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Top 5 Wedding Gift Card Etiquette Questions

The best advice for giving (and receiving!) gift cards, the most requested gift on wedding wish lists.

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With gift cards topping holiday and birthday wishlists year after year, it’s no wonder the little plastic powerhouse is a favorite on wedding and bridal registries as well. This makes sense, of course, when you consider that although brides and grooms register for a wide variety of merchandise–everything from the traditional toasters and vacuum cleaners to more modern electronics such as charging stations and wireless speakers–all typically end up receiving at least a few gift cards anyway. In fact, bridal registry hosts often place gift cards on the list by default. So what do you need to know in order to properly give someone a gift card for their wedding? Below are the top five wedding gift card etiquette questions I’ve been asked to answer.

1. What is the Best Wedding Gift Card to Buy?

The best gift card to buy for a wedding, bridal shower or engagement party is a gift card on the couple’s wedding registry. Since stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, JCPenney and Target all give newlyweds a discount when they buy items off their own registry, a gift card to one of those stores can actually be used to save the couple money.

This list of Top 10 Wedding Gift Cards will help you get it right.

2. How Much Money Should I Put on a Wedding Gift Card?

Let your budget be your guide. Never overspend on a wedding gift no matter how much the person means to you, how much you think others are spending on gifts or how much the bride and groom collectively paid for the wedding. The only dollar value that matters is the one you can afford.

Keep in mind, however, that a gift card should be redeemable without requiring the newlyweds to spend their own money. For example, if your budget says 25 dollars is the amount you can give, then the gift card should be redeemable for food or merchandise within that price range. Gift cards to the couple’s registry can be in any denomination because chances are good they’ll get several gift cards to the same place and can put the gift cards collectively to good use.

Read more on how much to spend on a gift card.

3. Should I Tell the Couple How Much Money is on the Gift Card?

Yes. Not only will knowing the dollar value of the card help the married couple plan how to spend it, but having this information could prove useful if there is an issue with the card. Make a copy of the activation receipt for your own records and tuck the original in with the gift card packaging. With so many gifts to open and presumably so many gift cards to use, it could be a while before they get to your gift card. This way, both of you have a record of the dollar value loaded onto the card.

Read more on what to do with a zero-balance gift card.

4. How Can I Make Sure My Gift Card isn’t Lost or Stolen at the Wedding?

With a bunch of gift boxes and gift bags piled high on a wedding reception table, it’s easy to see how a small gift card envelope could get lost amongst the bigger-sized presents. As hostesses increasingly turn to solutions for collecting gift cards such as hat boxes, bird cages and baskets, a new problem has arisen–gift card theft. Though not a widespread issue, protecting gift cards is certainly on most wedding planner radars. To make sure the gift you send doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, deliver it to the couple’s home before or after the wedding or send a digital gift card instead.

Read more on ways to prevent your gift cards from being stolen.

5. How Long do I have to Send a Wedding Gift Card?

Traditional gift etiquette says you have anywhere from a couple of months to a year to send a wedding present, but a gift card should be sent as soon as it is activated. While gift card laws prevent merchant gift cards from expiring in less than five years or from being assessed non-use fees within a year, there are other things that could impact the value of a gift card that is held onto for too long. For example, bank-issued gift cards expire or lose value, promotional gift cards expire, stores go out of business and so forth. Send a gift card quickly so the newlyweds have as much time as possible to get the full value of the card.

Thanks to digital gift cards, you can even send an egift card straight to the couple’s email address, smartphone or social media accounts in a matter of minutes. Waiting for the bride to walk down the aisle? Pull out your smartphone and send an egift card on the spot. Sending gift cards quickly has never been easier.

What other wedding gift card etiquette questions do you have? I’m happy to answer your questions in the comments below, on Twitter or by updating this post. Until then…

Happy Gift Carding!

~Shelley Hunter, Gift Card Girlfriend

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