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How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Posted by on Mar. 11, 2016 at 11:51 AM
  • 9 Replies

How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

If you've been playing "the price is right" with wedding gifts, you're not alone -- we promise. It can be hard enough figuring out how much to spend on a wedding present for your sister, let alone for your cordial but not close ex–best friend from high school. 

Luckily, there is a secret formula, and Sue Fox, founder of the Etiquette Survival Group and author of Wedding Etiquette for Dummies, Business Etiquette for Dummies, and Etiquette for Dummies, was gracious enough to share it with us.

"The appropriate amount for the wedding gift is generally based on your relationship to the couple," Fox explains. "The closer you are to the bride or groom, the more expensive the gift."

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Though it depends on your financial situation and your relationships, here are Fox's general guidelines to follow:

  • Close family member: $100–$200
  • Distant family member: $50–$100
  • Best friend: $100–$200
  • Good friend: $75–$150
  • Distant or old friend: $50–$100
  • Colleague or coworker: $50–$100

But unfortunately, that's not all you need to consider.

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"The style of the wedding, whether it's formal or casual, shouldn't determine what you spend," Fox says. "Though, attending a destination wedding may warrant less money spent on the gift. You also need to take into consideration the pre-wedding events that may require gifts, such as a wedding shower, and consider your total budget."

Fox says that you should be careful not to overspend: While sticking close to $50 is fine if you're on a tight budget, spending too much on a wedding gift for someone who's not in your immediate family can come across as flaunting your wealth.

"Lavish gifts are not necessarily a show of love," she says, "and being an over-giver can send the wrong message."

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Same rules apply if the couple specified that they'd prefer cash to cover the wedding or honeymoon cost, or if they'd rather have an "experience" gift paid for by the group -- just pick an amount in the suggested range that you feel comfortable with.

There may also be constraints that come from family customs, so Fox recommends checking with your relatives if there's a wedding in your extended family.

"You may be expected to give a certain type of gift, or a gift of a certain value," she explains. "Be alert for the family tradition that calls for cash gifts for the bride."

It's a lot to remember, but gift-giving is tricky business, especially when we're talking about people you don't know that well. But when in doubt, go conservative. (Just not too conservative, okay?)

How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

by on Mar. 11, 2016 at 11:51 AM
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Replies (1-9):
by BL on Mar. 11, 2016 at 1:07 PM

It depends on the person/people getting married. Usually between $50 - $100

by Bronze Member on Mar. 11, 2016 at 4:22 PM

so many factors at play.  relationship to the couple, location (if i have to travel or not), if i can attend or not, other events in couples life (like a baby shower shortly before/after wedding ;o), my finances & my intuition.  

i'm pretty good about reading couples & their "longevity", for example when one of my close friends from childhood got married to his first wife i couldn't make myself attend the nuptuals let alone give them any type of gift.  i knew it wouldn't last!  two months after they were married he found her cheating on him.  as much as i hated being right about her i'm glad i didn't waste money on her. 

by Ruby Member on Mar. 12, 2016 at 8:18 AM
I dont think ive ever done less than $100.
Of course it wad different for my kids when they got married. They were both 30, financially independent, I didnt pay for anything in the wedding. But gave them a really good gift.
by Member on Mar. 12, 2016 at 9:32 AM

I am surprised at how low these numbers are. $50 for a shower gift, maybe, but not from a couple attending a wedding.

by Member on Mar. 12, 2016 at 10:14 AM
I usually do about $50. It's a gift, not life support. I imagine we will do more for my sister or brother in law when they each marry since we are so close.
by Member on Mar. 12, 2016 at 5:19 PM

I would say people should never give less than $100. A cousin or someone in the family I'm not close to I'd probably spend $200. closer people we've gone $500-1000. 

But if we don't know the people getting married that well we wouldn't even go unless they were family. 

by Member on Mar. 12, 2016 at 7:39 PM
To many factors come in to play
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by Anonymous 1 on Mar. 14, 2016 at 10:03 AM


It's the thought that counts in wishing them well.

by Member on Mar. 14, 2016 at 10:14 AM
DH's cousin is getting married, I planned on giving $50. We only see them 2-3 times a year maybe.
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