By CATHI AYCOCK

We are poised for wedding season with thick white envelopes arriving in the mail inviting us to share the special day with friends and family.

If you want to actually stay friends with the bride and groom you’ll follow a few wedding gift rules.     

A fun wedding gift? Some special bottles of wine for the “firsts” in the newlywed’s life.

Timeline
You technically have a year after the wedding to send a gift.  The optimum window for a gift however, is mailing the gift two weeks prior to the wedding. If you wait, the chance that you’ll forget grows exponentially. And the chance your friends in wedded bliss friends will feel snubbed by your lack of social manners.

Spend
Let your budget and relationship to the couple dictate how much you spend. A rule of thumb has traditionally been to spend about what the reception meal costs. But if that is beyond your means, look for a gift that is personal not pricey.

Registry Rules
If the couple has a gift registry at local retailers, choosing a gift is easy. But if their picks are too pricey, or if the other guests beat you to everything they registered for, you can choose something they didn’t register for. If you have something special in mind and it isn’t on the register, gift away. Registries are meant to help you gift, but are not set in stone.

Noted
To make your gift personal, no matter the price or whether it is a registry pick or not, include a note that offers best wishes with line or two that is personal. “I’m thrilled for you both and hope the enclosed platter will serve up memorable meals for years to come.”

Wedding Party Per 
If you are in the wedding party you may receive invitations to multiple showers. Decide on your total gift budget and divide it per gift. Choose smaller gifts for the pre-wedding events and then the remainder of the budget on the wedding gift.