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Attending a Wedding? Don’t be ‘That Guest’!

Being a good guest has its own etiquette to follow, especially when it comes to buying a gift.

Millions of Americans will be heading off to weddings this summer and fall, and a significant part of pre-wedding prep is buying a gift. It’s never easy: What’s the right gift? How much should you spend? Is a card good enough?

With so many gift-giving events in our lives throughout a year, here are some sure-fire tips for buying wedding presents that will ensure you’re not “That Guest.”

1. Don’t show up with just a card!

The No. 1 gift-etiquette rule is that if you’re invited to a wedding, you should send a gift, even if you can’t attend. If you are attending, whether you’re shopping on their registry or opt to stash cash in the card, make sure to bring a gift. Do not be “that guest” and enjoy the couple’s hospitality without being reciprocal in some way. You wouldn’t want someone to come to your wedding without a gift either, would you?

2. Select a gift from the registry.

Twenty-five percent of recent couples spent five or more hours creating their registry, making sure the items they want and need are on that list. Unless you think that you know the couple better than they know themselves – and how many of us really do – do not stray from the gift registry.  Most registries can be accessed online these days, so there is no longer the excuse that the store was too far or that you didn’t see anything that you liked. Remember, this isn’t about what you like, but about what they like.

3. Spend the appropriate amount.

On average, couples are spending $27,000 on their weddings. It’s not only about them creating lasting memories, but it’s also about entertaining you. Some etiquette specialists say you should cover your “plate charge” and gift in the range that the couple is spending on you. But that’s not fair to someone without the wherewithal to do so. My rule is to spend in accordance with your relationship to the couple, your personal financial status, and whether you are coming alone or with someone else. So if you’re close to the couple or bringing a plus one, spend more. If you’re having financial problems, spend less. But after you calculate that all out, do not spend less than $50 – you would spend that easily on a fun night out on the town.

4. Chip in when you can’t find something in your price range.

Sometimes you go to a registry and everything is out of your price range. Don’t fret, and do not buy something else instead. No one is expecting you to go into debt over a wedding gift, and high-ticket items are often able to be group gifted. Best Buy offers group gifting, where many individuals can contribute money toward one big-ticket item. Other registries do, too. Check to see if an item can be group gifted and spend the amount that you intended to spend – regardless of the price of the gift.

Nancy Lee is President of myregistry.com, the world’s largest universal gift registry system. Best Buy’s wedding registry  gives registrants the option to conveniently sync their registry with MyRegistry.com.