Wedding SZN got you feeling broke? The idea of having to spring for travel costs, hotels, a new dress, and a present for each occasion can be a serious source of stress. As wedding invites start to pile up, dollar signs start to flash–and to complicate matters more is the lack of concrete wedding gift etiquette.
How much do you spend on a wedding gift? Can you buy gifts outside the registry? Is giving cash gauche? In this installment of Unveiled, we get to the bottom of how much you should be gifting at a wedding.
What’s the appropriate amount of money to gift?
According to a study from the American Express Spending and Saving Tracker, the average amount that a guest says they spend on a wedding gift is $99—but that amount is for friends of the couple only. If you’re a family member, that amount should be closer to $150-$200.
In short, these are averages but there’s no exact go-to dollar amount when you’re giving money as a wedding gift. However, there are a bunch of factors that can help you decide.
Salary—If you make more, you give more. So if you’re fresh out of college or still only making minimum wage, couples understand that you’re only going to give what you can.
Attendance—If you’re not going, you can get away with giving less. But don’t go too low, especially if they attended (or will attend) your wedding.
Relationship—There’s no set rule, but of course your bestie should get more than your coworker.
Wedding Number—If you’ve already been to a previous wedding for either the bride or groom, you can give a little less.
Wedding Party Status—In general, the wedding party gives more, but if there were major expenses like a lavish bridesmaid dress and a bachelorette getaway in Vegas, you can give less.
Plus One Status—Just because you’re given a plus one to the wedding doesn’t mean you need to double the amount you gift. Multiplying your base number by 1.5 is generally right; if you usually give $100 when you go solo, don’t go lower than $150 if you bring a plus one.
Cash vs. registry
There’s nothing wrong with gifting cash. Today, with most millennials getting married later in life and already having lived together long before tying the knot, there isn’t the same need to stock their kitchens with small appliances and dinnerware. Unless a couple specifically asks that all guests use the gift registry, most of them will prefer cash, so forget the list.
Group wedding gifts
If you’re really against giving cash and the only items left on the registry are well over your budget, join forces with a group of friends, especially if you’re part of the bridal party. For bridesmaids and groomsmen who have already spent quite a bit of money on dresses, bachelor parties, and showers, teaming up for a wedding gift means the couple will receive a thoughtful big-ticket item, but each person will actually get away with spending a bit less.
Weddings gifts and destination weddings
If a couple is having a destination wedding and are expecting guests to fly out somewhere tropical to celebrate, a lower denomination gift is appropriate. The guests’ travel time and cost would also be considered as their wedding gift to the couple. With that being said, if you do want to get the happy couple a gift but you’re strapped for cash right after spending on the flights and hotels, it’s understood that guests have up to a year after the wedding to give a gift should they choose to.