To gift or not to gift? With weddings changing rapidly – even more so thanks to COVID-19 – the answer might not be as simple as you think. 

For instance, according to a recent survey from wedding planning site Zola.com, 49% of respondents with weddings in 2020 said they are considering streaming their nuptials. Almost two-thirds of couples (62%) said they are postponing their wedding that was supposed to occur this year. Another 24% said they are still tying the knot in 2020 but are delaying their larger reception. 

Deciding when to send a gift and what to register for can be tricky with all these different scenarios. To help you navigate the unfamiliar protocol, here’s some guidance from etiquette experts.

I’m invited to a virtual wedding. Should I send a gift?

While a virtual wedding may feel more casual than an in-person event, that doesn’t mean you should skip the gift. 

“This feels like a year when we should all be celebrating happy moments as much as we can, and however we can (safely, of course)!” says Emily Forrest, director of communications for Zola. 

If you’re not sure what to send, consider a virtual gift, advises Elaine Swann, founder and CEO of The Swann School of Protocol.

“If a couple is holding a virtual wedding, my recommendation is to send a virtual gift. One option that’s become widely popular, even more so now after the pandemic, is to send them money,” she says. 

While once considered tacky, money has become an acceptable wedding gift in the U.S. In fact, according to a new report from digital payment network Zelle, 84% of American consumers would rather receive money over a physical gift for a major moment. 

What about if the couple decided to elope or delay their reception?

If the couple decides to postpone their wedding date – or even get hitched and hold a reception at a later time – it’s still a nice sentiment to send a gift with your congratulations.

“There is no proper etiquette here, but if you’re able to send a gift to the couple on their original wedding date, and also send them something to celebrate their new date, that is a great way to go. It can be flowers or a bottle of bubbly or a card; it doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Forrest.

And if you already sent a gift, don’t worry about recalling it, adds Swann. “Just allow the gift to stay with the bride and groom until the date of the postponed wedding.”

How can couples create a price-inclusive registry?

When creating your wedding registry, try to provide a wide range of options for guests at every price point – even items as small as $5. 

“Don’t be afraid of the stuff that’s priced very low, and remember that it gives your friends options to work with. I would make sure that my registry is heavily skewed toward gifts that are lower priced,” says Lizzie Post, etiquette expert, author and great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post.

You might also consider registering for a couple of big things, like a kitchen appliance or honeymoon getaway, and allowing guests to all chip in via group gifting on sites like Zola.

What are some non-material gift ideas? 

A gift doesn’t need to be an item you purchase to be meaningful. If you’re crafty, you could go the DIY route and make your gift. Or, if you’re not creatively gifted, you could even get a photo of the couple professionally printed and framed, suggests Swann. 

Even just your thoughts, advice and well wishes can be a gift in and of itself. 

“Sometimes just the gift of your words and writing something really encouraging and supportive and heartfelt to them. I think during times like these, if you’re in a position where you can’t afford to celebrate the people in your life with gifts, remember that you can celebrate them with your words. That really will mean just as much,” says Post. 

And if you’re still not sure what to give, go with your heart. It won’t steer you wrong, advises Post. 

“Any time you start to feel nervous or unsure, people really do get nervous and unsure about gift-giving, that’s always a good time to lean into your heart and to think about what’s the occasion and what can you do to celebrate that. That might help you de-stress and guide you toward a gift or the right way to gift for you,” she adds.

©CTW Features