Displaying Your Dowry: What to do if you no longer live with your parents

Q: I am getting married in May. I am 25 years old and have not lived at home with my mother for four years. I currently live in a house with my older sister. I know the tradition is that the wedding presents are displayed at the parent of the bride’s house but that seems so silly considering that I haven’t lived there for years, so I am displaying the presents I have received where I currently live. My mom is upset that the presents are not at her house, but it just doesn’t make sense to me to leave them there. What is the correct etiquette on the issue?

A: Traditionally speaking, the wedding gifts are displayed at the parents of the bride’s house, but that is because the wedding gifts were traditionally sent to the bride, who still lived at home with her parents! Today’s brides often live on their own, with roommates, or with their fiance, so it is perfectly acceptable to receive and display, if she so chooses, the gifts in her own home.


  1. Elizabeth

    Do people actually do this anymore? When my then-fiance and I received gifts prior to our wedding we opened them, put them away, and promptly wrote a thank-you note. They never went “on-display” and no one ever asked to see them (with the exception of my mother).

    • Nonnie Mowse

      Displaying the gifts certainly is old etiquette. I barely remember it and even then, only from television/movies. When we were married in the early 1980s, even announcing in the paper was starting to fall away due to the crime element. Criminals watched for dates and knew when homes would be empty of people but full of merchandise. Around the same time, mourners had their cars robbed by people who looked/dressed like they were cemetery employees opening doors for people going to the gravesite. (Sorry, daughter of law enforcement here.) It doesn’t sound safe to even talk about the displaying of gifts, unfortunately.

  2. Jazzgirl205

    I had lived on my own before I married at 25 but moved back to my parents house after my Father died. I married in the late 80s and we certainly displayed the gifts. I lived in the deep South where it was considered gauche to give things such as small appliances and other mundane things. People gave linens, china, silver, and crystal. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, people would drop by the house for coffee and cake and to view the gifts. The bride and her mother were expected to be very sociable.

    Therefore, have your gifts displayed wherever your friends are likely to come and see them. It wouldn’t hurt to take precautions, either.

    Nonnie – My father’s funeral was large and public. One of his friends hired a security guard to watch our house. While the my wedding was going on, our house was filled with caterers because that where the reception was.

    • Liz

      It seems much more gauche (to me) to display the loot. I would never do that, etiquette or not, because it just seems crass and humble braggy. I hope that I won’t get any shade for not doing this.

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