Determining Appropriate Cash Gifts for a Wedding

Amy Hoover
cash wedding gift in envelpoe

The amount of cash you give to a couple on their wedding is a personal choice. You want to stay within your budget but also give generously. Follow a few guidelines to help you determine what to give.

Suggested Cash Gift Amounts

Experts will recommend varying amounts based on a number of factors, and surveys can help you get a handle on what is commonly given. Taking a look at a variety of these suggestions can help you determine a baseline number to work with when deciding on your cash gift. Common amounts include:

  • Minimum of $100 to over $150 - Wedding expert Anja Winikka to STYLECASTER
  • National average of $160 with amounts ranging from around $70 to almost $250 state averages - Tendr 2016 Wedding Season Report (with breakdown by state)
  • Average of about $50 to about $150, depending on relationship with couple - FiveThirtyEight survey in 2016
  • Range between about $65 to approximately $180 based on relationship - American Express in 2013

Experts generally note that while still appreciated by couples, amounts below $50 should be avoided. In that case, look for a fabulous gift under $50 that has more sentimental value to it.

Making Sense of the Advice

If you take the approximate minimums and maximums from all the advice above, you will come up with an average of a little over $125. The median amount would also be around $125 (disregarding the $160 average from Tendr).

Keep in mind, however, that both the average and the median are just that; many guests give more or less based on a variety of other factors.

Should You Cover Your Meal?

In the past, there's been an unwritten "rule of thumb" that guests should attempt to give a cash amount that covers what the couple spends on the meal. This practice, while still followed in some circles, finds both wedding experts and wedding planners alike taking issue. Therefore, you should take other considerations into your decision.

Considerations for Determining Amount to Give

A number of things besides averages and expert advice should go into your cash gift.

  • Relationship - The relationship you have with a coworker is often less close than your sibling or best friend. Giving more based on a closer relationship is common, although you'll want to keep other things in mind, too.
  • Social circle and/or region - Where you live and the social circle you run in does make a difference for how much cash to give at a wedding. People who live in smaller cities in the Midwest are not as likely to give as much as those in cities on the coasts. Regardless of where you live, it simply may not be the norm in your social circle to give small (or large) amounts of cash.
  • What the couple gave you - Try to stay within a reasonable range of what you received at your wedding from the couple or bride/groom.
  • Total budget for the wedding - If you've attended a bridal shower (or two) or engagement party, you may want to give a little less to keep your total gift-giving budget in check. Similarly, if you're in the bridal party and have incurred considerable expenses, or have travel expenses, you may want to reconsider the amount you give.
  • Personal situation - Keep your personal situation in mind when deciding on the right amount of cash to give at a wedding. For example, if you are well-off, give more; if you are experiencing financial difficulties, give less.
  • Attendance - Solo guests only have to consider what is reasonable from themselves as one person. However, if you bring a guest or attend with a large family, you may want to give a little more.

Budgeting for the Bride and Groom's Gift

Before you RSVP "yes" to a wedding invitation, you'll want to figure out if attending is in your budget. Keep in mind that giving an appropriate gift is part of the budget and plan for this so you aren't caught off guard when the big day arrives.

Determining Appropriate Cash Gifts for a Wedding