Opening gifts before the wedding and when to send thank you notes

I am getting married this August and sent out save the date emails and cards to our many out of town and overseas guests. We are planning on sending invitations in May, but wanted our out of town guests to have plenty of time to book flights and hotel (we have a website that we sent with info along with the save the date cards)

On our website, it contains info on travel, hotel, gift registry, how we met etc. My question is, we have started to receive gifts from guests sent to the local store where we registered. What is the etiquette? Do we open and send a thank you card now? Don’t open but call to say that we did receive it? Don’t respond at all and wait until after the wedding to send a thank you?

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Pamela,

Sending your invitations in May is too early. It would be better to send save the dates, with the invitations two months before your wedding date. The wedding website info really shouldn’t be included because of the registry info. Hopefully this is buried on the third or fourth page.

You may open these, but do not use them and send a thank you note. You could also send note stating that the gift has been received and you will send a formal thank you note after the wedding. Either are good choices.

Best wishes,


We already sent out Save the Date emails that just said that that the wedding is in August but we wanted people to save the date and we gave them a link to the website. The gift registry is a couple of lines buried in one of the 5 pages of the website. It is a website mostly geared with wedding party info and travel/hotel info. Since we are having a BBQ and gift opening the day AFTER the wedding at our home, my fiancee things we shouldn’t even open the gifts until then. I hear from you that we shouldn’t use them. Do you think we shouldn’t even open them (most are not even gift wrapped) and set them out unwrapped on a table at the BBQ to then open. Also, am I correct that I should send a thank you now and if we don’t open it, send a card and say thanks for the gift we will open it (but it’s not wrapped) at the wedding? I am confused.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

You could open them now and send a thank you note. No gift, not even shower gifts, are used until after the wedding. If you choose not to open them, send a note saying that the gift arrived and you will open it after the wedding at which time you will send a formal thank you note.

I’m not a fan of opening wedding gifts with others. And, displaying them makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I realize that some still do this. So, if that is part of your family tradition, so be it. But, I can’t comment on it.


Thank you, thank you, THANK you!!!! I hate opening gifts in front of people and to me the purpose of the wedding is to spend time with our loved ones who have travelled so far, NOT the gifts. I didn’t want to open gifts at the BBQ, but felt pressure to from the older generation and my fiancee. Thanks to your email, my fiance has agreed that we can just have a fun BBQ and socialize in a relaxed atmosphere with people that travelled so far to see us. (and spend more time with people we may not have been able to see as much during the wedding. Thanks to your email we have agreed that we don’t have to open gifts and we can just enjoy the day after the wedding. PS -what do we say to the older generation who asks about why we aren’t going to have a gift opening?

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I am so glad that I could help, Pamela. It make me feel so good!

I suppose you could gently tell them that you never felt comfortable with the focus on the gifts, so you asked an etiquette specialist about it and found out that it isn’t considered proper anymore. Maybe that will help. I hope so [:)]