What is the Proper Engagement Gift?

Making sure you grab the proper engagement present for the happy couple is key. Find out how to handle the task with these 3 tips.

Richie Frieman,
January 2, 2011
Episode #142


A lot of experts argue about how long a couple should be together before they get engaged, but one thing they can’t argue about is the time of year that most people decide to pop the question--NOW!  The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are the busiest for engagements. Just turn on the television and you’ll see jewelry commercial after jewelry commercial showing a guy on one knee as the girl sobs “Yes, I will!”

What is the Proper Engagement Gift?

As I was saying, with so many people getting engaged and you being the popular person you are, chances are you will be called with the good news right away. Your happiness for them might turn to panic, however, when you find yourself asking “What do I get them for an engagement gift?” Don’t worry; you’ll be able to handle this task with ease after reading my top three tips for the proper engagement gift.

Proper Engagement Gift Tip #1: Don’t Break the Bank

Getting someone an engagement gift usually assumes that you are close enough with them that you’ll be invited to the party. And if you’re not invited to the party, don’t worry; I will be discussing this touchy subject in an upcoming episode. When it comes to time to pick out a present, know that you will also be getting a wedding gift for them so don’t break the bank. Think of an engagement gift as an appetizer and the wedding gift as the main course.

Now, I’m not going to say how much you should spend because every person reading this has different finances and really “money” is not the issue. Presents are not about money; they are about the thought, and I will argue that until I’m blue in the face. For example, my one friend took my wife and me out for dinner when we got engaged. We had a great night with him and his wife and it was a perfect “gift” to say congratulations. He didn’t splurge on the nicest place in town, but then again it wasn’t McDonalds. His gift was a way to spend some time with us and share our excitement about the big day—it was just what we wanted.

What about when it comes to an engagement party? Again, engagement gifts are a way to say “Congratulations”; they’re not a competition. Keep it simple with a nice picture frame, a photo album, or a gift certificate to a restaurant. If you need more guidance, you can buy off the registry, but by all means do not go overboard. If you plan to do that, I highly recommend waiting for the wedding. After all, would you want the appetizer to taste better than the main dish?

Proper Engagement Gift Tip #2:  A Group Gift

In my wedding party I had eight groomsmen and have been the best man in five weddings, so I’m used to hanging out with a tight group of guys. One way we like to give engagement gifts is by doing a group gift. We all pull our money together and get the happy couple something from all of us. It ends up being a very nice present and saves us a lot of money.

Group gifts don’t have to just come from groups of friends. A family can also give a group gift. Wedding gifts tend to come from a person or a couple, but engagement gifts can be from the whole family. The engagement gift is also the best time to give a unique gift. Six of my friends came together and got me a TiVo (and lifetime subscription) for my engagement.  It was a very generous gift, but because it was split between six people, it didn’t break their banks.

Proper Engagement Gift Tip #3:  Be Creative!

As I said in the previous two tips, the engagement gift is the sneak peak to the wedding gift. It has a looser and more casual feel than a wedding gift, which is why I like to go off registry and get creative. A fun place I like to go for engagements gift is a funky store (online or on the street) where I can grab something the couple may not have seen before.

I also like to find a fun gift and personalize it. A really cool gift I received--and then gave--was a personalized wine bottle with a custom label with our names and date of the wedding. Another great gift I got a couple who got engaged on Christmas was a crystal ornament that had the date of their engagement and the wedding etched into it. It was simple, elegant, spoke to the moment of the event, was one of a kind and didn’t break the bank. I gave a couple who lived by the beach personalized beach towels with their names and the date of their wedding on them. All of these gifts are just examples of presents that were much appreciated because they were fun, practical, and of course thoughtful—three great things to keep in mind when deciding on an engagement gift.

Do you have a great story about an engagement present you gave or received? Post them on my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page so we can all hear the details.

As always, if you have another manners question, I’m look forward to hearing from you so drop me a line at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. As well, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter
@MannersQDT. And of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips.

Gift image from Shutterstock

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