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Ask Cheryl: How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

One of the most common questions we receive in our “Ask Cheryl” inbox is how much to spend on wedding and shower gifts.

And while we love a hard and fast etiquette rule, this is one of those questions that doesn’t have a “one size fits all” answer.

The amount a guest spends can depend on their personal budget, relationship to the couple, and even geography.

Read on to hear Cheryl’s advice and myth-busting, and some spending averages that we hope will help you budget for wedding season!

Hi Cheryl,

I was recently having a discussion with a friend about what the average or acceptable amount would be for a monetary wedding gift. She hasn’t been to a wedding in a while and wants to be sure she is giving a reasonable gift. What do you think the gift amount should be?

Thanks,

Mary Ann


How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?


Mary Ann’s friend is like many of us. We just don’t know how much we are expected to spend on a wedding gift.

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer since there is no set amount you “should” spend on a wedding gift (or amount you should give if gifting cash). The amount you spend is dependent upon your budget and relationship with the wedding couple (or their parents).

It’s also common practice to spend more for a close relative or if you are very close to the couple, but again, it’s dependent upon your budget. No one should spend more on a gift than is comfortable for them.

Additionally, what’s considered “acceptable” can vary by culture and region of the country.

There is also a curious myth that continues to circulate among some guests.

They’re under the impression that they should base the cost of the gift on how much they think the couple is spending on food and entertainment.

This modern myth is simply not true and can cause considerable anxiety for guests.

The amount you spend is strictly a matter of your budget, how close you are to the bride and groom, and what you think is an appropriate gift.

 

“It’s a bad idea to use the price-per-plate as a measure for how much you should spend on the wedding gift,” says Jessica Silvester, a deputy editor and wedding expert with New York magazine. “You wouldn’t give your best friend a less expensive gift just because she was having a more casual affair.”

 

To help, I’ve put together some averages and guidelines for wedding gifts and bridal shower gifts. Not every wedding guest is invited to a bridal or wedding shower.

If you are invited to both, you can split your total budget between the two events. I recommend that you determine your total budget and divide that amount, with a larger percentage going to the wedding gift.

Please Note: These figures are an average from across the United States for all income levels.

guidelines for wedding gifts and bridal shower gifts
What guests spend can also vary significantly by location or region. You can use the above as a guideline, but customs in your family or area may be higher or lower. I can share that the average amount spent on a wedding gift through RegistryFinder.com in 2018 was $110.

If you choose to buy from the couple’s wedding registry, we recommend purchasing early, so you have the best selection of gifts and price ranges. RegistryFinder.com makes it easy to find all of the couple’s registries in one convenient location just by entering the name of the bride or groom.


If you have questions or comments about this post, or about gift giving, bridal shower, baby shower, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email AskCheryl@RegistryFinder.com.

Questions in this column are received from readers. They 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 an etiquette writer and the founder 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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