What is the proper etiquette about opening wedding gifts?

March 12, 2013 | By

Question by kim r: What is the proper etiquette about opening wedding gifts?
Some of our gifts have arrived. Should we open them before the wedding. Should we open them at the reception?

Best answer:

Answer by mariahrose85
Don't open them at the reception, it's not a children's birthday party.
There's nothing wrong with opening the ones you've received, or with waiting until after the wedding/honeymoon.

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Comments (11)

  1. Amanda

    as the other poster said, you dont ever open them at the wedding, that is in very bad taste. you can open them at any private time away from your guests, but most commonly after the wedding

  2. BBG

    NEVER open wedding gifts at the reception.

    Yes, if they arrive before the wedding it is perfectly appropriate to open them before the wedding.

    Many couples arrange a time with their parents or best man/maid of honor to open the gifts and make an afternoon of it. The couple opens gifts, the maid of honor makes a list of who gave what, etc.

    That way the happy couple can write thank-you notes in advance of the ceremony. If you are leaving on a honeymoon directly from the wedding, the thank-you notes should be given to the maid of honor so she can post them after the ceremony so that they will arrive in a timely fashion.

    There is no need to wait until after the wedding to open gifts. Sending thank-yous in a timely manner is more important (always wait until after the ceremony to send a thank-you).

    P.S. I really wish more people weren’t so oblivious about when to give a wedding gift. Taking them to the actual wedding is a serious pain for the wedding party. Weddings are becoming targets for theft (many of those envelopes have cash and parcels have easily returnable valuables). In addition, someone has to pack up all that loot and make sure it gets from the wedding and/or reception venue to someone’s home and later into the hands of the bride/groom. People….please. It is really not nice to drop off presents at a wedding. Please ship them (or hand deliver) prior or after the ceremony.

  3. lisaclara

    Most people save all of the gifts for after the wedding and open them privately between husband and wife. Sometime after you return from the honeymoon – you have someone store them for you. Monetary gifts can be taken on the honeymoon but if you save everything for later – then it’s easier to organize and write down who gave you what so that you can prepare and mail handwritten thank you notes right away. I made a point of not using anything that I had been given until I had sent out those handwritten thank you notes. It’s not a reception activity to have everybody sit there and watch you open a bazillion gifts and ooh and ahh about each one. That’s just absurd. You don’t invite Aunt Mayble from 800 miles away so that she can sit and watch you open your new pots and pans. The wedding recpetion is for people mixing and mingling and meeting up once again because life is busy and we don’t often get everyone together like that unless it’s a wedding or funeral. It’s especially important to remember what each gift is in the wedding gift thank you notes and tell them how it will help you in some way. Especially with monetary gifts, older folks are always concerned with if you lost the check or it was stolen or whatever. A specific thank you note sets their mind at ease and assures them that you are responsible with their gift.

  4. Living life - one day at a time!

    I’ve heard and seen all kinds of options, so I couldn’t really tell you the “correct” etiquette.

    I’ve seen presents opened AT the reception…I don’t recommend this. I honestly wasn’t offended or anything (some people will really bite your head off about this stuff, but I think it depends on the couple/family etc)…but I will tell you. It was BORING. I get it, not our day, but some people get a lot of cards and presents…and 30 min to hour of watching them open them is not so fun.

    I know most people open the gifts they get in the mail right away, and that your supposed to also write your thank you right away. So if you get a gift from uncle bob 3 weeks before the wedding, don’t write his thank you note 2 weeks after the wedding while your doing everyone else, it should be early because his present was early. I hope that makes sense.

    I’ve also seen people hold all their gifts, and plan a lunch/brunch with more immediate family the day after the wedding and open their presents there.

    Personally, I opened them all alone with my husband after the wedding. So that’s another option. :)

    Don’t forget to write down who got you what…you’d be amazed how much you might forget if you can’t get to the thank you’s right away.

    Whatever you choose. PLEASE don’t let etiquette ruin your day, do whatever makes you feel comfortable. I get that its important, but I hate how on here so many people throw a fit about whats proper or tacky etc.

  5. Kelly

    Many years ago, bridesmaids opened the gifts at the reception for the couple, not the couple themselves. My brother & his wife received some of their gifts early and gifts from people who could not attend and they opened all of them early so they could get their thank you card for the gift out as soon as possible.

    These days, its never proper to open the gifts at the reception. Gifts given at the reception are opened after the reception (usually the following day) by the couple, or even sometimes after you’ve returned from a honeymoon. The theory behind that is to avoid having guests feel bad who maybe didn’t bring a gift or maybe didn’t bring a gift as nice/expensive as another guest, as well as perhaps a gift that may be inappropriate to open in-front of everyone.

