Usually, engagement is accompanied by a wave of excitement, happiness, celebration, and in most cases, gifts. Friends and family members take time off to select and purchase items that are of significant value to you, your partner or your relationship. These may be glasses from the bar where you met your partner, a hand-made flower vase from one of your childhood neighbors or friends, or a beautiful gold-plaited frame for your engagement selfie.

The etiquette of returning engagement gifts. Photo JM Emotion
Photo JM Emotion

In some cases, engagement doesn’t always lead to marriage. Along the road to marriage, people discover things about their partner, which makes them reconsider the idea of marriage. In other cases, some engagement gifts can turn out to not be your taste or that of your partner which means you might end up not using them. In other cases, couples are gifted with a duplicate of items they already have. Faced with such a dilemma, is it okay to return an engagement gift? Is there a way to ask the gift-giver to swap one gift which doesn’t match your taste or design for one that actually does?


Returning Engagement Gifts as a Result of a Break-up

Should wedding gifts be returned in the event of a break-up?

The right answer to the above question is YES. Breaking off an engagement is tough, especially when it comes to what to do with the abundance of engagement gifts you have been showered with by family and friends. Returning the gifts accompanied by a note of thanks is the right thing to do.

Hopefully, you kept a registry of all the people who gave you gifts. Referring to the list might ease the giving-back process. If you can return the gift in person, that would be great as it might give you a chance to explain in person why you are returning the gift. Usually, people sympathize with break-ups, which means the gift-giver will understand why you are returning the gift. If you can’t return the gift in person, you can ship it or post it back to the giver. If you have already used the gift, a letter of gratitude to your giver would be nice.

Monetary gifts should also be returned. If already used, it is essential to admit that you would have loved to return the gift, but you have already used it. Go ahead to explain that you will return the money once you have it and apologize for any inconvenience. In most cases, the gift-giver will refuse repayment. Courtesy also demands that you keep a gift if the giver insists you do.

Returning Gifts or asking Givers to Swap Gifts

Engagement gifts are almost like birthday gifts. Usually, you just say thank you instead of returning the gift and requesting that the gift be swapped for something different. However, engagement gifts are different from bridal shower and wedding gifts in that they are about gratitude – being a gracious receiver. So, engagement gifts are only well-received if they are used.

So, sometimes, you can request a swap of the gift. If it is the replica of one you already possess – especially large items – you can request a swap by mentioning this in your request. You might say, “I am very grateful for the gift you sent me. However, I already have this exact item. So, to avoid receiving your gift and not using it, I would rather return it with this note of gratitude. If you could, however, swap the gift for something else, I would appreciate that very much”.


Is it always okay to return engagement gifts?

Most times, writing a note of gratitude and keeping the gift is better than returning it and risk hurting the feelings of the giver. That is why it is important to weigh your relationship with the gift-giver. If it is a close friend, family member or someone you share a comfortable relationship with, you can be honest and explain yourself to them. But looking at the relationship first and determining how returning the gift would affect your relationship is extremely necessary.




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