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the honour of your  presence the good guest's guide to weddings |  1 2 3
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1. Get an invitation, send a gift. This is a simple rule really, and holds true regardless of whether or not youíre able to actually attend the event. Yes, thatís right, you heard correctly: declining an invitation does not excuse you from having to do a little shopping.  If the couple deemed you important enough in their lives to request your lovely presence at their celebration, itís basic courtesy to bless bride and groom with a present.  As for how much to spend, there are no rules -- spend as much as you feel able to afford, but remember: ultimately, itís not the cost, but the thought that goes into the gift. Get them something you know that theyíll like, be it practical Ė housewares, linens, and the usual newlywed necessaries Ė or, if youíre very close to the couple, more personal. If youíve more time than money at this point in your life, get creative with your present (a nice photo you took of the couple way back when, enlarged, matted and nicely framed, of course, maybe a handmade scrapbook).

2. Ask about the registry. Itís not considered at all proper for a wedding invitation to include any mention of where the couple has registered for gifts. Yes, itís a little silly, but you, as the guest, are nonetheless expected to take it upon yourself to inquire about whether a registry exists. Nine times out of ten, the answer will be yes, and should that be the case, breathe a deep sigh of relief: your search for the perfect gift will then be as simple as hopping on over to the store (or even better, the storeís website), looking up the coupleís registry list, then deciding to buy any one of the myriad goodies which bride and groom have so thoughtfully taken the time to let you know they really want to receive. Now, those of you who pride yourselves on your creativity may break out in hives at the mere mention of anything so lacking in personal expression as plucking a gift off a list, but hereís the truth: unless youíre 100% sure that your tastes are 99.999% in line with the happy coupleís, buying off the registry is the best way to ensure that your money will be going towards a gift that the couple absolutely adores. 

3. Donít procrastinate. Donít wait until the night before the wedding to try and buy something off the registry. Nothing, I guarantee nothing, will be left to buy, and youíll be left scrambling around with no guidance as to what sort of a gift would actually be useful to the bride and groom. You can even send a gift as early as the day after you receive the wedding invitation, if youíre super-duper, crazy-scary on top of things. For the rest of us, two weeks prior to the big event is a good time to get that gift-shopping done. If, on the other hand, youíre a total flake and donít get around to buying the gift in time for the actual event, be aware that most stores will keep the bride and groomís registry in their system for at least half a year. Send a gift as soon as possible Ė late is, after all, better than never.

4. Put the gift in the post. Thereís really no sense in lugging presents to the big day itself.  After youíve selected that perfect gift, preferably sometime well before the wedding of course, have the gift sent directly to the bride and groom. This saves the couple the difficulty of having to figure out how to transport all those big boxes from the wedding site back to home sweet home.

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