Your Guide to the Wedding Day Gift Exchange With Your Spouse-To-Be

Here's everything you need to know about the tradition.
emily rumsey the knot editor
Emily Rumsey
emily rumsey the knot editor
Emily Rumsey
Assistant Commerce Updates Editor
  • Emily helps maintain and update e-commerce content for The Knot
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Emily worked as a website editor and manager for The Paleo Diet®
  • Emily holds two bachelor's degrees in Journalism and International Affairs with a Chinese minor
Updated Dec 20, 2023
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The love of your soon-to-be spouse is the best gift you could ever ask for—and there's no doubt they feel the same. But that doesn't mean you can't give each other other gifts, too. (In addition to the spectacular wedding you've been planning together, of course.) A wedding day gift exchange is when the bride(s) and/or groom(s) give each other a present to commemorate the milestone and the love they have for each other. It can be a great way to calm any nerves and share a private moment together during the chaos of the big day. Interested in working a gift exchange into your own wedding plans? Below, we're sharing how to execute this sweet (though optional!) wedding custom for yourself. And good news: Despite the commonality of the tradition, there are actually no real rules, so you can make the ritual your own.

Are we supposed to exchange gifts before the wedding?

A bride(s) and/or groom(s) wedding day gift exchange is simply one more opportunity to celebrate your big day together. The tradition isn't for everybody though, and that's okay! Talk to your fiancé about the idea to decide if it's right for your relationship. (Just make sure to do so well in advance of your wedding so, if you agree to exchange gifts, you have plenty of time to shop.) Ask each other: Why do future spouses exchange gifts and is the custom important to us? One reason it's often done is that it gives each member of the couple a special keepsake to remember the day and their unique—and now marital—bond. That being said, there are other ways to have an intimate moment on your wedding day without spending money. For instance, couples can partake in private vow exchange or first look before the ceremony. Just being in each other's presence can help combat any wedding-related stress and it still creates a special moment you'll remember forever. Remember it's your day—you can combine all these ideas or skip them entirely.

When and where should we exchange our wedding gifts?

A couple's wedding day gift exchange doesn't actually have to take place on the wedding day—though most couples do choose to do it right before the ceremony. The custom can be a part of your first look or, if you're waiting to see each other at the aisle, you can have a loved one deliver the gifts to your respective getting-ready rooms. If your wedding day feels too busy, you're also free to swap presents the day before the wedding, like ahead of or after the rehearsal dinner. No matter when you choose to have a gift exchange, we recommend asking your photographer to capture your reactions for some seriously wholesome pictures you'll enjoy looking back on. Additionally, you should make sure you're in a private place so the moment isn't interrupted and you can give each other your full attention and adoration.

We want to exchange gifts. What are some good ideas?

So you've agreed to swap presents, but now you need wedding day gift exchange ideas to surprise your partner with. Well, keep scrolling! We've rounded up the best gifts for your bride or groom below. Some popular present options include a watch to commemorate all the time you've been (and will be) together, a picture frame or scrapbook showcasing your best (or earliest) memories together, honeymoon essentials and accessories like cuff links or a necklace that'll personalize their wedding day outfit. And don't forget to pair whatever you choose with a handwritten card. When picking a gift for your bride or groom think, "What will show them how well I know them and how much I appreciate them?" You can also consider what best represents this unique stage in your relationship. Need more inspiration? You can get tons of cute ideas on Etsy, Uncommon Goods and—not to brag—by visiting our very own The Knot Shop. Shopping for jewelry and accessories? Blue Nile and David Yurman are two of many great places to start your search. As for classic photo gifts and other custom presents, you can check out Artifact Uprising and Personalization Mall.

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