We’re in the midst of wedding season, which means that many of us are facing wedding etiquette questions. Here with the answers is Esther Lee, senior editor at the Knot.
Q: What’s the appropriate amount to spend on a gift?
A: As a rule of thumb, wedding gifts run in the $100 to $400 range, but there is no prescribed amount. The answer depends on several things, including your relationship with the bride or groom: Is it your best friend since childhood, a relative, co-worker, the daughter of your next-door neighbor whom you haven’t seen since she left home 10 years ago? Are you expected to provide gifts for the bridal shower and bachelorette party, too? And what can your budget tolerate?
Q: What are some things people should keep in mind to be a good guest during the ceremony and reception?
A: Abide by the dress code. Be on time. If you have a tendency to overindulge at parties, rein it in. And don’t leave early unless you truly have an emergency. The couple put a lot of work into planning this day, and they chose you to be there. Be present for them.
Q: The dress “code” could use some deciphering: black tie, formal, semiformal. What’s it all mean?
A: Think of it as a ladder with black tie at the top. Typically designated for weddings held after 5 p.m. in nice event spaces, it involves dresses that are longer in length. Formal is one level down: You can wear a fancy dress, but it doesn’t have to be a gown. For women, statement heels and a clutch are really good for a formal occasion. Men should consider accessories such as cuff links. Semiformal means dressier than you likely wear to work; the word “fashionable” is often used to describe this clothing.
When in doubt, it’s better to show up overdressed than underdressed because it’s easier to make your look more casual than go the other way.