How much should I spend on a wedding gift? You may be wondering if you need to purchase a wedding gift at all. Read on for our complete guide on wedding gift etiquette. 

As the resource for all things Wedding Registry, we get a lot of questions here at Zola from guests looking to pick out the perfect wedding present. The question we get most often is, “How much should I spend on a wedding gift?” The answer varies depending on a few factors, such as how well you know the couple and how many different wedding events you’re invited to. Some of you may even be wondering if you need to purchase a wedding gift at all. Read on for our complete guide on wedding gift etiquette. 

As anyone who’s attended a wedding can attest, there are quite a few expenses that come along with celebrating your loved one’s wedding. Between attending the bridal shower, travelling to the bachelorette party, and adhering to the dress code, your budget might even be tapped before you even receive the formal invitation if you’re in the wedding party.

Although, contrary to what you might think, “an invitation to a wedding isn’t a request for a gift,” says Lauren Kay, the executive editor of The Knot, one of our go-to sites to find wedding inspiration, planning resources, and more. “As a guest, you have no obligation to get the couple something, but chances are you’re excited about the duo and want to show them some love,” she adds.

Ahead, we ask the executive editor of The Knot all our most pressing questions about how much to spend on wedding gifts, no matter who’s getting married.

Looking for the best wedding gift? Look no further! Brighton Savoy has you covered.

What’s The “Cover Your Plate” Rule?

Once upon a time, it was considered good etiquette to purchase a wedding gift with a price tag comparable to the cost per plate (i.e. your meal) at the reception. Although it’s outdated, this sneaky piece of advice still gets passed around by wedding attendees like a piece of wedding gospel.

Here’s why you should leave it behind:

  • Following this, guideline means having to ask around (or ask the couple directly) how much they’re spending per plate at their wedding, which is a pretty uncomfortable question to circulate.
  • It implies that you, as a guest, have to spend a certain amount on a wedding gift regardless of your budget (which isn’t true).
  • Attending someone’s wedding isn’t a food-for-gift exchange, it’s about celebration and coming together.
  • This practice indicates to the couple that you’re only interested in giving them a gift that matches their wedding catering budget.

Wedding Gift

How Much Should I Spend on a Wedding Gift?

These days, where cost-per-plate does not factor into your choice of a wedding gift, exactly how much you should spend on a wedding gift depends on a variety of factors. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Choosing a wedding gift isn’t about the price tag—it’s about giving the couple a special acknowledgment, from you to them, of this happy moment that they will use throughout their new life together.
  • Try to find a gift that has both special significances to you and fits within what you can comfortably spend.
  • Most couples register for assistance in a range of prices, so while big-ticket items might be exciting, couples also want those smaller gifts that hold just as much meaning, purpose, or joy in their daily use.

If you’re still itching for dollar amount suggestions, follow these very loose guidelines for how much to spend on wedding gifts (but remember, a smaller gift from the heart is just as valuable!):

  • If you’re a coworker, acquaintance, or distant relative: $50-$75
  • If you’re a friend or relative of $75-$100
  • If you’re a close friend, immediate family, or part of the wedding party: $100-$150+
  • If you received a +1’s on your invitation: 1.5-2x more on the gift

5 Tips to Help Determine How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift

Accepting a wedding invitation is pretty much a contractual obligation to get the happy couple a gift, and no one wants to look like a cheapskate when the presents are opened. However, accepting a wedding invitation also means taking the costs of travel and lodging to attend, which can put a severe dent in your budget. So, how can a guest balance all these financial obligations and give the couple a great gift?

Here are five tips to help you figure out how much you should spend on a wedding present.

Follow Tradition

Traditional etiquette states that you should base what you spend on the estimated cost of hosting you at the reception. “If you think the couple getting married is spending an average of $100-$150 per person at their wedding, the price of your gift should equal that amount,” says planner Anthony Navarro of Liven It Up Events. The downside to this logic, though, is that it’s a per-person price. That means if you think the couple is spending $100 on food and drinks for each guest, you and your plus-one should spend $200 on the gift.

Consider What You’re Spending to Attend

Of course, you shouldn’t forget that you’re already paying a pretty penny to attend the wedding—especially if it’s a destination wedding or during peak season. “You’re likely paying for accommodations and even flights, so in that situation, it’s fair to assume the bride and groom are conscious of how much everyone is already spending,” says Jason Reid, founder of Giftagram, a mobile app that eliminates the hassle of gift-giving. If you’re shelling out a lot just to be there, you can cut back on how much you spend on the present—your presence is a gift, too!

Think About How Close You Are to the Couple

“A wedding guest should always give what they feel best celebrates the occasion, taking into account their budget as well as their closeness with the couple,” says wedding etiquette expert Sara Margulis, co-founder of the wedding registry website Honeyfund. The average wedding gift amount hovers right around $100, which is a great place to start, and you can increase or decrease that based on how close you are. If you’re very close or related to the couple (and have the wiggle room in your budget), you may choose to spend more—about $150 per guest (or $200 from a couple).

Know When You Don’t Need to Give a Gift

While gifts are expected at the wedding and bridal shower, stretch your budget by remembering when you don’t have to bring one. For example, gifts are not expected at the engagement party (though a card congratulating the couple is a nice touch). And if you’ve contributed serious time or money by helping out with the wedding, like hosting the bridal shower or serving as the bride’s makeup artist on the wedding day, you’re not expected to spend on a gift, too. By only bringing gifts to events where they are expected, the money you have to spend will go a lot farther.

