One of the most common questions 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 depends on their personal budget, relationship to the couple, and possibly even geography.
Read on to hear Cheryl’s advice and some spending averages that we hope will help you budget for wedding season!
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?
What’s the Answer?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. There isn’t a 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 (what you are comfortable spending) and your relationship with the wedding couple (or their parents).
Here Are the Guidelines
It’s 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 they’re comfortable spending.
Gift expectations can also vary by culture and region of the country. There is a curious myth that continues to circulate among some guests, particularly in the northeast. They are 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.
“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.”
The amount you spend is a matter of your budget, how close you are to the couple, and what you think is an appropriate gift.
To help, I’ve put together some averages and guidelines for wedding gifts and bridal shower gifts.
If you are invited to a pre-wedding shower, you can split your total budget between the two events. Determine your total budget and divide that amount, with a larger percentage going to the wedding gift. For example, if your total budget is $200, you might spend around $50 on the shower gift and $150 on the wedding gift. No rules here – you can divide it anyway you choose.
If your budget is limited, get creative. Opt for something more personal and sentimental, which may be even more cherished than the practical gifts.
Please Note: These figures are an average from across the United States for all income levels.
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 last year was $113. We all know that 2020 was a “unique” year so I will also share that 2021 is trending up a bit at $120 per gift so far.
If you choose to buy from the couple’s wedding registry, we recommend purchasing early. This way 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 [email protected]
The questions in this column are submitted by readers. The questions may be edited for spelling, length, grammar, or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.