According to etiquette guidelines, guests attending a wedding (or a pre-wedding party) should plan to give the newlyweds a thoughtful gift to celebrate their nuptials. Since many people don't want to lug presents to the bridal shower or wedding ceremony, they send their gifts in the mail ahead of time instead. But this begs an important question: If you buy a gift from the couple's registry and send it to their listed address, do you still need to bring a separate card to the event?
According to Gretchen Culver, owner and creative director of Rocket Science Events, bringing a card isn't necessary, but it's still a nice gesture. "Many couples like to hold on to their cards. They make a great keepsake," she explains. "I also think that a card can express your sentiment and well wishes better than an impersonal typed note included with the shipped gift." Additionally, cards help couples keep track of gifts received, which comes in handy when the couple goes to write their thank-you notes. "If your gift is arriving after the shower or wedding, it's nice to give a card so the couple knows a gift is coming," says Culver.
Another reason to bring a card to the reception: it eliminates the guilt of showing up without a gift. As long as you plan to send the couple something from their registry, the card doesn't need to have cash or a check inside. But according to Bianca Hall of Estera Events, "If you absolutely feel weird showing up to the wedding empty handed, decide the total amount you'd like to give, then spend 50% of that total on a gift mailed to the couple's home or given to them at their shower. Write the couple a check for the remaining 50% and gift it to them with a card on their wedding day."
Wondering what the card should say? Hall says she's not a huge fan of generic store-bought cards, but loves when guests write a heartfelt note on their own stationery. "There is something so personal about receiving a handwritten note on monogrammed paper!" she says. Culver shares the same sentiments, saying that a great card does all the talking. She also recommends including a photo of the gift or a tracking number to guarantee that the present doesn't get lost in transit. Just remember to put the card in the designated drop-off spot (usually located near the guestbook during cocktail hour) as soon as possible. "I don't know how many times guests have approached me late at night wondering where the cards go!" says Culver.