Only Spend What You Can Afford

It seems easy enough, but this one’s worth mentioning: Limit your investment to what you can afford, even if it’s less than what etiquette suggests. If you can’t find a single item that fits your budget, consider purchasing a few smaller items to total an amount that works for you (It’s also a great way to help the couple stock their home with items that are often overlooked, like measuring spoons or cutting boards). The couple wants you to be there to celebrate with them, so prioritize your budget however you need to make that happen—even if that means a smaller gift so you can cover the cost of the hotel room.

At Brighton Savoy, we offer a wide list of the top wedding jewellry shops to help you choose your best wedding gift.

How Much Do You Spend On A Wedding Gift?

The amount of money you spend on a wedding gift depends on your relationship with the bride and groom. You’ll want to consider how close you are to the happy couple before purchasing a gift, so your selection is appropriate. When it comes to general gift etiquette though, try not to spend less than $50 on a wedding gift no matter your relationship with the couple. Follow our suggested spending categories below, organized by your relationship with the bride or groom:

  • Close Friend or Close Relative: $150+
  • Friend or Relative: $100-$125
  • Co-Worker, Distant Family-Friend, or Distant Relative: $50-$100

Should You Spend More On A Wedding Gift If You’re Bringing A Date?

If you’re bringing a date to the wedding, you should spend a little more on your wedding gift to take into account that the couple will be hosting your date in the count for food and drinks. Showing up to the wedding with a second person means double the thought in gifting. You should discuss with your date in advance if they’ll be chipping in on the wedding gift, and then you can plan out the perfect gift from there.

Do You Have To Bring A Gift To A Shower?

If you’ve been invited to the bridal shower, you’ll be expected to bring a gift for the bride-to-be or the couple (if it’s a co-ed shower). 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. Don’t feel pressured to go overboard with your bridal shower gift — it’s 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.

Should You Still Bring A Wedding Gift If You’re Attending Multiple Events?

Whether you’re in the wedding party or find yourself invited to multiple wedding events, you should still buy a wedding gift for the couple as a proper wedding gift etiquette. Suppose you’re attending multiple events that require a gift like the engagement party and the shower, budget accordingly and allow a certain amount of money to each gift so you can stay within your overall budget. Keep in mind that you should spend less on non-wedding gifts.

  • Engagement Gift: Spend 20%
  • Shower Gift: Spend 20%
  • Wedding Gift: Spend 60%

Is Cash Acceptable As A Wedding Gift?

Cash is becoming more and more of an acceptable wedding gift in the modern wedding tradition. If the couple is already living together, you may want to consider giving them cash or a check since they may not be in need of gifts for their home. If the couple also has a honeymoon fund, you can consider giving them cash for their upcoming travels.

How Much Time Do You Have To Give A Wedding Gift?

You have up to three months to give a wedding gift after the wedding day has passed. Original gift etiquette suggests one year, but with the ease of online shopping and a variety of shipping options, it’s better to send the gift to the couple as soon as you can. You can mail your gift to the couple’s address (or whoever is responsible for handling gifts) one to two weeks before the wedding. If you’re unable to do so, the three-month rule kicks in after the big day.

Check out our list of top wedding jewellry shops at Brighton Savoy.

Other Wedding Gift Tips

  • Use the couple’s wedding registry. When it comes to choosing a gift, look to the couple’s wedding registry first to see what works best. Couples use a wedding registry to make things as easy as possible for guests who are unsure of what the couple needs or wants. The gifts included in the registry are certified gifts that the couple will love and usually consist of home decor, kitchen or bath needs, and entertainment items. However, you’re not obligated to purchase a gift using the registry. If you don’t use the registry, you can consider purchasing a gift that relates to the couple’s personality or a favourite hobby.
  • Consider your relationship with the couple before purchasing a gift. It’s always important to think about your relationship with the couple before spending money. If you’re very close with the couple, budget for their gift in advance so you’re not feeling too overwhelmed when it’s time to purchase a gift. If you’re not close with the couple, spend what you can and do your best to make the gift special.
  • Mail your wedding gift. Although guests used to bring their gifts to the actual wedding, modern wedding gift etiquette calls for mailing your gift to make things easier on the couple. By mailing your gift to the couple or gift handler’s house, the couple can avoid moving gifts from the venue to their home as many couples receive a great deal of gifts. If you’re giving the couple a wedding card with money in it, it is okay to give the card to the designated person handling gifts at the wedding. Avoid giving cards to the couple directly as they’ll be busy greeting guests and enjoying their reception.
  • Destination weddings. If you’re attending a destination wedding, you can take into account the money spent on travel and lodging when you purchase your gift. The couple will be more understanding about the value of your gift being less than normal since you’ve spent a great deal of money on accommodations. When it comes to destination weddings, give the couple a gift but spend what you are most comfortable with financially.
  • Now that you’ve set your budget, you can plan accordingly for the happy couple’s wedding. Gift-giving for special occasions like this can seem confusing at first but with a bit of guidance and a few do’s and don’ts, you can make sure your gift is appropriate and perfect for the newly married couple.
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