How Much to Spend on Wedding Gifts


Ah, the spring is upon us, which means wedding season is about to be in full swing. And this year, it's going to be wild. Or, at least we sure hope so! After the world essentially shut down in 2020, brides and grooms everywhere rescheduled their big days for 2021. That means in 2021, many of us will be attending two years' worth of wedding events in one jam-packed, alcohol-induced, expensive-as-hell year. Joy! 

Here's the unsaid truth: accepting and RSVPing yes to a wedding invitation is essentially a contractual agreement where you acknowledge that you will not only be attending their wedding, but you will also be purchasing the happy couple a wedding gift, often one from their wedding registry. And while that seems relatively straightforward, things get complicated when wedding guests accept an invitation to a wedding that isn't geographically near and, therefore, comes with the high cost of travel, lodging, and more! All of these factors can put a rather sufficient dent into your wallet, and then you're expected to engage in gift-giving?! Anarchy! 

With all of these different factors in mind, how much you should spend on a wedding gift is dependent on a variety of things. Although Bev pays us well, we are known for having mini-breakdowns before every wedding we're invited to, just wiping our tears with our cold hard cash that is eventually going to go straight to the happy couple. Because of our now routine meltdown, we've become wedding gift etiquette experts and laid out all of the pertinent information below to create a guide that will help you decide how much you should spend on a wedding present. 

When It Comes To The Gift, What Should You Spend? 

Traditional wedding etiquette dictates that your wedding gift should be around the same cost as hosting you at the reception. Therefore, if you believe the couple getting married is shelling out around $100-$150 per person at the wedding, your wedding gift should be around that amount. 

While this is the traditional rule of thumb for wedding gift spending, the logic does come with flaws. If you believe that the couple is spending $150 per person and you were given a plus one, you should spend $300 on their wedding present. And if you're asking us, that's quite a gift! 

Think About Your Relationship To The Couple

Instead of the traditional approach, we suggest taking into consideration how well you know the couple. Today, the average wedding gift amount hovers around $100. If you consider that number, you can increase or decrease it based on your relationship and still have wiggle room in your budget. 

To give you an even further breakdown, here's around how much we spend on gifts at Bev: a close friend or cool, not embarrassing relative? We aim at about $150! A friend or relative that we know and love but aren't incredibly close with? We aim between $100-$125! A distant relative, co-worker, or family-friend you know but don't know too well? Between $50-$100. 

What Does Tradition Say?

Tradition? Don't know her! Honestly, traditions for nuptials have pretty much gone out the window. Well, at least the stuffy ones! Because we have time, let's name one, shall we? According to Ladies' Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, a book published in 1872, there should be rhyme and reason in the order in which congratulations should be bestowed upon the bride on the wedding day. 

The book sites that the bride's parents speak to her first, followed by family members, and lastly, pretty much everyone else. Guess that means the bride and groom should withhold talking to each other until the honeymoon? We're not quite sure. Unfortunately, the book was written over one hundred years ago, so we don't think we can exactly ask the authors! 

Our point is that as long as your putting effort, care, and thought into a gift, anything goes! 

Are You Spending Tons Just To Be There?

We're going to go ahead and answer this for you with a 'most likely.' Don't forget when you're budgeting for a wedding present that you're spending a lot of money to be in attendance. For example, suppose you're invited to a destination wedding. In that case, we will go ahead and assume the bride and groom are level-headed, regular people, and aware of how much people are spending to attend. 

It is also worth mentioning the other parties and aspects of weddings that come into play. If you were invited to the bridal shower or an engagement party, you should keep that in mind when you purchase a wedding gift. Like weddings, bridal showers come with the unsaid obligation of gifting the bride a shower gift. If your budgeting $150 for a wedding gift, consider giving two gifts around $75, one for the shower, one for the big day. 

And, on to more things to consider: what if you're in the wedding party? Being in the wedding party comes with its fair share of costs for both bridesmaids and groomsmen; from the bridesmaid's dress to the bachelorette party, there are a ton of expenses that you'll incur. In our opinion, buying a gift or not buying a gift is a decision totally up to you and utterly dependent on what you (and your financial situation) feel comfortable with. 

If you're insistent on buying a gift but are worried about the expense, get creative! Consider teaming up with the other bridesmaids to chip in for one fantastic gift! Or find a smaller gift off of the couple's wedding registry. Go personal, go sentimental: remember it's not about the amount of money you spend; it's about the thought and love you put into the gift. 

Fun Wedding Gift Ideas

Alright, we'll be honest: we're huge fans of registries. They're kind of genius. The couple has gone through the time and energy of letting you know exactly what they need to start their new life together. And the best part? You don't even have to leave your house to purchase a wedding gift or raise a finger to deliver the gift. 

But we can see how some may find them impersonal. Unless you buy the most expensive item on their registry, there's a pretty good chance your gift won't stand out to the happy couple. We suggest if you plan on veering off of the registry, you pick something that is meaningful and incredibly thoughtful. Something highly personalized to the couple and what they stand for. Oh, yeah, and don't forget the gift receipt.