A Southerner’s Guide to New Orleans Wedding Gift Etiquette


Everyone wants to give the perfect gift at a New Orleans wedding. The married couple-to-be deserves all the supplies to make their house a home and their love last forever. Still, deciding how much to spend or what to buy can be tricky. With so many Southern traditions and faux pas, wedding gift-giving often overwhelms guests. Addressing the most frequently asked questions about wedding gift-giving will allow guests to enter the venue confident in their gift choice.

How Much Cash is Appropriate for a Southern Wedding Gift?

The most crucial step to buying a wedding gift is establishing the budget or price range. The average wedding gift cost in the Southern United States is about $140, with a minimum spend of $50. Wedding gift etiquette suggests that a gift should be equal to or greater than the cost per guest for the reception.

Southern New Orleans weddings can be expensive, costing the bride and groom anywhere from $180 to $500 per person. However, spending over $200 on a gift is unrealistic for most attendees. To most couples, a guest’s presence is the most valuable gift. Guests should always abide by what they can comfortably pay regardless of etiquette.

Is a Gift Expected from People Not Attending the Wedding?

The bride and groom only expect gifts from those attending the wedding. The couple is not paying for those who don’t go, so there is no need for a gift. However, receiving a wedding invitation shows how much the couple values a guest’s participation in their special day. Even when not attending, giving a gift or sending a card is an admirable way to reciprocate the gesture.

In the South, it is common for relatives or close friends who can’t attend the wedding to send lavish gifts in their absence. All guests should consider their relationship with the couple to decide the best course of action to support their charming day.

Should Guests Buy Wedding Gifts from the Registry or Give Cash?

The bride and groom spend much time curating their registry to reflect their needs and make gift-giving more accessible for guests. Most registries are online and list every item exactly as the couple wants, making it incredibly easy for guests to give the ideal gift. Using the registry to order and ship gifts directly to the couple’s home eliminates the hassle of transporting large gifts.

Registries tend to move fast, with guests buying the most affordable and meaningful gifts first. In this case, giving cash or writing a check is always acceptable. Guests can also find cash funds on the registry to donate to virtually. Some couples prefer money toward their honeymoon or savings account over flashy gifts.

Is it Acceptable to Give a Group Wedding Gift?

When the only item that remains on the registry costs more than the average wedding gift, guests will team up to purchase it. Bridesmaids and groomsmen spend a lot on dresses, tuxes, bridal showers, and bachelor parties, so a group gift is an excellent option for them. Group gifts are a great way to ensure the bride and groom get the big-ticket items on their list while allowing guests to stay within their gift budget.

When and Where Should Wedding Gifts be Given?

In the south, early is on time — the same rule goes for wedding gift-giving. Gift options on registries disappear quickly, with everyone on a mission to remain within budget. The earlier guests decide on a gift, the better.

Guests should never bring wedding gifts to the reception. The bride, groom, and wedding party already have enough to keep track of, and a box of large gifts can be cumbersome. Luckily, most registries allow guests to ship gifts directly to the couple’s home.

Experience a New Orleans Southern Wedding at a J Collection Hotel

The J Collection represents a portfolio of independent and branded hotels in New Orleans. J Collection’s vast destinations ensure a hotel for everyone attending a New Orleans wedding. Our New Orleans hotels are welcome to all. Book a stay with one of J Collection’s hotels and create one-of-a-kind New Orleans memories.