Should I open and use these wedding gifts before my wedding?

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CASUALTY
Photo by Neil Girling

We received our first registry gift (yay!) and the wedding is now two months away (eep!). The gift came wrapped, so we do not know exactly what it is, and we do know that the senders will not be able to attend the wedding. Is it okay to open the gift now, so we can write a thank-you note and send it out ASAP, or do we wait until the wedding to open it and send a thank-you? If we do open the gift early, is it bad form to start using it?I have browsed the Interwebz and come up with a a few different schools of thought on this.

  • The first is that you should open gifts when you get them so a thank-you can be sent out promptly, especially if the person giving the gift is not attending, and that it is probably okay to use them (with some debate on being able to use the gift).
  • The second is that you do not open gifts, and wait until after the wedding to open the packages, use the items inside, and thank the gift-giver.
  • A third school of thought is that you can open them, and “traditionally” the opened gifts would be displayed on a table in the house, but not used until after the wedding.

From what I can tell, the “not using the item until after the wedding” issue has something to do with bad luck, the couple possibly not making it down the aisle, and having to return gifts. Now I don't know what to do!
-rhodolite

As with most etiquette issues, it's all a matter of opinion. We say:

  • YES you can open the gifts right away!
  • YES you can use the gifts right away!
  • AND YES, you should send a thank you card a immediately. Yes, before the wedding. We're obsessed with writing Thank You cards,

Oh and PS: if you need any help writing those thank you cards, be sure to check out this post:

Open it, use it, and write a card? Or wait patiently until after the wedding?

Comments on Should I open and use these wedding gifts before my wedding?

  1. I was told that I should should definitely open and send a thank you ASAP so the sender knows it was received undamaged. As for using, well I had one gift giver say that she expected me to use a baking dish to bring something to her pot luck before the wedding, so…

    Use your own judgement. I got a set of drink ware that is complete and replaces our 3/8 set of juice glasses, so I went with it. I’m pretty sure with less than 6 weeks to go and having lived together 4 years already that we are going to make it down the aisle with very little trouble.

    • I second this, especially for things purchased online. Items get damaged in shipping, or sometimes don’t arrive at all. We have had some things arrive in boxes that look fine but inside they are broken- it helps to start the process of re-shipping an item earlier rather than later! And a promptly sent thank you is never a bad thing.

      If a person hands you a gift prior to the wedding… Personally, I would still open it and use it! It seems like a big compliment, to love a gift so much that you want to start using it immediately. But, if your judgement says no, than by all means, wait (if you can manage!!)

    • Agreed! Besides, I was married before and waited to open and use gifts, and the marriage still didn’t last. None of my superstitions worked, so this time around when I marry my true love I’m not going to worry about any of them!

  2. Technically, if you don’t get married, all wedding gifts should be returned. So in that sense, it makes sense not to take out of boxes and use any wedding gifts you get until after the wedding. The compromise seems to be the third option: open and write thank you cards, but don’t use. That seems kind of pointless to me, though I see the logic.

    I’d want to do thank you cards right away for people who couldn’t come to the wedding, so I’d open them. Heck, I’d probably use them too. That’s just me.

  3. I am torn as well. Our wedding is 3 weeks away and we started receiving gifts over a month ago. I am holding off on sending thank you’s because I’d like to send a broader thank you to folks for attending our wedding and sharing in our day as well.

    I did send TY to the women who attended the shower though, because that was a very special event and wanted to thank them both for attending and sharing in that day and for the gift that they gave.

  4. We’ve opened them immediately, sent thank-yous promptly, and then started using the gifts (or put them away where they will be used when we need them, like camping equipment). A big part of why we’re using them right away is that we have a tiny house, with no room to store/display gifts, whether opened or unopened. It would be impractical and horribly inconvenient to stack them in a corner to trip over or for the cats to cough a hairball onto. The easiest thing was just to put the gifts into their “regular” place right away. So, for instance, when we received a new toaster, it went in the pantry and the incredibly old toaster it was replacing went to the recycle pile.

    Are we inviting bad luck by doing this? Honestly, the wedding is less than 3 weeks away, and we have so many other last-minute details to worry about that mythical gift-related bad luck isn’t even on our radar!

  5. I opened mine and sent thank you notes as they came. It really cut down on the number of cards I had to do after the wedding. If I needed to use it, I used it. It never occured to me not to. And I think I would feel the same for gifts I give. I didnt buy it for you so you could not use it before a certain date!

  6. We defo opened gifts as we received them–too exciting not to–and sent thank you notes right away, so that people would know that things got delivered safely. No point in making them wonder. As Stephanie says, we didn’t have space to display so things were put into cupboards and for the most part used as needed (for the practical things).

    The only reason not to use gifts right away is that it’s true that if you don’t make it to “I do” gifts should be returned, so I guess it would be classy for anyone experiencing doubts to leave things in their boxes. However, it may be of limited value to spend a lot of time planning for the worst-case scenario…

  7. My parents purchased our entire set of dishes including pots and pans. I opened them so fast I didn’t even wait for FH to come home! I have hated my dishes for years and was really looking forward to these! Not to mention Martha Stewart pans!!! 😀 I don’t believe in luck….My parents also gave us permission to open them. We have one other gift that I need to send a thank you for that was not on our registry. The guest is an old friend of the family who lives very far away. We plan to send her a thank you ASAP.

  8. We waited. It was SO hard. But we waited to feel the excitement and ‘newness’ of just being married. It was like everything felt so new and shiny and I know my personality that I’d be less excited about something by the wedding came if I had already been making food on it, or using it on our bed, or whatever.

  9. You should at least open the gifts to make sure nothing is damaged. Etiquette then says not to use it till after the wedding since you’ll need to return it if you call things off. I think this is silly. By the time we were getting gifts, we were pretty sure we were going to go through with it! Plus, we needed that stuff! So yeah, we opened everything and used it and sent thank-you notes right away.

  10. Okay, so what if you get gifts early from people who ARE attending? Do you send them one thank you card for the gift and another for their attendance??

    • I am of the opinion that a guest doesn’t need a thank you for attending the wedding. You thank them in person, and you may (or not) give them a favor at the wedding. Isn’t that enough?

    • I wrote that we were excited to see them at the wedding and left it at that. We also thanked our guests in our programs, made a toast to them, and tried to speak to everyone there, so I think we did okay!

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