How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift

by TTMK on May 12, 2014 · 10 comments

how much should you spend on a wedding giftI have a wedding coming up, the first one I’ve attended in a few years.  It seemed like there were weddings for me to attend all the time about a decade ago, and that probably happens for a lot of people.  As we pass through a certain age bracket, it seems like that’s when many of our peers go through this stage of life.

Now that it’s been a while, I remembered that I would need to buy a gift.  Should I go off the registry? Or, should I give something else.  Perhaps, the gift might even be cash.  Clearly, the type of gift to be purchased is a decision to be made.

Related to that, it also comes to mind that we need to make decision on how much to spend on a wedding gift.

Now, I’m not sure that there is a right or wrong way to approach this.  Perhaps there is some sort of etiquette or standard that be followed by some, but there are different guidelines that we might follow.   Here are a few ways to decide how much money you should spend on a wedding gift:

How Close You are to the Couple

Taking this approach, you spend money on a gift based on how close your friendship is to the couple (or either the bride or groom individually).  For example, it you are going to the wedding of a longtime close friend, you would spend more than you would on an acquaintance.  You might spend differently for family members or coworkers as well.

How Much the Couple is Spending on the Wedding and Reception

This way of determining how much to spend takes into account how much they spend.  As in, the more the couple getting married seems to be spending on their big day, the bigger the gift you would give them.  A couple having a simple wedding and reception in a low-cost locale with modest food would get a lesser gift than the couple who is spending big bucks for a first class reception hall with expensive food.

How Much You’re Already Spending to Attend the Wedding

Let’s say that you have two weddings to attend, for Couple A and Couple B.  You’re equally close to each couple, and both will have equally grand weddings.  However, for Couple A you don’t have to leave town, and for Couple B you’ll have to fly across the country and pay for airfare and lodging.  Using this approach, you would pay more for a gift for Couple A.

Spending the Same Amount for Every Wedding

In this case, you would treat everybody equally in terms of how much you spend on a gift.  Nobody can get offended (hopefully), and your conscience can be clear.  However, this ignores the other aspects noted above.

Bottom Line:  There are different ways to decide how much to spend on a wedding gift, and we can choose the one that works best for us.  Personally, I like the idea of treating people the same way and giving a roughly equal gift to everyone.

My Questions for You

How do you decide how much to pay for wedding gifts?

What do you think of these different approaches?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

The First Million is the Hardest May 12, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I think how much you’re spending to attend the wedding should play a factor. If you’re traveling a long way, or if it’s a destination wedding I think it’s perfectly fine to give a smaller gift.

We spend the same amount on each wedding, we usually write a check and keep it simple 🙂


TTMK May 16, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Those travel costs can really add up. If you’re spending $1,000 on travel, for example, that can be much more than you’d pay on gifts for a local wedding.


Kasia May 13, 2014 at 6:25 am

It depends on how close I am to the bride and/or groom. Generally it would be around $100 regardless of my outlay to attend the wedding itself. If it were a close friend or family member I’d double that. And I always prefer to give a gift of cash, it’s generally more appreciated and the bride and groom can do what they see fit with it.


TTMK May 16, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Cash has its advantages, no doubt. Personally, I liked such gifts.


Michelle May 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm

We go by $100 per friends, $200 for family, $300+ for close family as long as we are not in the bridal party. If we are in the bridal party, we generally reduce everything to $100-150 no matter who they are.


TTMK May 16, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Makes sense to take into consideration how much you’re spending if you’re in the wedding, totally easy to get that way of doing it.


Peter May 15, 2014 at 5:35 pm

It all depends on who. I stick with $100 for everyone and $300-$1000 for close family and friends.


TTMK May 16, 2014 at 10:37 pm

$1000 is quite a gift! Suddenly, I don’t perceive myself as being as generous anymore 🙂


Poor Student May 17, 2014 at 8:26 am

I like your approaches! I think these are a good way to determine how much money you should spend. But I think the closer you are with a person, it doesn’t really matter how much you spend — although you shouldn’t be cheap — and give them something meaningful instead.


Lydia August 24, 2014 at 9:02 am

I would say $100-150/head is reasonable. Maybe I will feel differently when we have kids, but everyone is spending a ton on wedding costs (especially local more than overseas)! We didn’t expect a large gift (or a gift at all) because we got married overseas and we realize that not everyone can afford both a trip and a gift…but if the wedding is on Canadian soil (or at an all-inclusive), $100/person is the absolute minimum. Even if you’re in the wedding party.


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