There’s no hard and fast rule that the bride and groom exchange gifts before, during or after their wedding ceremony. But there’s no denying that a bridal gift is a nice gesture, an intimate, private exchange that reminds the two of you just why you’re going through this very public ritual in the first place.
Of course, you have to get it right. Too small or casual a present will come off as a throwaway; too expensive will seem needlessly extravagant. So what is the right amount to spend on your bridal gift? Keep three things in mind:
Your means (and how much she knows about them):
She should know you well enough by now to have an idea what you can or can’t afford. If you underspend, she’s going to know it. She’ll also know if you’re overspending, but that fact will be quite flattering to her, up to a point. Spend too much (see diamond-encrusted stilettos, above) and she may start to worry about your financial future together.
Your budget (and how important it is to her):
The two of you have spent the last 12 months working on a budget for the bash you’re about to throw. That context will be in the back of her mind, though the degree to which it matters to her will of course depend on her personality.
If she’s the type that worries over every cent, an overly ambitious bridal gift might cause her more stress than happiness. If her attitude is “I’ll worry about money after the honeymoon (if I worry about it at all),” then your best bet is to drop some serious change on her gift.
The rule of 2 P’s: is it personal and permanent?
When picking the gift, you want to keep this in mind: it should be personal and it should be permanent. That’s why so many wedding advice sites tell you to come up with something like a personal memento of your relationship — a framed photo of the two of you on an early date, say, as opposed to a case of her favorite wine.
Similarly, you’ll squander the effect of an expensive gift if it has nothing to do with her or your relationship. She doesn’t care about fancy shoes? Then don’t buy her a $600 pair of designer boots.