How Much Money Should be Spent on a Wedding Gift?

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One of the questions that many wedding guests struggle with is how much to spend on the happy couple’s wedding gift.  This is a tricky question to be sure, because the appropriate amount is highly dependent on the situation and the couple’s relationship with you.  Here are a few rules of thumb for figuring this out.

In the past, the primary rule of thumb was that the approximate value of the wedding gift should be commensurate with the value of the guest’s “seat” at the wedding reception.  So if the reception costs $75 a head, then the old rule would suggest spending $75 on the gift.  However this is a flawed way to think about it because it’s a gift – not the price of admission.  As such, there should be no correlation between how much your dinner costs and how much the gift costs.

Instead, cater the cost of the gift to the nature of your relationship with the bride or groom.  For example, you should spend approximately $150-$200 on the gift if it’s for a close friend or family member, $100-$150 for second-tier friends and family members, $100-$125 for co-workers and $75-$100 for neighbors or acquaintances.

Of course, these are general rules of thumb and are certainly not set in stone.  If you’re tight on cash, then it is perfectly acceptable to spend less on the gift, but nonetheless try to spend at least $50.  Similarly, if it’s a destination wedding that involves travel expenses, then it’s acceptable to spend a little less on the gift.  Finally, if you’re in the bridal party, then there is less of an expectation that your gift will break the bank.  This is because, let’s face it, as a member of the bridal party you’ve expressed your love for the bride by the time and effort you’ve spent getting ready for the wedding (not to mention the added expenses of getting a bridesmaid dress, going to the salon for your wedding hairstyle and makeup, the bachelorette party, etc.).

The bottom line is that your wedding gift is a token of your affection for the bride and/or groom, so the value of it should reflect the degree of your appreciation in this regard.  It is not a financial transaction! Thus, the key driver of determining the cost of the wedding gift should be how close you are to the happy couple. 

The rules of thumb I presented here definitely represent a great starting point, but I encourage you to make your final determination based upon your own specific situation. As they say, it’s the thought that counts. Keep this in mind at all times, and you’ll be just fine.  Good luck!

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