The age old question once you receive a wedding invitation is, “How much should I spend?” You’re not alone if you’re asking yourself this very important question. There are no rules it seems, so it’s hard to know these days if you are going to show up with a gift that looks cheap. There are some things you can consider so you will feel more comfortable with your selection.
First, remember that you are giving a wedding gift. It’s not a mandatory fee to get you into the wedding. Give what you are comfortable giving. If you are on a tight budget, chances are the couple, if they are your friends, know your situation and wouldn’t want you to stretch yourself beyond your means.
Consider how you know the couple. Are you in the intimate immediate family? Then, of course, you’d want to give your sister a more expensive gift than someone you know from yoga class. Especially if you have more than one wedding coming up within a year, you’ll want to budget so you can get each couple a nice gift.
One way that you can judge what to spend is by asking others. Are both you and your friend Carol friends of the bride’s from college? Email her and ask her how much she’s planning on spending.
If you’re still uncertain, don’t give cash. Give a gift instead so that it’s not as obvious exactly what you spent. Check the bridal registry and then shop around for the same thing elsewhere. Seasonal sales pop up where you can find the same blender for half the price. When you give it, the bride will have no idea that you paid 50% less. Outlets and other discount stores carry many name brands for less money. Shop those stores and pick up a great bargain for a fraction of the amount. Wrap it nicely and no one will ever think it’s a discount gift. Just be sure to check that all packaging is perfect and not dented or scratched.
If you want to figure a dollar amount because you want to give cash, figure on $100 per person—but that’s if you know the couple very well. The rules used to be that you should plan to cover the cost of your meal. But how are you supposed to guess what the couple paid per plate for the dinner? Don’t bother trying to figure it out. If you are the groom’s old work colleague and you’re bringing a date, $100 is more than enough to cover you both. If you are close friends with one or both of the happy partners, give $100 for yourself and $100 for your date.
Remember, these are guidelines and not hard and fast rules. What you give is largely personal. Elder relatives may have more money and may want to give more. You may be just starting out and have a new mortgage and are unable to give as much as you’d like. Don’t ever let the wedding couple gift stop you from attending a wedding you really want to go to. The bride and groom will appreciate your presence at their big day no matter what you choose to spend. (And remember, even if you decline a wedding invitation, you’re still supposed to send a gift.)