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How Much Should I Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Roll of $100 bills tied with gold ribbon

Most people wonder how much they should spend on a gift when they receive a wedding invitation. While there is no single figure that is appropriate to spend on a wedding gift, there are questions you can ask to decide on the right amount to spend.

Buying Wedding Gifts

It is customary for invited guests to buy a gift for the happy couple if they plan on attending the wedding. Contrary to popular belief, however, there is no requirement to purchase a gift if you cannot attend, but many people choose to do so as a way to congratulate the soon-to-be newlyweds even if they can't be there in person. In difficult economic times, however, it can be challenging to decide how much to spend on a wedding gift, and there is no one right amount that is perfect for anyone's wedding gift.

Instead, the amount you choose to spend on a wedding gift should reflect several things, including your relationship with the couple and your financial situation. By considering these factors before you go gift shopping, you can set a reasonable and appropriate budget with which to select a thoughtful gift.

So, How Much Should I Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Before you buy a wedding gift, ask yourself these questions to determine what amount you should consider spending.

  • How close is my relationship with the couple? If you only speak to the bride a few times a year and have never met the groom, a less expensive gift is appropriate. If, however, you have been close friends for many years, a more expensive gift may be warranted. Consider the level of your friendship, any family ties, and how frequently you're in contact to help set a wedding gift budget.
  • What is my financial situation? You should never feel pressured or obligated to spend more on a wedding gift than you feel comfortable. Consider your financial obligations, bills, and debts before choosing a wedding gift outside your price range.
  • How much am I spending on other wedding expenses? The costs of traveling to a wedding, taking time off work to attend, and purchasing new attire suitable for the occasion can add up quickly and may impact how much you feel able to spend on a gift. If you are a member of the bridal party, you may also be expected to help fund pre-wedding parties, purchase special shoes and jewelry, pay for a new hairstyle, and front other expenses.
  • Have I bought the couple other wedding-related gifts? If you've already congratulated the couple with an engagement present and a bridal shower gift, you can spend less on a wedding gift. If the wedding gift is the only one you will be giving, however, you may want to increase the budget for it.
  • How many people is this gift from? If you will be attending the wedding by yourself and the gift comes just from you, it may be less expensive than if you are attending with a significant other, children, or a group. While there is no dollar figure attached to each person included in the invitation, it is polite to choose a more expensive gift if it will be given from several people.

What You Shouldn't Spend

While different factors can affect a wedding gift budget, there are certain things you should not consider. Since you, as a guest, did not help the couple set their budget or choose the reception menu, you are not obligated to choose a gift that covers your portion of those costs - in short, you do not need to cover the cost of your meal with an equivalent gift. Another factor many wedding guests wonder about is whether or not their gift to the happy couple should have an equivalent price to gifts the couple may have given to them earlier, such as for their own wedding. Again, you had no part in deciding how much was spent on you, and you should not feel obligated to balance the gift giving budget sheet. What anyone chose to spend on your gifts previously was their decision based on their situation, and what you give them for their wedding should be your decision based on your situation.

Spend Less and Give More

If you are uncertain about spending less on wedding gifts without seeming cheap, there are ways to arrange inexpensive but thoughtful gifts that will be just as treasured as more expensive items.

Black wedding gift box tied with ribbon
  • Many Items: Instead of choosing just one large wedding gift, consult a couple's wedding registry and choose several related, less expensive items. Cooking utensils, bathroom accessories, or different sized towels can be great gifts to bundle together for a lower cost than a more expensive single item. Furthermore, this will help a couple complete their registry with gifts they want for their home.
  • Gift Baskets: It's easy to create a themed gift basket with several small gifts that the couple can enjoy. Wedding night gift baskets are fun to arrange, and a honeymoon themed basket can also be a great congratulatory gift.
  • Handmade Gifts: A handmade gift, such as a collection of family recipes or a personalized quilt, can be a thoughtful and memorable gift the couple will treasure long after more expensive gifts have been forgotten.
  • Time: If you cannot afford the type of wedding gift you'd like to give, consider giving some of your time as well. Offer to help set up or clean up the reception area or assist with other wedding-related tasks that will help the couple enjoy their day without worrying about as many small details.

How much should I spend on a wedding gift? Only you can answer that question, and only by carefully considering your situation and relationship with the couple ca you find a figure that is suitable for your gift giving budget.

How Much Should I Spend on a Wedding Gift?