advice and ideas for gracious Virginia living...

Here at the store, working with our registered couples is one of our most favorite things to do. We've wrapped thousands of wedding gifts, and we would like to share some of our thoughts about shopping for wedding gifts.

Do we have to shop from the registry?
Couples often already have established homes/residences, and come to the marriage with many things. The items they have selected on their registry list are definitely what they don't have and what they do need and want. We always recommend to first consider items on that list. If you enjoy being more creative or unique, start with an item on the list, then add to it. For example, if the couple has registered a serving tray, you could add a book on appetizers, or a set of cheese knives, or a coordinating dip or sauce dish. If you want to be completely creative and shop off the registry, then start by carefully reviewing the registry. You can usually discover a couple's entertaining style (formal or casual), their preference for silver or gold, their favorite colors, and their decorating style (traditional, coastal, eclectic). Use this information, or perhaps personal preferences you may already know about, to select an item that is off the list, but will still fit with their style.

Am I spending enough money?
We can say without question that whatever amount you spend is correct. We have seen countless couples excited over the smallest of gifts because it is something they love. Do what makes you feel comfortable. What really makes a gift special is a sincere note from the heart and a beautiful presentation.

How long do I have to buy a gift?
Invitations arrive eight to twelve weeks before the wedding. That gives you two to three months to shop. That is an ideal timeframe. Up to a month after the wedding is also acceptable. Overall, that is a three to four month window of time, and that should be perfectly sufficient. But don't let time get away from you. At the one year mark, you are buying an anniversary gift, not a wedding gift. Of course, we all have times when unforeseen circumstances preclude us from shopping in a timely manner, and that is always understood. However if you simply find yourself pressed for time, or just a little overwhelmed, give us a call! We can select, wrap and ship a gift for you. Many customers who call us to shop for our registered couples, or for couples not registered, tell us how easy we made it for them. We will make sure your gift is lovely, and arrives elegantly presented in a timely fashion.


We all want to be a gracious guest, but when is it correct to bring a hostess gift? What kind of gift? How much should you spend? The purpose of hostess gifts is to thank the host or hostess for the event at hand, be it dinner or a weekend at their house. The hostess gift should be small in size, so you can present it to the hostess upon your arrival and she can accept it graciously, without needing to ask for extra people to help her carry it. What you should take depends upon the scope of the occasion. For dinners, think "consumables." These are things such as gourmet foods, wines, cocktail napkins, and the like that can be used by the hostess. For an overnight or several day visit, you can choose between consumables or a remembrance gift. These are vases, frames, and small pillows, for example. The important thing to remember is to present a hostess gift upon your arrival. Oftentimes, people think that for a several day visit, they will wait until they arrive, look at the house of the hostess to get a sense for her decor, and buy something while there. We recommend you don't do that. That places a lot of stress upon you to be "shopping" the whole time you are visiting. Always arrive immediately prepared to thank your hostess. There are certainly a lot of gray areas in knowing what to do, and that is what we are here for. We are always happy to discuss your hostess gift situation and make appropriate recommendations for gifts. With hostess gifts, it is indeed the thought that counts, and you really don't have to spend that much to show your appreciation. The smallest of gifts, when beautifully wrapped and presented, can have the biggest impact.


When sending invitations for a party, it is now common to provide an email address for your guests to reply. Did you know, however, that the gracious thing for you to do is to reply back to those reply emails? We all know that emails can end up lost in cyber space. So, when you receive an email saying someone will be happy to attend your party, you need to be gracious and kindly reply also. Keep it simple: "Sally Sue, thank you for your email. I look forward to seeing you at the Brunch. Gertrude."


This is probably one of the questions we are asked most frequently. Traditional etiquette says no. The purpose of an engagement party is to introduce the bride and/or groom to family, friends, or a social group. Gifts are not involved. However, in modern times, engagement parties are now very much like showers, just held closer in time to the engagement than to the wedding. Gifts are a festive and fun part of these occasions. So, what is an invited guest to do? If there is anyone who is a trusted friend or family member who you can ask, then ask. Simply say, "I am not sure what type of party this is. Should I bring a gift?" If you are not in a position to ask anyone, yet still in a quandary, err on the side of taking a gift.