Wediquette Wednesday: Is it OK to give an etiquette book as an engagement gift?

Each Wednesday, we tackle wedding etiquette. At times, it’s a reader question or one from a colleague, friend or family member and other times we’ll cover a popular issue. (Note: Questions may be edited for clarity and brevity.)

Question: My niece recently got engaged and I’m shopping for a gift to bring to the engagement party. A few months ago, while discussing the possibility of the engagement happening in the near future, she expressed concern over knowing the proper etiquette during the wedding planning process, for the Big Day and for things like sending thank you cards after the wedding. She’s a thoughtful young lady and I have no doubt she’ll do everything beautifully but was thinking she might have more confidence if she had a reference. My own “Emily Post’s Etiquette” aka “The Big Blue Book” has been an invaluable resource throughout my adulthood, so I thought I’d gift her the newest edition, which came out this month. Is it OK to give an etiquette book as an engagement gift?

Answer: What a thoughtful idea. I agree with you that it would make a lovely gift and may boost her confidence, especially during the planning process. However, might I suggest gifting it to her privately prior to the engagement party? This way, if she is shy about her perceived lack of knowledge about etiquette, she won’t have to face opening the book in front of a group of people. Also, giving it in front of others might be viewed as a sign that you think she lacks manners, which of course couldn’t be farther from the truth of your intentions. Since engagement gifts are, after all, optional, it won’t seem odd if you don’t bring a gift to the party. Or you can always give a token gift during the celebration. Meanwhile, perhaps you could treat her to lunch or brunch and present the book at that time. Tell her what you wrote about her concerns, boosting her confidence and how helpful your edition has been to you over the years. I’m sure it will become a similarly invaluable resource to her and she will think of you each time she uses it. 

Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question? Respond in the comments or email

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