Bride and Groom Gift Exchange: Is That a Thing?

June 28 2020 – Mike Yarbrough

wedding gift

wedding gift

A lot of people (mostly men) have no idea that there is a tradition of the bride and groom exchanging wedding gifts. To be fair, it's not a tradition that every couple adheres to. Still, it's one that you and your spouse should definitely be on the same page about. 

If you're one of the people who isn’t familiar with this particular custom, consider this a friendly reminder. Also, you're welcome. 

Origins of Wedding Gifts

The origins of the bride and groom gift exchange aren't entirely clear, but traditions surrounding wedding gifts have gone through many permutations over the centuries. It most likely began with the tradition of the dowry, thousands of years ago.

In those days, a dowry was paid for the bride to compensate for the cost of the wedding and make it easier for the bride and groom to start their lives together. Of course, many dowries went to the parents of the bride rather than to the couple getting married. Also, the whole concept of a dowry feels a little... icky by today's standards. 

Modern gift-giving at weddings caught on in the U.S. with the introduction of the bridal registry in the 1920s. Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago introduced the first bridal registry in 1924 and the idea of giving wedding presents became more of a modern tradition as the 20th century rolled along. Somewhere along the line, the bride and groom gift exchange became an offshoot of that idea.

The Bride and Groom Gift Exchange

It has become customary for brides and grooms to exchange gifts, as well as vows and rings, when they get married. You might call it an "optional tradition." Some couples exchange gifts the night before the wedding, the morning of the wedding, and some exchange the gifts after the ceremony is complete. Other couples decide to skip the gift exchange altogether because they've already spent an astronomical sum of money on their wedding, and already exchanged a deeply meaningful set of vows and rings.

The type of gift you give is equally open to your own interpretation. Some couples like to exchange useful gifts for their wedding day, such as a necklace for the bride and cufflinks for the groom, to be worn during the ceremony. Others choose to give a small but meaningful token of their love, while a few may even make the gift exchange a big moment involving expensive gifts.

Choosing Your Gifts

The purpose of the bride and groom gift exchange is usually to give each other something meaningful, not to spend a lot of money on a trinket. Chances are, you and your beloved will be getting a lot of wedding gifts as a couple, so the bride and groom gift exchange isn't so much about the gifts themselves. It's more about the act of solidifying your love in a meaningful way.

wedding day gifts

Much like the rings you exchange, the gifts you give each other should represent your love and commitment in a way that holds some deep meaning for you and your spouse. Some ideas for the bride and groom gift exchange include

  • Framed photos from an important moment in your relationship
  • Something that you can each wear during the wedding, such as cufflinks or a tie clip for the groom, and a bracelet or necklace for the bride.
  • A treasured book of poetry that has meaning for you both
  • Items that will be useful on your honeymoon (like a pair of sunglasses or snorkels if you're going to a sunny beach destination)
  • A gift box filled with some of your significant other's favorite things
  • An object or souvenir from an important moment or experience early in your relationship. 

It's also worth keeping in mind that the gifts you exchange don't have to be physical objects. Some of the most meaningful gifts can be shared moments and experiences. Your wedding gift could be a surprise performance during the reception, a couples' photo shoot, a scrapbook of your time together, or a personal love letter, poem or song. 

One of the biggest changes in wedding presents in recent years has been a shift away from the idea of giving expensive trinkets and objects, and instead focusing on meaningful gift exchanges that celebrate a couple's love for each other.

As makers of hand-crafted wedding bands that each tell a unique story, this is a tradition that we can definitely get behind here at Rustic & Main. Take our ring style quiz to find out which of our ring collections best suits your particular style. and tells your unique story.

Tagged: bride and groom, wedding