This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette" book.
The custom of presenting gifts to the bride has grown until it has become much of a burden and something of a farce, from the absolute uselessness of many of the articles sent and the annoying duplication that is likely to take place. In every case the presents should be in accordance with the means and probable style of living of the recipients, and as far as possible in harmony with their tastes and surroundings. Nothing is more ill-advised than to send some gorgeous ornament for a plain, simply furnished house. Simple, tasteful selections, however, are rarely out of place, and there is a wide choice of articles which every family can use. The variety is endless, ranging from the costliest silver and jewels, clocks, lamps, fans, odd bits of furniture, camel's hair shawls, etc., down to a pretty vase, a bit of embroidery, a picture, or a piece of china painted by the hand of a friend. No one should hesitate to send a present whose money value is small, such gifts are often the most welcome, and a present which owes its existence to the donor's own labor is regarded as especially flattering.
Gifts are usually packed where they are bought, and sent directly from the shop to the bride's house. They should be sent during the week preceding the wedding, and not less than two days before the event. It is so customary to make an exhibition of the presents on the day of the wedding or the preceding day, that it is very necessary that they should arrive in good time.
The display of the wedding presents is a point to be decided according to the bride's wishes. Some people think it ostentatious, others devote much time and care to their arrangement, and it is undoubtedly gratifying to many to be permitted to see them.
One rule, however, is invariable--the bride must acknowledge every gift by a personal note. It must be borne in mind that the gifts are hers, her own private property, which she can claim from the hands of the sheriff, if misfortune supervenes, and leave by will to whom she elects. Of course, gifts may be sent specially intended for the groom.
If people do not know what to send, or what the young couple require, they should take some means to discover, for nothing is more annoying than to receive duplicate presents. It is not uncommon for soup-ladles, butter-knives, tea-urns, and other articles of table use or house-ornament to be given so profusely that the young couple are almost as well fixed to set up a store as to begin housekeeping.
It is customary for the gentleman to make his bride a present of jewelry to be worn at her wedding, where his means will permit him to do so. If a wealthy man, he often presents the bridesmaids with a souvenir of the occasion, a fan, bracelet, ring, or bouquet. He buys the wedding ring and furnishes the bride's bouquet; but there his privilege or duty ends. The bride's family supply the cards, carriages, and wedding entertainment.