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Wedding Planning Basics: How to Prevent Wedding Gift Theft

A real couple shares their story, plus 7 things you can do to avoid the same fate.

Photo: Andrew McCaul

Michael and Tricia DelGaudio had a perfect wedding day. But the day after their wedding reception at a bistro in Brooklyn, New York, the couple realized something was amiss. "When we opened the card box, we realized that there was a tear in the top, and only six or so cards were inside," Michael says.

How it Happened

The couple began to retrace the evening and remembered a well-dressed man who everyone assumed was a guest -- after the wedding, they learned that he even chatted up other guests, telling one person he was a friend of the groom's family, and another that he met the bride at an art exhibit. The mystery man had stolen most of the couple's wedding gifts, and despite the fact that he showed up in numerous pictures taken during the evening, police closed the case due to lack of evidence, and the presents were never recovered.

An Unhappy Pattern

Michael and Tricia soon discovered that wedding gift theft is far from unheard of -- Michael's cousin and his best man's mother also had presents stolen from their weddings. Though it's unpleasant to think you're vulnerable at your own reception, the reality is that a wedding crasher or staff member can all-too-easily get away with stealing your gifts when everyone else is distracted and having fun.

What You Can Do

  • Create an online registry and have the presents sent directly to your house (or another family member's house, like your mom's). The best way to ensure nothing is stolen is to spread the word that you'd prefer presents mailed to your residence rather than brought to the reception.
  • Place your gift table far from an exit to make it more difficult for anyone who's trying to steal your presents, or...
  • Forgo having a gift table all together. Instead, visit each table during the reception so that guests have the opportunity to hand you envelopes of cash or checks -- but only if they wish to do so. You should never ask for cash.
  • If you spot a wedding crasher, don't be polite and ignore them. Ask your day-of coordinator or an attendant to ask the crasher to leave.
  • Ask a trustworthy friend to act as gift attendant. Ask him to store the gifts in a secure place (like a locked room) rather than displaying them in the open.
  • If your reception is large (over 300 people) and the site is in a high-traffic area (like in any urban setting), consider hiring security, both to prevent theft and to quash any other rowdiness that might transpire.
  • Think about buying wedding insurance. Coverage from a company like WedSafe will cover stolen gifts as long as it's reported right away.

What if It Happens to You?

If you're a victim of wedding gift theft, report it to the police as soon as possible. Get in touch with your reception site to see if there are any security cameras that may have caught the crime on tape.

Perhaps the toughest part will be explaining the situation to your guests (after all, you really can't write thank-you notes for gifts you never received). One approach is to send an email to as many guests as you can and give them a rundown of what happened; ask them to spread the word to those whose email addresses you don't have. And then send handwritten notes to every guest expressing your thanks for his or her attendance. If your wedding was on the smaller side, you could call each guest individually, though be prepared for lots of questions about the specifics from concerned friends and relatives.

-- Miles Stiverson

See More: Sticky Subjects , Wedding Planning Basics