How much should you spend on a wedding gift?

Tips on Spending Money on the Wedding Gift

Wedding season is in full bloom and that means your personal budget is about to blossom as well. We all love a good wedding, we enjoy these festive and celebratory occasions, but when it comes to putting down some cold hard cash to buy the happy couple a gift, how much is enough?

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Of course we would all like to say money is not an issue, but these days, it is… so, here are a few tips to keep you on the guest list and keep your budget intact.

The bottom line?

Whole Lotta MoneyWe’ve all heard the cliche’ “It’s the thought that counts”  and of course thoughtfulness is always appreciated, but when invited to a wedding, putting a little thought into what to give and how much to spend is something to think about. Typically, wedding guests or those invited to a wedding, should expect to spend at least $50 on a wedding gift.  If money is tight, plan ahead.  Most invitations arrive at least 4 to 5 weeks in advance, and Save The Date cards are often sent out months in advance, so start saving.  Cut back on small indulgences, perhaps eliminate that second stop at your favorite coffee shop, brew your own at home or at the office.  Don’t order dessert when dining out and maybe opt for a night in rather than out.  Take the money you would have spent on these small life luxuries, and put it aside. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can save up a nice sum to spend on a wedding gift.


Keeping it real. These days, the average spent on a wedding gift is between $50 and $100.  If you are close to the bride or groom, or related, you may decide to spend more.   It really depends on what you feel you can afford.

No matter how well you know the couple or whether you are a relative, spend only what you are comfortable spending.  If you are broke and $50 determines whether you eat or not for a week, get creative! Give a personal gift of your time, or expertise, put some thought into it and the happy couple will be touched by your thoughtfulness and generosity.


Expectations? An old rule of thumb often suggested is that a wedding guest should spend at least as much as what the couple is spending to host you as their guest – or –  the “price per plate” rule.  The problem with this rule is how do you accurately determine the cost per plate?  Better to stick with what’s best for your pocketbook and what’s typically expected.  Depending on your relationship to the couple, if you are casual friends, a $50 to $75 gift is a safe way to go.  If the person getting married is a boss, co-worker, or college pal, you may want to spend a little more, $75 to $100 is an acceptable price range.  And, if it’s a relative or a very dear friend, you should probably budget at least $100 to $200 for their gift.  Most couples have a gift registry, so you can use that as a guide to what they want and purchase something they want as well as a gift that fits your budget.  If you can not find an appropriate gift on their registry, you can always give cash.  The appropriate cash gift starts at $50 and up, again depending on your relationship to the couple and your financial situation.


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As a member of the wedding party, “I’m all-in and all-out of cash!” – For those given the honor of joining the wedding party, your budget may already be fairly well tapped.  You’ve spent money on your wedding attire, a variety of special occasions and other gifts leading up to the big day, and now you have to give a wedding present as well?  Yes, but something small and thoughtful will suffice.  Your participation is really the biggest gift, but a gift also shows your support of the couple and their future together.  If money is tight, and it probably is for other members of the wedding party too, pool your resources and get one large gift from the entire wedding party, this gesture will truly be appreciated.

hotel signTravel, Hotel, and Gifts, Oh My! – If you are traveling to a destination wedding and will be spending money on travel and hotel accommodations, are you also expected to buy a gift?  Yes.  But for those who are digging deep into their pockets to travel so they can come celebrate; smaller gifts in the $50 range are perfectly acceptable.  Most of all, the couple will be very happy to see that you have come to celebrate with them, and your gift, no matter how great or small will be appreciated.

A wedding gift is a way to show your support of the couple as they start their married life together, and your gift, whether it is practical, extravagant, a keepsake, or a personal gift of time, will be remembered for years to come.

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