).

Do you have questions or suggestions about gift giving for weddings? Let us know in the comments! We’re happy to help.

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photography by Cinnamon Wolfe Photography