The do's and don'ts of gift-giving

When it comes to a wedding, make sure When it comes to a wedding, make sure you know the rules of gift-giving. Photo Credit: Fotolia

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The events and celebrations after an engagement are always fun, but if you've ever been a guest at an engagement party, bridal shower or wedding, you'll know that selecting a gift can pose a bit of a challenge. Cheryl Seidel, founder of registryfinder.com -- a website that simplifies the search of finding registries just by filling in the name of the recipient -- answers questions on gift-giving etiquette.

Is it OK to buy something for the bride that's not on her registry?

Yes, it's fine to buy something for the bride that's not on her registry. The gift registry is a useful tool to help guests know what the bride and groom want and need, but it's not a mandate. Many guests find purchasing from a wedding registry more convenient and like the assurance that the gift will be useful to the couple. If you have selected something you just know the bride and groom will love, then by all means make that your gift.

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What's a gift-gifting faux pas that every guest should know?

The only real gifting faux pas is giving a gift that might be inappropriate or cause embarrassment. Examples might be wine or liquor to a non-drinker, lingerie to a co-worker (unless attending a lingerie shower) or something that has been used.

 Is it ever OK to regift?

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In most cases, it's generally best to avoid regifting. This is especially true of wedding gifts you have received, as wedding gifts are personal and often expensive. Would you be embarrassed if the person who gave you the gift or the person receiving the regift found out? If so, then don't do it. 

The only times its technically acceptable to regift is when:

* The item is unused
* It's something you know bride and groom want and something you would have purchased for them anyway
* It's a family heirloom

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Are you expected to spend the same amount of money on a bride as she did for you (or vice versa)?

Not really. There is no set dollar amount that should be spent on a wedding gift. It really depends on your budget and relationship to the couple, but you should spend only what you can afford.

If you are unsure of how much to spend, it's fine to use their gift as a guideline. As far as what others spend on you, that's always out of your control. We should accept all gifts with grace and gratitude, and try not to equate dollars spent with the depth of our friendship.

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Are you expected to give a present even if you can't attend the shower or the wedding?

If you are unable to attend a bridal shower, you are not obligated or expected to send a gift. However, someone who is very close to the bride and wants to be there but can't may choose to send a gift so her presence is felt. 

The wedding, however, is totally different. If you are invited to a wedding but can't attend, you should still send a gift. The wedding gift is a representation of your friendship, love and support. If you know the person well enough to receive a wedding invitation, then one assumes you would want to support them with a wedding gift.

Here's the exception to this rule: If you receive a wedding invitation from someone you have not seen or heard from in years, and do not anticipate rekindling that friendship, I feel it is perfectly acceptable to send a letter or card of congratulations.

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