Do Bridesmaids Need to Buy Gifts?

cake plates, flower bowls, bonbon dishesQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I am a bridesmaid for a friend’s wedding. Since I’ve spend over $150 for an outfit, plus I’ll be traveling out of town to participate in the wedding, does proper etiquette require me to purchase a gift also?


A Dear Pam:

My dear sweet Pam. I think you already know the answer to your question. Of course you should get your friend a gift, no matter how much you shell out for the wedding otherwise. The important thing to know here is that the gift does not have to be expensive, just special. Here are some gift-buying tips for you from etiquette expert Lillian Eichler.

1924: Wedding Gifts

Of course, there is no gift like the wedding gift. One can send one’s fancy soaring to the seven corners of the universe and return laden with ~ an odd vase from old Vienna, a carving set “made in Germany,” an unusual bit of pottery from Paris. The thrilling thing about it is that all three may be purchased at the corner gift shop!

Any one who receives an invitation may send the bride a gift, but when an announcement alone is received, no gift is necessary. Good form demands that the gift be sent about two weeks before the day set for the wedding. As to the inevitable question, “What shall the gift be?” the only sensible answer is: “Choose the prettiest and most useful article within your means.”

China always makes an appropriate wedding gift. There are the delightful little tea sets that the new hostess will find so useful. There are the china ornaments that are always acceptable ~ vases and dainty bits of Copenhagen chinaware. There are the odd bits of china for the table ~ cake plates, flower bowls, bonbon dishes.

To-day a gift is not a gift unless it is in good taste. The modern bride will not mar the perfect harmony of her home by displaying conspiciously a gift that is out of place ~ not even for sentiment! If you don’t want your gift to blush unseen on the shelf in the attic, or at the bottom of the trunk, be very careful to exercise great taste and discrimination in your selection.

Wise friends to-day consult one another before purchasing gifts. If silverware is to be presented, each piece is purchased from the same jeweller and with a close regard for harmony in design and quality. If the gifts are to be marked, the initials of the maiden name are used and the engraving is the same on all.

The self-gift method is finding favour in good society. One presents the bride with a credit slip for $10, $20, or $50, as the case may be, and the bride may go to the shop and select whatever she likes. A wise plan. It does away with a lot of the useless gifts that gather dust on forgotton shelves.

We may not give wearing apparel to the bride unless she is an intimate friend. But we may give linens for the home, and such odd pieces of furniture as a smoking table, a reading lamp, a writing desk. Books are always acceptable.

Etiquette makes no suggestions ~ the heart will know best what to give.

Source: Eichler, Lillian. The New Book of Etiquette. Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing Co., 1924.
~ pp. 76-77 ~