How much should I spend on a wedding gift?

What once were events usually entirely paid for by the bride’s family, have morphed into all sorts of celebrations. From exotic destination weddings to simple barefoot nuptials by the sea, today’s weddings are driven by the bride and groom’s lifestyle choices and passions they share – and budget. In addition, where it used to be the minority of guests traveled from afar, today it seems the majority of guests are traveling. The nuances may have changed, but thoughtful gift giving has not.

What Should I Give at a Bridal Shower?

Look at the invitation. If there is a bridal registry, don’t overthink it. Choose something from the registry within your financial means. These registries offer gift wrapping, shipping and remove your item so it is not duplicated. You can even purchase a gift certificate to one of the registries.

If there is no registry listed, try and contact a member of the bridal party for ideas. It’s ok to consider your travel expense, or ongoing expense if you are part of the bridal party, in the gift giving process. Showers are more of a time to get together, your presence is the most appreciated. If you feel your gift is too small, add something personal, like a photo in a frame. One young college student gift wrapped a box and put all the little tokens of their friendship together over the years – ticket stubs and the like – it was a huge hit.

In recent publications by ValuePenguin, The Knot and Wedding Wire, the average cost of a wedding has jumped from $15,200 in 1990 to over $28,000 (based on an average of 140 guests), with the state of Connecticut averaging a whopping $43,942!

How Much Should I Give for a Wedding Gift?

First, a Couple of Invitation Rules
Respond to the invitation as soon as possible and clearly note the number of guests attending. Remember, most venues request payment prior to the wedding based on the total number of guests. So, if you RSVP ‘yes’, you have to go. Also, don’t assume your invitation is plus one or plus kids. Exactly who is invited should be clearly indicated on the invitation address – Miss Cheryl Redding and Guest.

When There is a Gift Registry
Although it is much less common now, sometimes the bride and groom have a gift registry. Choose an item that you are financially comfortable with. Sometimes guests look through the bridal registry for ideas, and then go to a trusted boutique for expert help to find something more personal that fits within the registry items.

How Much Money Should I Give at a Wedding?
There are no absolute rules, but the gracious rule of thumb is that your gift should at least equal the cost of your presence at the wedding. The cost per plate varies greatly between venues and wedding style – we’ve seen everything from $30 to $300. Assuming the cost per plate is $100, and you and one guest are attending, your gift would be $200. Adding a personal touch with your money card is also a wonderful idea – such as a pretty statement tray Live. Laugh. Love.

All of this said, don’t break your bank! Give what you can comfortably afford.

Do I Need to Bring a Gift if I’m in the Wedding Party?

Yes. We know between showers, dresses and dinners, it is expensive to be part of a wedding! And, you’re probably traveling and taking time off as well. Still, as a very special person who the bride and groom chose to be a part of their day, you need to acknowledge that. What, or how much you give is totally up to you. Try to think out of the box, keep it sentimental and within your means. The couple’s first Christmas ornament, a set of beach towels for the honeymoon … you get the idea.

Another idea is for the wedding party to get together and give one gift. Sharing the responsibility will help ease the financial burden, and may even be enough to get something really sharp, like a large monogrammed ice bucket.

Should I Send a Wedding Gift If I’m Not Attending?

Yes. After all, the couple did invite you to be a part of their special day. Here again, do what is comfortable for you. It just needs to be an acknowledgement of their wedding.

Do I Have a Year to Give a Wedding Gift?

Believe it or not, yes, the old rule still applies. But, do that as soon as you can. The longer you wait the more likely you will be to forget!

Ask an Expert

Boutiques, like Maggie’s of Madison, that specialize in gracious living and gift giving are great resources! Whether you are the guest, a hostess or a bride, you can seek an expert for help and end up with the perfect item for any occasion.

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