– AskCheryl – As Friend & Officiant, Do I Need to Give a Wedding Gift?

Should a friend that has offered to be the wedding officiant also give a wedding gift?

Hi Cheryl!
I was really pleased to find your article and information on Huffington Post. I have a question about an upcoming wedding I am going to be a part of as an officiant. (I apologize for the long backstory.)

The person getting married is my friend from law school. I always offer to marry my friends because I can, especially since most are not religious. It takes the pressure off finding an officiant and I get to participate and help with the wedding, while not being a bridesmaid (was in four in the last year and a half, financially cleaned me out completely).

I spent $100 on her bridal shower because I wasn’t planning on giving a gift past that as attending the wedding in Cape May, NJ for the weekend proved extremely expensive and more than I could have done, to be honest. Since I’m the officiant and the bride’s mother has met me several times, she insisted on paying for a room for me (and my husband) to stay there for the wedding.

So the question is, what is the appropriate gift in this case considering I’m officiant and her mother paying for the wedding and the room? Right now my husband and I can afford about $150, for circumstances well known to my friend. I’ve been told that since I’m the officiant and because I gave a shower gift, not much would be expected at this point, but I am uneasy. Please help.

Thanks so much,

Wedding Officiant - RegistryFinder.com
Photo from LA Wedding Woman on weddingwire.com


Hi Dina,

Thank you for writing! It’s lovely of you to offer to be an officiant for your friends. I think it’s so nice when the wedding officiant has a personal relationship with the couple.

As the officiant is usually paid, and you are a close friend, I would assume that the offer to pay for your hotel room is at least in part to compensate you for your service. It also sounds like you are important to them and they want to make sure you are there. If you were not being “compensated” for your service I would think that you could say, “this is my gift to you.”

From an etiquette point of view, it is customary in most areas to give a separate shower and wedding gift, since only those closest to the bride or couple are invited to the shower. Usually, a guest will divide their budget between those two events with less of their budget going to the shower gift. And the amount spent on a wedding gift should be determined by your budget and closeness to the couple.

Gifting is always at the discretion of the giver. In your case, I think you could go either way, but here is my recommendation. Since you are uneasy about not giving a gift, you said you can afford to give a gift of $150 (which I feel is quite generous), and your hotel is being paid, I would recommend that you go ahead and give the amount you have determined that you can afford. Your friend will appreciate this gesture, as she knows that you are on a budget.

Whatever you decide, you are clearly a caring and generous friend and what’s most important is that you are there to share her special day.

If you have questions or comments about gift giving, bridal shower, baby shower, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length and grammar, or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations and more.

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