Since I’m at the age when everyone is getting married and I’m attending multiple weddings per year, I really had to create a new budget line for wedding gifts. Wedding gifts can be pricey and add up over time.
Most people spend just over $100 on wedding gifts, according to a recent American Express survey. If you attend multiple weddings a year like I do, that adds up rapidly.
Every time I have to buy a gift I have to go through the process of deciding how to much to spend on the wedding gift. I don’t want to look cheap but I also don’t want to blow my budget. As a generous gift giver, I have to keep both my internal spender and saver in check!
Tips For Buying Wedding Gifts
After reading about wedding gift spending etiquette and created my own rules for buying wedding gifts.
1. You have to buy a wedding gift.
I’m unemployed currently and scared about not making my bills, but I’m still buying a wedding gift. It really doesn’t matter how low you are on cash, there isn’t a good excuse for not buying a wedding gift for the bride and groom. If you are struggling with money, you can buy something less expensive from the registry or go in on a bigger gift with a group. Some experts also recommend you can wait until after the honeymoon or sometime within the first year to give a gift. It’s ok to spend a little less on the gift but you still need to get one.
2. Family spends more on wedding gifts.
Your relationship to the bride and groom determines how much you spend. Family always spends more and gets the couple nicer gifts. I have a huge family so this tends to be why my budget for wedding gifts is bigger than I’d like. However, I’m fine with spending more for awesome gifts to my family members rather than friends.
According to The Knot, the majority of wedding guests who are friends of the bride and groom spent less than $100 for a gift but relatives shelled out an average of $146 on wedding gifts and were twice as likely to spend more than $100 compared with friends of the couple.
They give a guideline for spending that you can follow:
- Coworker and/or a distant family friend or relative: $50-$75
- Relative or friend: $75-$100
- Close relative or close friend: $100-$150
- Urbanite: $150-200+
3. Don’t make your own.
I’m crafty and tend to DIY a lot of things… except wedding presents. Most couples take the time to create a registry and add to it so I try to purchase something from the registry. If I’m feeling creative I’ll make a card or note to go with the item that they wanted. Unless you are an amazing artisan and they have asked for a piece from you it is best to stick with the registry so they couple will get something they actually want.
4. If they want cash, give cash.
Some people think cash wedding presents are tacky, but I’ve had many friends get married who really just wanted cash. So I gave them cash!
It helps toward paying for the honeymoon, a downpayment for a house, or other bigger items. I never go to cash as my first gift giving option, but if it is known that the couple prefers cash and checks, you can honor their request.
Throw in a nice card with a heartfelt message to make it seem less transactional and more like an actual gift.
5. Give a gift even if you can’t make it.
Sometimes I can’t justify the full cost to attend a wedding, especially if it’s far away. However, I still send a gift. Even if it is something small I like to send a congrats and a thank you for including me in the invite list.
It’s sweet to send a note and a smaller gift even if you can’t make it to the wedding. This lets the couple know you care and are wishing their union the best despite your inability to attend the wedding.
6. If you attend pre wedding events, split the gift costs.
For most weddings I attend, I also attend a pre wedding party or two. There are engagement parties and bridal showers and other events that also require buying a gift. If you have to attend multiple events like this, it’s best to spend less on the first presents so you can buy a larger wedding present.
The Knot recommends using a 60-20-20 split if you’re trying to budget for several events for one couple.
- Spend 20% of your budget on the engagement party gift
- Spend 20% on a gift for a bridal shower or other pre-wedding occasion
- Reserve 60% for the wedding gift itself.
Make sure you know all the events you will have to attend up front so you can budget for these expenses.
7. Do what feels right when giving a gift.
There are rules and etiquette about wedding gift spending but I’ve always found that it’s best to do what feels right.
Ultimately you know the couple getting married better than anyone writing a blog post or book about wedding etiquette. You know what they would be happy with and how much you are comfortable spending.
As long as you have the right intentions, the specifics aren’t as important.
With these wedding gift etiquette tips sorted out, it’s a lot easier to pick a gift from the couple’s Amazon wedding registry or decided to give gift cards or cash!