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Do You Really Need Wedding Gifts – Common-Sense Wedding Etiquette

Updated on November 25, 2011

Second and Third Wedding Gift Etiquette

Authorized Etiquette

There are over three million results when entering into a Google search “second wedding gift ideas”. This suggests that wedding guests are often at a loss of what to get a couple who have previously walked down the aisle. It might also suggest that millions of soon-to-be brides and grooms, twice and thrice, have taken to the internet to write about the gifts that they want. Okay, maybe not, but it could be true.

Wedding etiquette explicitly states that wedding gifts should not be expected by a bride and groom who have been previously married. Because wedding gifts are unnecessary, it is both greedy and rude if a couple registers for a wedding-gift wish list, whether it happens to be at Macy’s or at Target. This is the way it is, and this rule should always be followed. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Traditionally, wedding gifts are for the sole purpose of helping newlyweds get started on the right foot. Appropriate wedding gifts include flatware, silverware, cookware, bedding, etc. Most, if not all, couples who are walking down the aisle for the second time have no need for these items. Although they may desire new and updated household items, this is, again, rude, inappropriate and greedy.

It is appropriate for wedding invitations to state at the bottom: Please, no gifts. Not only is it appropriate, but this is something that should be made perfectly clear for wedding guests out of courtesy. This would be true whether a large, formal wedding is planned or a small, intimate gathering is planned.

For the same reasons, it is also inappropriate for a second-time bride to have a bridal shower.


Wedding Gifts for the Couple who Cohabitates before Marriage

Common-Sense Wedding Etiquette—Unauthorized

More often than not, couples live together before walking down the aisle. Sometimes couples live together for so long that they become homeowners before they become husband and wife and/or have children together before they finally decide on a date to tie the knot.

If you fall into the above circumstances, I’ve taken it upon myself to speak on behalf of some of your friends and acquaintances about this wedding thing you’ve got planned. Quite possibly, I am speaking for some of your family members, too, especially those family members you don’t see on a regular basis.

The same line of thought should be applied to couples who have cohabitated before marriage that is applied to couples who are marrying for the second time.

If you are planning your wedding and have been cohabitating with your soon-to-be spouse for a significant period of time, you should ask yourself if you have any need for wedding gifts—flatware, silverware, bedding, etc. If you don’t need these things, you should not register for wedding gifts, despite the desire you have to obtain new and updated household appliances and items.

Not many wedding guests will admit this out loud, but when a couple begins building their life together, years before the wedding, it is tacky, inconsiderate and greedy to register for wedding gifts. The time for wedding gifts has come and gone, and couples should seriously consider including on the wedding invitations: Please, no gifts.

The Money Dance

Common-Sense Wedding Etiquette—Unauthorized

Under no circumstances should second weddings or cohabitating couples include a money dance during the wedding reception. Again, this is tacky and rude. You might as well say on your wedding invitations: Please bring us money so we can pay for our honeymoon (even though we have taken vacations together before).

If money is tight, you should not count on your guests to provide spending money for your honeymoon. You should have planned a small, intimate wedding and reception, a court-house wedding with a reception afterwards or a court-house wedding and honeymoon.

The only time a money dance is appropriate is when the newlyweds are truly beginning their lives together with nothing to call their own.

Wedding Gift Ideas and Options When Attending Weddings of Rude Brides and Grooms

When invited to a wedding where it is obvious that gifts are expected and shouldn't be, the first option you have is to not attend the wedding, of course.

The second option is to attend the wedding, but not to bring a wedding present. Not many people would be willing to do this, however.

The third option is to attend the wedding but not the reception. It is sometimes easier to not bring a wedding gift knowing that nobody has paid for your food and drink.

The last option is to purchase a wedding gift that is very cheap, but extremely appropriate and still generous. These types of gifts are limited in number simply because there aren't many choices of appropriate gifts for a couple who already has everything they need:

Picture frame

Wedding/Photo album

Crystal vase


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    • mizjo profile image


      5 years ago from New York City, NY

      The problem is that so many couples who have lived together for years still want a big flashy wedding and expect the guests to gift them money to pay for their food and drink.

      I am all for the small intimate wedding for the nearest and dearest, and not expect to be paid for the reception. The parents might, if in the position to, pay for all or part of it. The guests might still give a small, inexpensive, memento of a happy day.

    • profile image

      Becky Chester 

      6 years ago

      I appreciate hearing SOMEONE speak on couples who have been cohabitating! I feel that the BIG wedding is a big, meaningless show, pretending to "begin" their life together when they have already merged their lives, their finances, been vacationing together. The bride of whom I am thinking wants a "family" shower, a "friend/coworker" shower and would like to receive cash for home improvements. My advice would be to scale down the wedding chock full of all of the marriage traditions and make the home improvements!

    • Deni Edwards profile imageAUTHOR

      Deni Edwards 

      6 years ago from california

      Hi, Martie--Thanks for reading and commenting on the hub, and so positively. (I love your updated photo, too.)

      I don't believe that there are many people who don't desire wedding gifts, but I also know that there are people who find it slightly offensive when expected to bring wedding gifts under certain circumstances. Of course, I took it upon myself to write about it.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Deni, this hub of yours about Second and Third Wedding Gift Etiquette is absolutely enlightening and highly recommended as a guideline for 2nd/3rd wedding ceremonies.

      But still one feels like giving a gift - something not essential, but classy and handy. Or money.

    • Deni Edwards profile imageAUTHOR

      Deni Edwards 

      6 years ago from california

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Although it might be customary to bring gifts to celebrations, it isn't proper etiquette (nor has it ever been) to expect these gifts under certain circumstances--second, third weddings.

      Again, one could, and should--which is up for debate--apply the same rationale to cohabiting couples. It is common sense and logical, at least to me it is.

    • Moms-Secret profile image


      6 years ago from Central Florida

      I consider myself a non-biased third party since I eloped with my Prince and never had a housewarming party or other 'gift giving' event. I was, however, blessed by my friends and my Prince's friends when I needed it most and I didn't expect or ask for it. This hub sounds a bit personal. It is customary to bring a gift to every celebration, birthdays, weddings, house warming, etc. Most people are ok with it. While I do believe that it is a bit over the top to have registries for multiple weddings and children, I do not think it is rude to bring gifts to any celebrations. I think people need to drop the expectation to bring gifts and the judgement over those who choose not to bring a gift or can't bring a gift and enjoy the reason to celebrate.

      Personally, I am a big believer in gift carding because they can be modest and pulled together to purchase whatever is needed or wanted. Whether it is the 2nd or 3rd marriage or baby, everyone can use a break of their food bill, diapers, gas etc. The days of extravagant gift giving seem to be over for the better part of the US anyway.


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