02/02/2016 06:03 EST | Updated 02/02/2017 05:12 EST

Sticky Situation: Two Wedding Celebrations, How Many Gifts?


Sticky Situation:

I am the sister and godmother of a soon-to-be bride that will be married twice; civilly in early 2016 spring and religiously in the fall of 2017.

I am wondering about my gift obligations for these two weddings.

Do I have to offer two gifts and if so, how much should I spend on each one?

I'm a bit lost. I cannot find anyone who has experienced this! I don't have a reference for two weddings for the same couple.

Can you please enlighten me?


For starters, every first time wedding invitation has a gift obligation.

The only exception is when you're a distant colleague, friend or family member, and you have not had any contact with either of the future newlyweds.

Let's clarify and understand, you are attending two celebrations for THE wedding of your sister and her future spouse.

You offer a gift to celebrate the rite of marriage, the recognized union of two spouses. Your offering is for "one" life event, so you only offer "one" gift.

Even for those who marry a second or even a third time and more, there is no gift obligation for their guests when they are invited to the other marriages. We offer a wedding gift to a loved one only once in their lifetime. Of course, you can always offer a gift, for any occasion, or just because. But, based on certain traditions, you may have to be discreet.

Since you are very close to the bride, and you did not receive information for the gift, I recommend you talk to your sister to inform the other guests, who probably like you, are wondering about best gift practices.

The best way to spread the word that the couple does not expect to receive two gifts, but only one, is by word-of-mouth. When asked about gift preferences, the couple, along with their close relatives and members of the wedding party, can say that only one gift is expected for the two celebrations.

Here are two examples:

"They would like to make a trip to Europe (or any other desire). A contribution will surely be appreciated to make this dream come true."

"They are registered at The Bay. Just click here to make your choice."

Note to your sister and to all future newlyweds reading this blog post: never make gift mentions in your wedding invitation. It's simply rude.

Gift wishes and suggestions may be shared verbally when asked, or on a Facebook page, that contains all the additional wedding information such as directions, hotel arrangements and other details along with a wedding registry.

As for the amount to spend on the wedding gift, the answer is: it depends. Influencing factors are:

1) your relationship with the couple,

2) what they like and

3) your budget.

Offer with your heart and respect your wallet.

The amount you spend should not consider:

• the financial means of the couple,

• the venue of the celebration, nor

• the number of courses to the meal.

Also note, the one-year deadline for the offering of a wedding gift is a myth.

Whether offering a cash donation, a sentimental object or a coveted item, to the spouses, send your gift as soon as possible. Send it to the attention and residence address of whom you are closest to; in your case, your sister. If they are already living together, obviously you send it to their home.

Lastly, also inform your sister, that the couple must send a personalized thank you note for every gift received. Promptly writing these notes is the most effective way to gratefully acknowledge receipt. Here's an easy to follow recipe for writing thank you notes.

May the future newlyweds live happily ever after!

Want more solutions? Visit Julie's website, like her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter and here in the Huffington Post. Order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Or, invite her to facilitate a workshop for your team.

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