From setup to safety, everything you need to know about the wedding gift table.
Credit: Walter B. McKenzie

Though it will likely never top your to-do list, you can definitely have some fun with your gift table, or at the very least, make sure no one walks off with its contents once your party is underway!

1. Don't skip it.

Online registries and PayPal honeymoon funds may give the impression you can do without a gift table, but we don't recommend it. Even if only a handful of guests attend bearing physical gifts, they will need a clear place to put them. If people come with cash gifts, much of the money will come tucked into congratulatory cards brought to the reception, where they will also need a temporary home.

2. Cover the basics.

Gift tables typically consist of a table draped with linen and topped with some sort of receptacle for greeting cards. Most people add a little something from a décor perspective, so that the table complements the wedding's style (more on what below), plus a "thank you" sign or message to express their appreciation, but also to make the table's purpose clear without labeling it explicitly. That said, a rustic barn wedding or two have been known to have a gift wagon instead of a traditional gift table … totally cool!

3. Don't just stick it anywhere.

You want it easy enough for guests to find, but too close to a venue entrance or exit, and it can become an easy target for theft (that's a lot of loot sitting on a table while everyone's really distracted by a gorgeous bride). The gift table often ends up near the escort card table, by the entrance to the reception hall-but make sure it doesn't interfere with the flow of foot traffic.

4. Decorate!

Go simple and sweet with flowers and a table runner that match your color palette, or get creative: Cards can be deposited in everything from a cool vintage suitcase (hello French Riviera!) to a mailbox labeled Mr. & Mrs. (yay for moving in together). Engagement photos, or older photos if you've dated for a long time or met in kindergarten, are also fun decorative options. Though you'll be sending thank-you cards to your guests after the wedding, add a literal sign of thanks to your gift table … depending on the style of your wedding, it could be scrawled across a chalkboard, spelled out with a pennant banner, or propped up in an elegant frame.

5. Play it safe.

Wedding gifts can and do go missing. In addition to having an online registry-so most gifts are mailed to you-and keeping your gift table away from an exit, consider a card box that's locked or difficult to walk off with inconspicuously (antique bird cage, for example). You can ask a friend or relative to keep an eye on the table while people are arriving, and then relocate gifts and cards to a safer location (providing they don't miss out on the ceremony as a result). Late additions can be relocated periodically. For a very large wedding, consider hiring security. If you identify a crasher (not to be confused with a plus one!), have your coordinator or a senior staff member ask them to leave.

6. Add something fun.

This could be anything … from a mini candy bar to a date-night idea jar, so even guests who've already sent you a gift can stop by. As a bonus, more visitors to the table means less opportunity for theft. Whatever you add, though, make sure to leave room for a few gifts!

7. Remember to take your gifts home.

This holds especially true if you asked someone to move all your gifts and cards out of sight … and out of mind! Line up some help in advance to transport gifts if necessary. If you're heading to a hotel, ask your parents (or someone else with the space and transport) to store gifts and cards for you.


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