How much you should spend on a wedding gift depends on factors like your relationship with the couple and your budget. While guests spend an average of $160 on gifts for newlyweds, the appropriate amount you should spend could be higher or lower based on your personal circumstances. Whether you choose to splurge on a luxurious present or opt for a more practical gift, what’s truly valuable is the thought behind it.
Wedding season is upon us, and with it comes the looming question of how much to spend on a wedding gift. On the one hand, you may be tempted to shell out big bucks to show your love for the couple. On the other, blowing your budget on a one-time expense doesn’t seem like a wise financial move. So, what’s the verdict?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, there are some general guidelines to follow that can help you navigate and decide on an appropriate amount. Here’s how much you should spend to express your congratulations without breaking the bank.
How much should you spend on a wedding gift?
According to a survey by The Knot, wedding guests spent an average of $160 on wedding gifts in 2020. And with the wedding industry booming after the pandemic, The survey also found that in 2021, roughly 70% of guests are willing to spend more on wedding gifts than they normally would.
While this data is a helpful starting point for deciding how much to spend on a wedding gift, you should also consider other factors when making a decision.
Laurens Wuyts, founder of the wedding registry and gift site Happy GiftList, says, “It’s customary to spend around $50 to $100 on a wedding gift, but an appropriate wedding gift amount can vary depending on factors, including your relationship with the couple, the couple’s expectations, and your own financial circumstances.” For example, shelling out big bucks for a couple you aren’t close with may not be the best idea — especially if you’re running low on cash.
Wedding expert Carissa Kruse says that while “a cash wedding gift is always appreciated,” if you’re on a tight budget, consider thoughtful and budget-friendly alternatives like “a homemade treat or a personalized gift basket.”
How much do you spend on the average wedding gift?
Though the average wedding gift amount in 2020 was $160 in the U.S., you don’t necessarily have to spend this exact amount when shopping for a wedding gift. How much to spend on wedding gifts will depend on your relationship with the couple and your budget.
For example, if the couple is an acquaintance that you aren’t close with or a distant relative, spending $50 to $75 on a gift should be enough. But if the couple is your immediate family or close friend, you may want to shell out a bit more. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts, and what matters most is the love and care you put into the gift.
Buying gifts on the wedding registry
As a general rule, you should prioritize buying gifts already on the couple’s wedding registry. That way, you know that the gift is something they’ll love and need.
However, it’s not a violation of wedding gift etiquette if you buy off-registry items, especially if all the gifts in their wedding registry have been purchased. Here are a few ways to ensure the couple will love your gift just as much as the ones on their wish list.
- Ask the couple if they want anything else besides the items in the registry.
- Write the couple a check or gift them cash.
- Keep a gift receipt so the couple can easily return or exchange the item.
What is a wedding registry?
A wedding registry is a helpful tool many engaged couples use to make the gift-giving process easier for their guests. Available at online platforms like Amazon, Anthropologie, and Pottery Barn, a wedding registry allows the happy couple to create a wish list filled with items they’d like to receive as wedding gifts, whether it’s kitchen appliances, home decor items, or candles.
You can browse the registry and choose a gift they know the couple will appreciate. After purchasing the gift online, the registry will directly ship the item to the couple’s home.
Tips to help you figure out how much to spend on a wedding gift
Still not sure how much to spend on a wedding gift? Here are some tips to help you out.
1. Consider the cost of attendance
Accepting a wedding invitation generally means that you’re willing to pay for the costs of travel and lodging to attend. And depending on the size and destination of the wedding, it could put a serious dent in your budget.
Before buying a wedding gift for the couple, consider how much you’re already spending to attend their special day. For example, if it’s a destination wedding in the Maldives, the cost of travel and lodging can add up quickly. So make sure that whatever amount of money you decide on as your gift doesn’t put too much strain on your budget.
2. Follow tradition
Traditionally, the unwritten rule is to base the amount you spend on a wedding gift on the estimated cost of hosting you at the reception.
For example, if you estimate that the couple is spending around $100 per person for food and drinks at their wedding, the price of your gift should equal that amount. The downside to this logic is that it could be challenging to estimate the cost of the reception, especially if you’re unsure of the venue or caterer’s price range.
3. Think about your relationship with the couple
Buying a pricey gift for a couple that you’re not quite close to may not be necessary. On the other hand, if you’re related to the couple and have some wiggle room in your budget, you could consider spending $200 or more on a wedding gift. Just make sure it’s something that will genuinely appreciate.
Other wedding gift etiquette you should know about
- Timing. Wedding gifts should be sent to the couple before the wedding. If for some reason that’s not possible, try to send the wedding gift within two months of the wedding (at the latest).