    However if you’ve received gifts at your home before the wedding, nobody is going to know you opened them early unless you tell them.

    Aside from etiquette when you open your gifts infront of people its showing what you received and becomes a bigger target for theft. Sad as it is, even though these are people you have invited and wouldn’t think it to happen, theft often occurs at wedding receptions. Not just guests sometimes it is staff members at the venue, security, catering, etc anyone can walk in and see your gifts if you open them.

  6. Craig

    after the honey moon unless someone asks you to open it early

  7. fly32407

    I say open them whenever you want. At wedding showers, bridal parties..it’s okay to open those gifts there. But when it’s after that and you have gifts don’t open them in front of everyone. The reception is a party for everyone to enjoy and celebrate your marriage, not to sit down and watch you open gifts and think “that’s better than mine” or “i wish…” things like that. you know? It’s good to set up a table to keep presents and cards on as people come into your wedding. But don’t open them. :)

  8. JE

    Where I’m from, the tradition is that you go to the bride’s parents house the day after the wedding and open them in front of your parents and siblings. But definitely not before. Please, please, please, do not open them at the reception. That’s tacky and it will make some people feel like that’s the only reason you invited them.

  9. riversconfluence

    Open them at home, and you can do so at your convenience. Now, or later. The old etiquette is that the bride displayed all of her gifts before and after the wedding in a pretty way, on a table with a cloth, even flowers on the table. People called on her, bringing their gift, and would be able to view the other gifts. Even the checks were displayed, under glass, and only the giver’s name was exposed, not the amount. Now days, it would be dangerous to leave them about, they might be stolen, and that is one sure way for the giver to get their bank account cleaned out. And I always thought it was not polite to keep a check forever without cashing it. Hard to balance a checkbook with a outstanding check for months and months.

    Have a paper and pen ready, and write it down what it is, and who it came from as the presents arrive. Write down details of the present, the giver, or the address if they are not known to you, or if there is something unusual about any of those.
    One cute idea is to take the greeting card, and write on the back of it what the gift is and who it is from, and tape or write the return address off of the envelope on it too. That way, if you lose the paper, you still have the card.
    Use this for situations like you get a gift from Aunt Sally and Uncle Mike, and you know darn well that you do not have a aunt or uncle by that name. Or for presents where you did not know the giver’s exact address, or real names. And for the future, you keep the card, and will know forever that they gave you a blender, and remember who Mike and Sally were. Turns out, Sally was your Mom’s sorority sister. LOL.

    And don’t take the presents to the reception. You will not have time to open them, and someone will have to carry them back home after the reception [not to mention the ones that were brought to the reception by your guests]. Old small town etiquette was to have someone open your gifts for you at the reception. I did this for a cousin. Horrible job. People were dropping their gifts off at the church[which is rude beyond belief, you never do this], two flights of stairs away from the church basement reception, on a hot summer day. I was wearing a long dress and heels.

    Hey, have the bridesmaids over, and have a let’s open the gifts tea or pizza party. How fun! Or invite the in-laws, and you and fiance open them. Lots of ohs and ahs, and a good chuckle over the “what were they thinking?” gifts.

    Hint: the best “favor” I ever got for a wedding was not some dumb tulle circle with Jordan almonds in it, but a timely and nicely worded thank you note after the wedding. and you do not have to wait until after the wedding to write them, or even post them. Some people send the presents way in advance, to be sure you got them, and if you did not, get the process going at the post office to get them to pony up the insurance money, and then go get the gift re-ordered and sent. People do worry if you got the gift or not. My Grandma sent a hand embroidered quilt [worth a fortune] via the mail. Her Grandson and his new wife did not see fit to thank her for it. She worried herself to death over it being stolen, and the possibility she would have to do it all over again. The jerk’s Mom finally intervened, and made the happy couple acknowledge the gift.

  10. ribbitgrl

    Don’t open them at the wedding. That’s a time to celebrate your marriage and to be with your guests. If some have already started arriving, go ahead and open them and get some of your thank you notes written. Just make sure you don’t use those items until after the wedding (etiquette states that, if the wedding is canceled, all gifts must be returned in store-returnable condition, meaning unused).

  11. diamondcollector

    what everybody else said.

    i wanted to add that i wrote the thank you notes as i opened each gift and mailed them straight away. most of the gifts were sent to my home before the wedding.

    it’s really really really really really really really really rude to bring a gift to the reception. hotel staff steal, your guests steal, especially from the money basket, and someone has to cart all those gifts home.