How Much Should You Really Spend On A Wedding Gift
Say ‘I do’ to presents that wont give your bank account the blues.
Kira VermondUpdatedMay 3, 2019
Years ago, the day after we got married, my husband and I sat around with a few of our wedding guests and opened presents. There were envelopes of cash, of course, but we received a bunch of gifts hand-picked from our registry too.
Then I moved to unwrap a pretty parcel from my old high-school friend, Michelle.
Theyre just towels, she said, looking completely mortified. Thats all I could afford.
Ill admit, I felt terrible toofor my friend who was so obviously embarrassed. Because although I was thrilled to receive the useful items, Michelle obviously felt as though shed cheaped out. And no wonder. One 2017 survey reported that Canadians think an average of $147 should be spent on a gift for a couples big day.
But is that number actually set in stone? Not at all, insists Danielle Andrews, president of The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada Inc., in Toronto. Its so subjective! she explains, before admitting that many people follow an unofficial pay for your plate rule: They give enough to cover the cost of their reception meal.
Usually, if youre giving between $100 and $150 per person, youre good, she says, mentioning that those numbers reflect the typical cost of a dinner.
Here are a few other issues to take into account before opening your wallet this wedding season.
Is It Ok To Give A Group Wedding Gift
If the only items left on the registry are well over your budget or you really want to gift the couple a big-ticket item you know theyll love, join forces with a group of friends. And for bridesmaids and groomsmen who have already spent quite a bit of money on the bridesmaid dress, bachelor party, and shower, this is a particularly wise way to giftthe couple will receive a thoughtful big-ticket present from the wedding party, and each person can usually get away with spending a bit less individually.
Do Bridesmaids And Groomsmen Need To Give A Gift
Its customary for wedding party members to give a gift to the happy couple but tradition aside, wed say its completely up to you. Wedding party expenses can quickly add up, so if youve already shelled out for your attire, hair and makeup and pre-wedding events, you may opt for a small gift like a bottle of wine or a handwritten card. But if the couple have covered most or all of your bridal party expenses, you may want to show your appreciation by giving a bigger gift in return.
Alternatively, opting for a group wedding gift from the bridesmaids and groomsmen is a great compromise. This means you can spend less individually, while still doing something special for your loved ones. Gift cards, travel vouchers and experiences are fantastic ideas for a group wedding gift!
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Don’t Forget About Cultural Norms
Where your budget falls will be the most important factor in what you can give. But, you may also want to consider cultural norms.
In some cultures, cash is a traditional gift. Japanese weddings, for example, tend to have rather generous cash gifts ranging from $300 to $1,000 depending on the closeness of the couple, according to The Knot. Similarly, in traditional Cantonese weddings, cash gifts tend to be rather large $888 is a common gift, according to The Loop Hong Kong, as 8 is a lucky number.
Cash gifts have meaning in other cultures, too, Trumpower says. “Money in multiples of $18 is common at Jewish weddings, as 18 is the numerical equivalent to ‘chai’ in Hebrew, meaning ‘life’ in English. In Hindu culture, the number one is considered lucky, so guests may want to consider gifting in these denominations, for example: $101, $151 or $201. Buddhist culture also views the number one as lucky.”
If you’re attending a wedding for someone of a different culture than your own, start by doing your research. If it’s inconclusive, it’s OK to ask knowledgeable friends if there’s anything you should know about gifting norms gifting according to your own norms could come across as insensitive or even offensive, in some cases. If you need to ask, be clear that you’ve tried to do the research yourself, and you want to make sure you’re being respectful.
How Much To Spend On A Wedding Gift Depends On 2 Factors
While a big gift might be right for some situations, it’s not a requirement. Etiquette expert Lizzie Post of the Emily Post Institute says a range can be appropriate, but for each person it depends on two factors: your budget and your relationship to the couple.
“It’s really about your budget. What can you afford?,” she says. “I do think that in terms of what you might give, the closer you are to the couple, the more likely you are to do something that, if not terribly expensive, is of good quality.”
