How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift? 6 Tips for Stress-Free Guests

Woman opening a gift box.

Ah, weddings – whether you’re attending in person or as a virtual guest, they’re fun, romantic, tear-worthy….and (sometimes) expensive. Even when you’re not the bride or groom, the cost of attending a wedding can add up. From finding the right attire to extracurriculars like engagement parties and bridal showers, wedding guests can end up spending a big chunk of change on their friends’ or family’s nuptials – especially if you managed to snag a coveted spot in the wedding party. So, what’s the right amount to spend on a wedding gift? And does it differ from case to case?

To start, let’s admit that shopping for a wedding gift has gone through some tremendous changes in the past few decades. While many couples still opt for a gift registry, some are asking for cash gifts to support a new home investment or honeymoon, while others are forgoing gifts entirely, instead asking for charitable donations on the couple’s behalf. Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for your next wedding gift:

1. Weddings are expensive

One important thing to remember when finding the right wedding present is that this simply isn’t the only expense you’ll incur by attending this wedding. In fact, according to a survey by NerdWallet, 33% of Americans say they’ve “skipped or considered skipping a wedding because [they] couldn’t afford to attend,” with the highest number of millennials (41%) admitting to this financial burden. In fact, nearly 2 in 5 Americans say they typically use a credit card to cover wedding-related costs, with 1 in 10 millennials stating they borrow money from their parents to take care of expenses.

2. Keep it personal

The old adage of spending as much on a wedding gift as the couple spends per head on the wedding is simply no longer applicable (if it ever was!). Even if you could figure out exactly how much the bride and groom spent on their guests, a wedding is not an exchange or something that needs to be reimbursed by those attending. The budget for your wedding gift should be far more dependent on your personal finances and how much you are willing to spend. You should by no means have to go into major debt so that your bestie can get the new Vitamix they have listed on their registry. Instead, we recommend spending something in the range of the “average” wedding gift: $113 to $180.

3. Count your attendance

If you’re bringing a date to the wedding, you’re going to want to spend a little more on your wedding gift, simply because there’s two of you instead of one. The bride and groom have been generous enough to host the both of you, so it only makes sense to reciprocate. The same goes for those bringing their kids to the event.

4. Think about your relationship

Is the person getting married a close friend, or just an acquaintance? Your nearest and dearest, or an old college buddy that you maybe aren’t so close with anymore? Your relationship with the bride and/or groom is certainly valid to take into consideration when deciding how much you’d like to spend on a gift. If the wedding is for someone you’re super close with, take a little time in advance to budget for a gift that you know they’ll love.

5. What about cash?

While most Americans still prefer to give traditional gifts (an average of 52% consider giving cash gifts “tacky”), that doesn’t mean that you can’t forgo the registry for a honeymoon or cash contribution – especially if it’s what the happy couple is asking for!

6. Anything is better than nothing

If you end up not being able to make it to the wedding, decide you don’t want to go, or are attending virtually, it’s still good etiquette to send a gift – or at least a card. If the reason you’re skipping is financial, try doing something personal like gifting a framed photo of the couple or some homemade treats. The old saying still rings true: it’s the thought that counts!

You can shop our large selection of jewelry gifts that will put a smile on any bride or groom’s face at ShaneCo.com, or visit us in-store. If you’re having trouble picking something out, you can even book a virtual or in-store appointment to get some help from our expert jewelry consultants. Because that’s what a friend would do!

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