Tips and Advice on what amount of Money to Spend on a Wedding Gift

by Justin Weinger on July 8, 2014

While paying for a wedding will certainly set you back, just purchasing a wedding gift is also getting a bit more pricey these days.

A recent survey by American Express found that, in 2013, the average guest spent $539 just to go to a wedding, $200 more than they paid in 2012. If you’re part of the bridal party you spent even more, $577 per person. Now, truth be told, the bulk of that money is made up of traveling, hotel costs and clothing, with just about $110 left over for purchasing a gift.

All of this spending begs the question: how much money exactly should you spend on a wedding gift? Below are a few tips from some wedding etiquette experts to help you. Enjoy.

First, no matter what, it’s never okay to not purchase a gift for the newlyweds. There is simply no good excuse to not give a gift if you attend the wedding reception, although sending a gift after the wedding has passed is okay, according to a senior editor at Arrives Magazine, Denise Penny Shepherd. She says that “you can give gifts up to six months to a year later,” adding that “you don’t need to feel guilty or sheepish. Spin it as an awesome anniversary gift.”

Depending on your relationship with either the bride, groom or both, a wedding can become even more expensive. There’s not just the wedding reception but also bachelorette or bachelor parties, engagement parties and bridal showers. Wedding experts advise that you use the 60 – 20 – 20 rule, spending 20% of your budget for an engagement gift, 20% for the bridal shower or other pre-wedding event and the final 60% of your budget for the actual wedding gift.

Speaking of relationships with the newlyweds, if either one happens to be a family member then it’s pretty much expected that you will spend a little bit more. For example, the average wedding guest who isn’t related to the bride or groom spends a little less than $100 on a gift, while relatives usually spend about $146.

Keep in mind one bit of advice from our wedding experts; the cost of the food or entertainment at the wedding shouldn’t be a factor in how much you spend on a gift. Jessica Silvester, the deputy editor of New York magazine, says that “it’s a bad idea to use the price per plate as a measure of how much you should spend on the wedding gift,” adding that “you wouldn’t give your best friend a less expensive gift just because she was having a more casual affair.”

Another bit of advice from our experts is that, although cash might seem like a great gift for most newlyweds, especially considering they could use it for all sorts of bill paying once the wedding is over, sometimes it’s considered a faux pas. Before giving cash as a gift, try to do some checking to make sure that it won’t cause any hurt feelings.

Many soon-to-be newlyweds use gift registries in order to let people know what gifts to purchase but, if all of the “good stuff” has already been purchased and you want to detour from the registry, our experts say that it’s okay. It helps to know the bride and groom well enough to know what their tastes are however, and if you don’t you might be better off just sticking with something on the registry anyway.

These days it’s also trendy to combine resources with other friends of the bride and groom and purchase a gift together. From trips to furniture and even automobiles, this allows you to give a “big ticket” items that, alone, you may not be able to afford.

One last bit of advice is that, even if you can’t go to the wedding, you should still send a gift. If the bride and/or groom are close friends or family, sending a gift with a handwritten note saying that you’re sorry you weren’t able to make it shows that you care and that you have class.


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