Is a Gift Appropriate for a Second Wedding?

Wedding gifts
  Hero Images / Getty Images

Weddings celebrate the decision between two people who love each other and decide to make a lifetime commitment, making this a great opportunity to offer gifts. However, there are some factors that can be confusing.

With the rise in the number of second (and third or fourth) weddings, you might have questions about proper etiquette of bringing or sending a gift. Remember that this is a new start for this couple. It's never bad form to give a gift, so if you're ever in doubt, act on the side of generosity.

Question

I've been invited to a wedding of someone who has been married before. Is a gift appropriate for a second wedding? If so, what is appropriate to give?

Answer

If the bride or groom has been married before, you don’t have an obligation to give them a gift. However it is still a nice thing to do, whether or not you attend their wedding. A gift is part of the celebration and shows that you are thinking of them on their special day. It also shows your support of their new life together.

Type of Gift for Second Marriage

The type of gift may be different from something you would give to a couple who has never been married before. Chances are, their household is already set up. They have all the toasters and kitchen gadgets they need, and their bathroom is probably well stocked with towels and linens. If you give them more pots and pans, they might not have room for them. 

If you're on a limited budget, you may want to go in with others for a nice gift. Coworkers can throw a nice luncheon and take a collection for a gift card. There is nothing wrong with being creative with gifts, such as babysitting for children from a previous marriage or adding extra money for the honeymoon.

Wedding Gift Suggestions

Find out if the couple has registered at a store and choose something from the registry. If they haven’t, consider a gift card to their favorite restaurant or event you know they will both enjoy. A gift card for a couple's massage or dinner cruise will probably be appreciated. Some couples may have everything they need and request a contribution to a charity or special cause.

Additional wedding gift ideas for second marriages:

  • Couples cooking lessons
  • Dance lessons
  • Golf or tennis lessons
  • Movie theater gift cards
  • Home decor store gift card
  • Hardware store gift card
  • Personalized barbecue set
  • Personalized stemware
  • Crystal vase or serving dishes
  • Personalized towels
  • Personalized doormats, door hangers, or mailbox covers
  • A month (or more) of housecleaning service
  • A month (or more) of lawn care or landscaping
  • Monthly subscription for something they both enjoy (wine, chocolate, fruit, or other food the couple enjoys)

If the couple has children from a previous marriage, you may want to include a family gift, such as a gift card for dinner out at a family style restaurant, tickets to a theme park, or a gift basket filled with foods and family activities such as movies, music, snacks.

If the couple has absolutely everything they need, they may request "no gifts." This doesn't mean you're off the hook on giving them something. Generosity is still in order. Find out what their favorite charity is and donate to it in their honor. This may be a gift or money for an animal shelter, overseas mission, water for underdeveloped countries and communities, or health research organizations. Just make sure the charity is something the couple endorses and believes in.

If you are in doubt about a specific gift item, ask. It's always better to give them something they want and can use than something they'll only pull out when you visit.

Other Considerations

If you are attending the wedding of someone who has been married before, you'll need to be sensitive about the feelings of both the bride and groom. This is a brand new relationship with a couple trying to get a fresh start in life. Don't bring up the first wedding during the ceremony or reception, even if something funny or interesting happened. Don't repeat the gift you gave either of the people for their first marriage. That would be insulting and embarrassing.