Wedding Gift Etiquette: 8 Rules to Follow As a Guest

By Julia Califano · November 28, 2023 · 3 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Wedding Gift Etiquette: 8 Rules to Follow As a Guest

Getting invited to a wedding is an honor — it means you are seen as a valued part of the couple’s life. However, it also means you’ll need to start thinking about what to give as a wedding gift and, the thorniest of wedding etiquette issues, how much you should spend. You may also wonder when to give a wedding gift (do you really have a year?) and, if you’re not going to be able to attend, if you still need to send a gift.

Navigating the intricacies of wedding gift etiquette can be tricky for everyone. But don’t stress. What follows is a modern day guide to wedding gift etiquette that will help ensure you give an appropriate wedding gift without going broke.

8 Wedding Gift Rules to Follow

What follows are eight essential wedding gift etiquette rules and customs all guests need to know.

1. Spend an Appropriate Amount

Some people think that how much to spend on a wedding gift should be based on how much is being spent on you — in other words, cover your plate. For example, if you think a reception costs a couple $150 per person, that should be your gift value. But, the truth is, how much you spend on a wedding gift should depend more on your relationship to the couple, how far you’re traveling for the wedding, and your own financial situation.

On average, guests spent $160 on a wedding gift in 2022, according to The Knot. But that may not make sense for everyone. If you’re younger or just out of college, spending $50 on a friend’s wedding might be just right. If you are very close to the couple and attending with your spouse or a date, you might give $250 or more. There is no one “right” amount to give as a wedding gift.

💡 Quick Tip: Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts do, and online banks are more likely than brick-and-mortar banks to offer you the best rates.

2. Budget for Other Expenses

When considering how much to spend on a wedding gift, you’ll also want to look at other costs related to the wedding. For example, you may be invited to other events that call for giving a gift, such as an engagement party and shower. In that case, you might allocate a certain percentage of your total gift budget for each event, such as 20% each for the engagement and shower gift and 60% on the wedding gift.

Also consider travel-related expenses and the cost of attire. If you are in the wedding party and have already maxed out your budget due to other costs, like hosting a bachelorette/bachelor party or buying a bridesmaid dress/groomsmen suit, then it is okay to simply give a small token gift for the ceremony.

Also keep in mind that if you’re invited to a destination wedding, your presence may actually be enough of a present. It’s likely that the couple will understand if you give a thoughtful handwritten note in lieu of a gift, or give them a smaller gift.

Recommended: Destination Weddings: 8 Awkward Money Questions, Answered

3. Use the Couple’s Wedding Registry

While you aren’t required to purchase a gift off the couple’s registry, doing so can make your life a lot easier. For one, the registry is a curated list of items the couple actually wants. It also typically offers gift ideas at a variety of price ranges, giving you a lot of flexibility. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about how you’ll actually get the gift to the couple (see rule # 6). You simply need to write a short note, input your credit card information, and hit “buy.” The store will do the rest. The registry is also a great resource for engagement and shower gifts.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!

4. Consider Chipping in on a Group Giftsticking to your budget. Just be sure that everyone who contributes to the gift signs the wedding card.

A group gift can be especially helpful for members of the wedding party, who may have already bought multiple shower and engagement gifts and paid for wedding attire and bachelorette/bachelor parties.

Recommended: Why Saving Money Is Important

5. Cash is Completely Acceptable

When it comes to wedding gift etiquette, it’s perfectly acceptable to give money as a wedding gift. In fact, many couples prefer cash gifts, and will even register for cash funds to help pay for their honeymoon or a down payment on a home. If giving cash through the registry isn’t an option or not your preference, you can also give cash by writing a check and inserting in an envelope with a thoughtful note.

If you do go the check route, it’s a good idea to write only one of their names on the check (to avoid potential confusion at the bank) and include both names on the memo line, and in your note, so it’s clear this is a gift for both of them. You can either mail your check in advance or bring it to the wedding (the one time you can break rule #6).

💡 Quick Tip: If your checking account doesn’t offer decent rates, why not apply for an online checking account with SoFi to earn 0.50% APY. That’s 7x the national checking account average.

6. Don’t Bring the Gift to The Wedding

In some communities and cultures, it’s customary to bring your gift to the wedding and there will be a table at the reception where you can leave it. Generally speaking, however, it’s not considered proper wedding gift etiquette to bring a gift to a wedding (the exception being a card with a check). While you should bring a shower gift to the actual shower, it’s easier for the couple if you send a wedding gift to their home.

7. Send a Gift Before (or Soon After) the Wedding

The old rule that you have up to a year to send a gift is no longer considered proper wedding gift etiquette. Thanks to digital registries, online shopping, and two-day free shipping, it’s generally expected that guests will send a gift before the wedding or within three months of the couple getting married. This is respectful, and also avoids the awkwardness of running into the couple six months after the reception knowing that you still haven’t given them a gift to acknowledge their wedding.

8. Send Something Even if You Don’t Go

A wedding invitation is a thoughtful gesture that tells you that the couple appreciates your friendship and wants to include you in their celebration. If you are close friends or family to the bride or groom, you generally want to recognize that honor with a thoughtful note and gift, even if you are not able to attend the wedding. It doesn’t have to be a large gift. You might choose an item of nominal value from their registry or for their new home.

There is an exception to this etiquette rule, however. if you are not particularly close to the couple, you can likely get away with simply dropping a thoughtful note in the mail — and skipping the gift.

Recommended: Understanding Discretionary Expenses

The Takeaway

Just like weddings themselves, wedding gift etiquette has evolved over time, which can make purchasing a wedding gift all the more confusing. To avoid running afoul of any etiquette rules, you generally want to pick out a gift from the registry or give a cash gift (either through registry or via check). As for how much to spend on a gift, consider your relationship to the couple, what you can feasibly afford, and other costs involved (such as traveling to attend the wedding).

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


What is proper wedding gift etiquette?

Proper wedding gift etiquette involves several considerations. First, you’ll want to consult the couple’s gift registry to find out what they would like to receive. Giving a cash gift is also perfectly acceptable, and often preferred by couples. You might also consider going in on a group gift.

Ideally, you’ll want to send a physical gift before the wedding or within three months of the event. It’s fine to bring a card with a check to the celebration.

As for how much to spend, you’ll want to consider your budget, relationship to the couple, and how far you’re traveling for the wedding.

What should you avoid giving as a wedding gift?

According to proper wedding gift etiquette, you’ll want to avoid giving overly personal items (since everyone’s preferences are different) and anything that could potentially offend or cause discomfort to the couple. Also consider avoiding gifts that are overly extravagant or impractical, especially if they might burden the couple with maintenance or storage issues.

Is it rude to attend a wedding and not give a gift?

It’s customary to give a gift if you are attending a wedding. How much you spend, however, is flexible. If you have significant budget constraints, it’s perfectly okay to give a modest gift, along with a thoughtful note wishing the couple well.

Is it ever okay to not give a wedding gift?

If you are attending the wedding, it’s customary to give a gift to commemorate the couple’s special day. Even if you’re not attending the wedding, you generally still want to send a note and a gift. However, if you’re not attending the wedding and don’t know the couple well, it’s acceptable to send a thoughtful note without a gift.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender