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Wedding Gift Etiquette: How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

June 11, 2019 · 4 minute read

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Wedding Gift Etiquette: How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Since there’s no one right way to get hitched, why should spending on a wedding gift be any different? Myths, aged etiquette, and guilt might have you feeling confused, but keep in mind that at the end of the day, there are many different ways to gift. Consider the following guidelines when deciding how much you’ll spend on a wedding gift.

Seriously, How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules on wedding gift etiquette, but if you’re looking for the average as to how much you should spend on a wedding gift, look no further than The Knot’s 2018 survey .

In the 1,300 person survey, the average wedding guest spent $88 on a wedding gift, with members of the wedding party spending slightly more—$107. It’s generally agreed that the better you know the couple, the more you should spend.

If you’re on a tight budget, $88 might be too much. Still want to gift the couple something, but don’t have much cash to spare? The Spruce says it’s impolite to spend less than $50 on a wedding gift (but, of course, it all depends on the couple).

If you’ve got multiple weddings coming up, it might help to take a more holistic approach to how much to spend on a wedding gift. You could budget out an overall number for gifts, then dole out an appropriate amount based on how close you are with the couple, suggests The Washington Post.

Vogue suggests that if you attend multiple events, like the engagement party, shower, or bachelor/bachelorette party, and the wedding you can employ the “60-20-20 rule.” That means ”spending 20% of your total budget on an engagement party gift, 20% on a gift for the bridal shower, and 60% for the actual wedding gift.” The ultimate amount you decide to spend is entirely up to you, of course.

Is Off-Registry Out of Line?

Maybe you’ve waited too late to buy something off the couple’s registry, or perhaps the items listed are out of your price range. Either way, there are conflicting reports around whether buying off-registry is out of line.

Some say that if big ticket registry items are out of your specific price range, you can opt to go in on it as a group gift with other wedding attendees. Pooling resources, whether as a couple or a larger group, can help you afford a higher-end registry gift.

Related: The Cost of Being in Someone’s Wedding

However, going off-registry is a hotly debated topic, and changes pending your relationship with the bride and groom. A registry is a pretty clear indicator of the gifts the couple needs—going “off book” means you might give them something they already have, or worse, don’t want.

If you’re close to the couple, you might have an idea of the perfect gift. In this case, it’s probably kosher to go off registry. On the other hand, if you’re attending the wedding of an acquaintance (ex: a coworker or distant relative), consider buying from the registry.

Can My Presence be a Present?

Don’t let the cost of a gift keep you from attending the wedding. If you’re traveling quite a distance to attend, or just don’t have a budget for a big gift, remember that being there to celebrate the union might be enough.

You could opt to send a kind handwritten note, or something small and sentimental to the new couple. Don’t let your gift budget get in the way of you attending the wedding and being there for your friends or family.

The Emily Post Institute even reasons you can give something you already own as a wedding gift, pending a few caveats—“only as long as it is in good condition—not a castoff—and you’re confident that the couple will like the item.

Think heirlooms.” If you are close with the couple, this can be a great gift with lots of sentiment that doesn’t require you to break the bank.

Additionally, the idea that you need to bring a gift that costs as much as the hosts spend on each person is a myth. Don’t sweat it thinking you need an extra pricey gift for a black tie wedding.

On the flipside, a casual wedding doesn’t mean the gift has to be inexpensive if you budgeted for more. Consider the wedding gift a token of congratulations, not something given in exchange for your attendance.

Do I Still Send a Gift if I Can’t Make it?

While a kind note is always recommended when declining a wedding invitation, a gift isn’t always necessary. If you’re very close with the couple, you might decide to send a gift in lieu of your presence. However, if you’ve been out of touch with the happy couple, a card is a kind gesture.

Should I Always Give a Gift?

Gifts are a way to express congratulations, but if the happy couple says explicitly no gifts, don’t bring them. You could donate to a charity in their name, or bring a thoughtful note, but bringing a gift would likely mean gifting the bride and groom something they don’t want.

I’ve Got a Year to Figure This Out, Right?

Many of us are under the impression you have up to a year after the wedding to give the newlyweds a gift, but the Emily Post Institute e says this just isn’t so. If you buy early, the registry is still full of unclaimed gifts, or you could have a chance to score items on sale if you’re paying close attention.

Are Cash Gifts Impolite?

Not in the slightest. Cash may be a perfectly acceptable wedding gift for couples that already have what they need, or are saving for something big. You can use your discretion if you think it is appropriate.

Looking to cut a check? Don’t use the new surname just yet. Banks might not cash checks unless they’re in the name of the account holder. You can avoid a potential headache for the newlyweds by addressing the check to just one of them, and include a thoughtful note.

While it’s nice to bring a card to the wedding, you might consider mailing the cash or check, or contribute directly into their Honeyfund . There’s already so much happening on the couple’s special day, you wouldn’t want your monetary gift to get lost in the shuffle.

Budgeting Smart, and Buying a Gift From the Heart

There’s a ton of etiquette around buying wedding gifts, but in many cases these outdated rules no longer apply. What matters is being around for the happy couple, and not overextending your budget. Your loved ones probably don’t want you to be in financial strain over their nuptials.

Getting your budget in line can alleviate the stress around spending. With SoFi Money® you can spend, save, and earn all in one cash management account.

Learn more about SoFi Money.


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