Deciding How Much To Spend On A Wedding Gift

Have you just accepted a wedding invitation, and started panicking about how much you’re going to have to spend on a gift? Don’t worry, we’ve got all the wedding gift etiquette you need, right here.

If your first thought when you pick up that fresh wedding invitation from the mailbox is, ‘how much is this all going to cost me?’, we don’t blame you. Weddings are costly affairs for all involved, and for some, not knowing how much to spend on a wedding gift causes major anxiety.

With no set gift etiquette in place, deciding what to buy is difficult. Spend too much, and you look like a show-off, but don’t spend enough, and you’ll look like a cheapskate…

I mean, Ariana Grande would certainly expect more than a gift card from Target on her big day, wouldn’t she? But Ted and Linda from number 29 might consider that the perfect gift!

So, what is the rule of thumb? And how are you supposed to balance the gift budget and the cost of travel and accommodation? Can you buy gifts outside the registry list? Is giving cash a bit, rude? 

Well, consider us your etiquette expert, and let us help you figure out how much you should spend on a wedding gift below. 

How Much To Spend On Wedding Gift

Is It Ok to Gift a Group/Family Wedding Present?

If you have eyes on a big-ticket item for the happy couple, but your tight budget doesn’t quite stretch to it, a group wedding gift is more than acceptable, for many reasons…

Firstly, nobody wants anyone to enter into financial uncertainty because of an engagement gift or wedding present. So, if you can minimize the possibility of money problems by pooling your resources with other wedding attendees, that’s sensible.

Plus, by reaching out to a fellow guest with this suggestion, you may also be helping someone else who may be embarrassed, or worried about their own finances. 

Also, consider that your efforts to save money may actually make a much more appreciated and larger gift possible! By choosing a wedding gift from the registry as a group, you may be buying the couple something they might not be able to afford, and that without group spending, may go un-bought.

Is it OK to Give Money as a Gift?

Offering a cash gift at a wedding is a perfectly acceptable present, and will be highly appreciated. In fact, it’s very common.

Think about it, the traditional wedding registry was supposed to provide the couple with everything they needed to start their new life together. But nowadays, most modern couples have already been living together for 5+ years, and they don’t need another toaster. Cash, on the other hand, is always useful! 

If you are planning on giving a cash wedding gift, try to make it a bit more personal, or pretty, than simply popping a 50 in a white envelope.

Shop around for some nice ‘card with money’ options, and/or include a note that shares your love for the couple, and your wishes for their future together.

On the other hand, if you’re concerned your hard-earned cash may go missing on the big day, find out if there is a cash registry site.

Websites like for example, offer a safe, and secure cash fund destination for wedding guests to send monetary gifts. A great idea for all concerned; if a little less personal. 

If You Can’t Attend the Big Day, Should You Still Buy a Gift?

If you’ve declined a wedding invitation for whatever reason, you are under no obligation to buy a present of any kind.

If you can’t attend because of your financial position then simply send your regards in the form of a note, a handwritten card preferably. 

When it’s a wedding of a close friend or family member that you can’t attend, and you do have the means to do so — it’s nice to choose something from the wedding registry or buy a thoughtful gift.

On the other hand, if your inability to attend will probably go largely unnoticed (you’re just one of 50 or cousins, for example), then feel free to scroll down to the budget range of wedding gifts on the registry.  

Can You Buy Gifts Outside the Registry List?

If you’re worried about buying a gift that isn’t on the registry, don’t. While it may not be traditional etiquette, it’s certainly not against the rules.

What you do need to be sure of, is that they’ll actually like it. Like, really sure! If there is just a flicker of doubt in your mind, go for the safe option.

You can always test the waters post-wedding, and treat them to your unique gift idea as a surprise, or for their anniversary.

How Much Should I Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Now the big question, and one that you’ve all been waiting for, how much should you spend on a wedding gift?

This year (2021), the average wedding present cost was around $100, with couples expected to spend double the amount a single person would. 

This is by no means a rule, but simply a good rule of thumb, as your partner, or plus one, is an extra person that needs to be fed and watered.

Every guest added to the list adds an extra $60-70 to the wedding budget!  So if you’re attending as a couple, then it’s nice to show some appreciation by choosing one of the higher-priced registry items, using your combined wedding gift budget. 

However, don’t forget to factor in your personal budget! 

For example, if the couple plans to have a destination wedding, you’ve now got to pay for flights, accommodation, and time off work. You should consider your very presence as a present and adjust your gift accordingly. 

In the case of a non-destination event, or when a large amount of travel is not necessary, you then need to consider your relationship with the couple.

If you’re a co-worker, casual acquaintance, or a part of their distant family, maybe look around the $50 — $75 price range. But never under $50, even if you aren’t close to the couple. If you can’t find anything on the registry around that price, then opt for a gift card from one of the stores they’ve listed. 

If you’re attending the wedding of someone really close, family or friend, then it’s normal to up your spending above the average — as long as you can afford it. 

Whatever you decide, keep in mind that although everyone’s expectations are different, you should never over-spend just because you feel you have to! Whether the bride is a judge on The Voice or not! 

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