- Special requests. If the couple has requested no gifts, honor their request, but you can still send a congratulatory message or a nice handwritten card.
- Personalized message. Try to include a personalized message along with your gift.
- Group wedding gift. For example, if you’ve already spent money on your bridesmaid dress and helped out with the engagement party, it’s generally acceptable to split the cost of a big-ticket item with other guests as a group gift instead.
Do you bring the wedding gift to the event?
Weddings are beautiful, but they could also get quite hectic and overwhelming for the couple. That’s why it’s typically recommended that you send wedding gifts directly to the couple’s home instead of bringing them to the event. This way, the couple won’t have to worry about losing or misplacing gifts amidst the hustle and bustle of the big day.
Also, if you bought a gift from the couple’s wedding registry, it should be delivered directly to the couple’s doorsteps. This way you won’t have to bring them with you to the event.
Should you buy a gift if you’re not attending the wedding?
It depends. If you’re a close friend or relative of the couple but can’t make it to the wedding, it may still be a nice gesture to send a wedding gift as a token of congratulations. On the other hand, if the bride or groom is a distant cousin or a co-worker that you haven’t talked to in three years, sending your warm wishes with a handwritten note may be sufficient.
Is $200 per person a good wedding gift?
The value of a gift is not always determined by its price tag. If you’re considering buying a big-ticket item that costs $200 or more simply because you think it’s expected, remember that many smaller and less expensive gifts can often hold just as much (if not more) meaning.
If you’re struggling to come up with gift ideas, take a peek at the couple’s wedding registry for gifts that speak to you and your budget.
What is a good cash amount for a wedding gift?
Here’s a general rule of thumb to consider when choosing a cash amount for your wedding gift.:
- Acquaintance, co-worker, or distant relative: $50 – $75
- Friend or relative: $75 – $100
- Close friend or immediate family member: $100 – $150+
Is cash or check better for a wedding gift?
Both are equally good options, but you may want to consider what the couple would prefer. Also, keep in mind that if you’re writing a check as a wedding gift, only write it to one person and use the person’s pre-married name. After all, couples don’t always share bank accounts or immediately change their names after tying the knot.
Do you put money in a wedding card?
Yes, you could, though there’s no obligation to put money in a wedding card if you don’t want to. However, if you plan on giving money to the couple as a gift, it’s a good idea to put the cash or the check in a nice envelope or wedding card.
What percentage of wedding guests give gifts?
According to data by The Knot, 43% of wedding guests in 2021 gave cash as wedding gifts, 41% gave a physical gift, and 13% opted to give a gift card. In other words, only around 3% of wedding guests showed up to the wedding party without a gift in hand.
- How much to spend on a wedding gift depends on your relationship with the couple and your budget.
- Wedding guests spent an average of $160 on gifts for newlyweds in 2020, but the appropriate amount can vary.
- If you’re on a tight budget, consider thoughtful and budget-friendly alternatives like a homemade treat or a personalized gift basket.
- Prioritize buying gifts already on the couple’s wedding registry, but it’s not a violation of wedding gift etiquette if you buy off-registry items.
- Consider the cost of attendance and follow tradition when deciding how much to spend on a wedding gift.
- Other wedding gift etiquette includes sending the gift before the wedding or within two months of the wedding, honoring special requests, including a personalized message, and giving a group wedding gift.
Know what you can spend before you buy
Don’t overextend yourself or go into debt buying the most expensive or luxurious present. Remember, choosing a wedding gift isn’t just about the price tag — it’s about showing the newlyweds how much you care.
However, if you have plenty of wedding invitations piling up in your mailbox, you may want to start budgeting for wedding gifts to avoid financial strain. Use budgeting apps like Mint or Personal Capital and set a savings goal specifically dedicated to upcoming weddings.
View Article Sources
- Exactly How Much Money to Spend on a Wedding Gift — TheKnot.com
- How Much Should a Wedding Guest Give? — Consumer Reports
- How Much Money Should You Spend On a Wedding Ring? — SuperMoney
- The Definitive Guide to Wedding Rings — SuperMoney
- How to Save Money on a Wedding: 5 Simple Money-Saving Tips — SuperMoney
- The Average Wedding Dress Cost In 2023 and 5 Ways to Save Money — SuperMoney
- The Ultimate Guide on How to Plan Your Wedding Finances Effectively — SuperMoney
- How Much Does the Average Wedding Cost? — SuperMoney
- 10 Simple Ways Not To Go Broke This Wedding Season — SuperMoney
- Guilty of Overspending? Here are 12 Ways To Stop The Habit Right Now — SuperMoney
- Budgeting: In-Depth Guide on Managing Your Money — SuperMoney
- Best Wedding Loans — SuperMoney