Pay attention to the couple’s wedding registry for ideas on what to give, but don’t be afraid to see it as a guide rather than the rule. “If there’s nothing on the registry that falls within your budget, that’s when you’ve got to remember that it’s perfectly OK to go off-registry and do something that does work within your budget,” Post says.
Affordable, creative gift ideas can be good options on a limited budget. “Really good and thoughtful handmade, hand-crafted gifts can be awesome. For example, a really beautifully written out collection of family recipes that’s a really nice gift,” Post says.
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How Much Money Should You Give As A Wedding Gift
If the couple have asked for money as a wedding gift, it can be difficult to know what the rules are. We’ve covered how much money you should give and what to expect if you’re going to a wedding from a different culture.
Cash gifts are becoming more popular at weddings as couples move away from asking for traditional homeware items. When a couple already live together, it might make more sense to save up for a big purchase like a home deposit, future children, a new car or even a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon.
But it can be tough to know exactly how much money to give. Choosing a fancy candle they put on their wedding gift list is one thing, but handing someone cash – where they’ll know exactly how much you gave – can feel like a minefield. Some people have rules, like to cover the cost of your meal or to give equal to what they gave you, but others factor in how much they’ve paid in hotels and travel and give much less. So what exactly should you give?
If you’ve been asked to bring a cash gift to the wedding or to contribute to a honeymoon fund online, we’ve broken down what’s expected of you below. There’s ideas for what to do if you feel uncomfortable about giving money and some hints for the best ways for couples to go about asking for cash gifts.
How Much You Should Spend On A Wedding Gift If:
Youre an All-Day Guest: £50-£75
Some people base their gift on the approximate cost that the couple will pay for their wedding meal, but this is by no means a rule. £50-£75 is a common amount to spend on a friends wedding if you have been invited for the whole day and will be very gratefully received. Only give what you can comfortably afford, and if it something meaningful to the couple then it does not need to cost the higher end of this bracket. Diane recommends to always include a thoughtful and heartfelt card with every gift.
Youre Just an Evening Guest: £25-£50
If you have been invited to the evening event only, many couples will state on their invite that they are not expecting gifts. If you would like to give something, then choose a gift at the cheaper end of the gift list or give a smaller financial gift. It is a lovely gesture for the couple to receive but reflects the fact you are not one of the close family or friends invited to the ceremony.
Its a Destination Wedding: £50-£75
Image: Katie Hamilton Photography
Theyre Immediate Family: £100+
Youre a Bridesmaid/Groomsman: £100+
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Theyre Close Friends: £75+
Theyre Work Friends/Distant Relatives: £25-£50
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Gifts From Bridal Party Members
Speaking of group gifts, members of the wedding party can jump in on a group gift without any hard feelings too. Bridesmaids and groomsmen typically shell out quite a bit of cash for the wedding. Dresses, suits, hair, makeup, shoesthe cost of standing by your friend adds up! Not to mention time and effort, since some wedding parties double as the setup and teardown crew.
Need some ideas? Crowdsource an out-of-reach wedding gift that will stand the test of timelike the classic KitchenAid mixer.
Do You Have To Bring A Gift To A Shower
If youve been invited to the bridal shower, youll be expected to bring a gift for the bride-to-be or the couple . However, you can lower the amount spent on the bridal shower gift if you plan on spending a moderate to a large amount of money on the wedding gift. Dont feel pressured to go overboard with your bridal shower gift its completely acceptable to stay within a range that you feel comfortable with for this occasion. A small but meaningful gift, along with a heartfelt bridal shower card, will do the trick. Try gifting the bride or couple with a custom pillow they can use in their home together.
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If You Don’t Attend The Wedding Do You Have To Send A Gift
The short answer is yes. The couple invited you with full intentions that you would be joining them to celebrate, and sending a gift is the proper thing to do.
With that in mind, “A lot of my clients aren’t asking for gifts anymore,” explains Hamilton. “They’re keeping sustainability in mind, and asking for guests to donate to a charity of their choice or the couple’s, or opting out of gifts altogether. Some couples just want to celebrate and offer an amazing experience to their family and friends with nothing in return.”
