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How Much to Spend on Wedding Gifts: Good Gift-Giving Etiquette

Weddings are tons of fun and are occasions to show one another how much you care, plus a chance to throw a great party all your loved ones enjoy! But weddings are also opportunities to give wedding gifts that can help the new bride and groom start a life together or assist them with the immense expense many weddings incur these days.

But for many, it’s hard to know how much to spend on wedding gifts and what good gift-giving etiquette really is. After all, you don’t want to spend too much or too little. 

Let’s break down how to figure out the perfect gift amount for the next wedding you attend.

How Much is Too Much?

Technically, no amount is too much! Weddings are crazy expensive, and odds are that any bride and groom would be thrilled to have someone hand them a big check or get them a really expensive wedding gift.

This being said, it can certainly be tricky to determine a number that doesn't seem to be rude or tacky. 

This is partially because you can accidentally upstage the other guests at the wedding, including the mother and father of the bride or groom, if you spend too much money on your gift or write too big a check.

So there is a magic number you should target. The only trouble is figuring out what it is.

Things to Consider to Determine Wedding Gift Price or Amount

Thankfully, there are multiple things you can consider when determining how much you should spend on wedding gifts without going overboard or seeming overly cheap. Let’s break them down now.

Relationship to the Couple

First, think about your relationship with the couple. In general, the closer you are, the higher value gift you should try to give, presumably because you understand their financial situation more or just want to show your affection that much more intensely. You still shouldn’t go overboard, but it just makes sense that the brother of the groom will spend more than a distant third cousin the groom hasn’t seen in 10 years. 

If you don't know the couple too well, odds are you don't have to worry too much about getting something overly expensive or flashy. You can get them something practical or cute, or even something budget-friendly! In fact, those who aren't close to the bride or groom should err on the side of funny and get an affordable but memorable gift, like Custom Hand Sanitizer from Dr. Brite (especially for a 2020 wedding).

Cheaper gifts can be just as valuable as more expensive ones if they cause an emotional reaction. Something fond or funny to either the bride or the groom is a great idea, so focus on things that will inspire those feelings if you don’t have a lot of cash to spend. 

What Do They Need?

You should also think about what the couple actually needs. In many cases, this relates to their age or station in life. Younger couples are usually just starting out and can make do with the bare essentials – pots, other dishes, furniture, or things that can help them fill a house with the staples are all excellent ideas.

On the other hand, older couples may be more established and already have plenty of material goods, so getting them more would just be a waste. In this case, you can go with a gift card, regular cash, or even a memento or more artistic gift that may not hold lots of fiscal value, but that shows how much you appreciate being invited to their wedding.

In general, younger couples will appreciate more expensive gifts because they may need more things, plain and simple. Older couples may be much less interested in the monetary value of the gift you give them than you might think. In fact, as people get older, they become more interested in just spending time with their loved ones!

Look at various gift guides based on what the couple enjoys or what their hobbies are. For instance, are they interested in cosmetics, or do they love animals? This gift guide should have plenty of ideas so you don’t have to default to writing a check.

Age of the Couple

The age of the couple matters a lot as well, for similar reasons as touched on above.

Older folks usually have more material goods and money to go around, so getting them something expensive isn't necessarily important. On the flip side, younger couples are often broke in more ways than one. Get them something expensive or slip them a hefty check, and they're sure to be appreciative, especially since weddings can be terribly pricey!

Match the Cost for Hosting You

One great rule of thumb to remember is to just match the cost, estimated or known, that the hosts had for each of their guests. You can attempt to sleuth your way to an answer here with some careful questions and Googling. Try to calculate how much money the bride and groom are spending on every guest when you calculate seating, food, and how much the venue costs.

You can even come up with an overall estimated cost for the wedding, then divide that by the number of people you expect to be there. Subtract a couple thousand dollars for things like the bride’s dress and other specific items and there you go!

At that point, try to give the bride and groom how much you expect they’re spending on your seat at the table. This is not only good form, but it’s also likely to be an amount the bride and groom will appreciate depending on how expensive the wedding is in general.

For instance, if the bride and groom are spending $200 per head, you should either get them a gift worth $200 or write a check for $200.

Basic Estimates

If all of this is still leaving you a little uncertain, here are a few good price ranges you can use as a rule of thumb. If you don’t get any additional information, you shouldn’t feel too bad or worried about relying on the values below when picking out your gift or sending cash.

  • You barely know the couple: $50
  • You’re a family member: $100
  • You’re close to the couple: $100-150
  • You’re a best friend or important wedding participant: $150-200 

Money or Gifts?

One last thing to think about: should you get the couple an actual gift, or stick with cash or a check? 

In our opinion, younger couples benefit more from physical gifts, like the things mentioned above. Older couples can usually benefit more from money, as it’ll help them recoup the cost of the wedding that much more quickly. But either can work, and it depends on how sentimental the bride and groom are as well--while a lot of people will appreciate a nice check, others will be much happier receiving an engraved cutting board or a personalized memento. 

Remember, the real point of the wedding is to get everyone together and celebrate the love of the happy couple. The gifts are just the cherry on top!

Summary

All in all, try not to sweat too much when thinking about how much you should spend on wedding gifts. So long as you don’t show up empty-handed to the wedding, or you don’t try to upstage the mother and father of the bride and groom, you’ll do fine. The couple will likely just be thrilled that you attended.

The one exception to this, of course, is if you are the mother or father of the bride or groom! In that case, go nuts! It’s your right to spend tons of money on your son or daughter’s wedding!

Remember to check our site for more fantastic gift ideas and for future guides on great health gifts and products.

Sources

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/how-much-does-average-wedding-cost

https://www.brides.com/average-wedding-dress-cost

https://www.stlouisfed.org/on-the-economy/2017/october/long-term-income-wealth-gains-favor-older-americans

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