However, should that not be made clear on the invitation or wedding website, a gift is undoubtedly the elegant gesture, even if you are unable to attend the event.
Should You Send A Wedding Gift If You Rsvp No
If you cant attend the wedding for some reason, you may find yourself wondering if you still owe the bride and groom a gift. The answer depends on your relationship with the couple.
If your RSVP no because you dont know the bride and groom very well or you arent on good terms, then you probably dont have to send a gift. If you cant attend for another reason, like an important commitment, but you are a close friend or relative of the couple, send a gift.
Your gift can be simpler and less expensive if you cant attend the wedding, but a friend or relative should still send the newlyweds some kind of congratulatory gift. For those who RSVP no and dont know the happy couple very well, a card with well wishes is good enough.
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How Much Should A Single Person Spend On A Wedding Gift
When youre giving money for a wedding gift and attending solo, the proper etiquette says you should spend about $50 to $75.
In the words of wedding etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman, wedding gifts are neither mandatory nor costs set in stone, but a show of support to the couple. She opines that how much you spend on a wedding should depend mainly on your budget and relationships with the couple. Other factors to note are how much of the wedding expenses are covered by the couple and your role in the wedding.
As such, research by NerdWallet shows that the average gift amount is about $151 and guests are willing to spend up to $350 per situation. This may see wedding gifts amount in 2020 rise. From buying bridal shower gifts to wedding proper, people are willing to spend more.
The RetailMeNot poll shows that an American will spend an average of $140 on wedding gifts.
41% believe that gifts are mandatory for weddings. 37% believe that even if you got them something before the wedding, say bachelor party gifts, you should still get them a wedding gift.
Now, for every amount featured, you are to double if you have extras tagging along . Again, these amounts are only calculated per adult head, no kids.
How Much Do People Actually Spend On Wedding Gifts
If it feels like perpetual wedding season for you, you are not alone.
Although weddings are romantic, fun and beautiful, they also mean wedding gifts. The truth is that when it comes to buying a wedding gift, it can get a bit confusing. How much should you spend on a wedding gift? Does traveling mean you spend less on the gift? What about if you bring a plus one?
Responses may vary depending on who you ask, and we did just that. We surveyed 1,500 people between the ages of 18 to 65+ and asked them how much they spend on a distant friend, good friend and family member. Respondents were able to choose from seven price ranges: $0-$25, $25-$50, $50-$75, $100-$125, $125-$150 and $150+. With these findings, we compiled a list of wedding gift tips to make sure you and the couple are happy.
People spend an average of $75-$100 on a wedding gift for a family member and close friend.
It seems as though close friends are considered family. Every age group, with the exception of 55-64 year olds spent, on average, the same amount on gifts for friends and family. However, 23% of 55-64 year olds spent $0-$25 on family members, which is higher than the 19% that spent $75-$100.
People spend $25 or less on distant friends or acquaintances.
The majority of respondents across all age groups spent $0-$25 on wedding gifts for distant friends.
Men are willing to spend more than women on wedding gifts for close friends.
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Exceptions To The Rule: Destination Weddings And Older Couples
Katie said couples with destination weddings generally expected less in gifts because they understood their guests had to spend money on travel and accommodation. However, they may still decide to set up wishing wells as options for guests who wanted to give a bit extra, or for those unable to make the trip but still wanting to contribute.
Meanwhile, Katie said she has found couples getting married later in life usually dont expect as much.
Couples from an older age bracket generally expect less from guests, especially if this is a second wedding, she said.
Its not unheard of for these couples to have a wishing well that allows money to be allocated to a charity.
For destination weddings, Monika said she took travel distance and expense required into account when spending on gifts.
I gave differently for a big destination wedding I went to, as I paid to travel to and stay at a resort in Mauritius, so its fair to say my attendance was the main gift. I did give a small present, though, she said.
I also went to a couple of weddings in Bowral and the Hunter Valley, where I paid for accommodation but still ended up gifting around the $150 to $200 mark.
Monika said she had heard horror stories of some over-the-top expectations from wedding couples around how much guests should spend on gifts and travel, but hasnt personally felt too bothered or unable to attend because of cost.
Cover image source: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com