Most adults know how much to spend on birthday gifts or Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts. We have a feel for what is appropriate for baby gifts. But when it comes to wedding gifts, how much to spend may not be so easy to determine. We don’t want to spend so little that we look cheap, but we don’t want to spend more than we can afford just to compete with other guests.
With wedding gifts, how much to spend seems to be a question of etiquette. Few of us feel totally comfortable with the rules of etiquette. In other areas of life, society has moved away from such rules. Etiquette books no longer have a place on our bookshelves.
Happily, etiquette books, or at least those who read them, have a place on the Internet. By researching those sites, you can get a better idea of how much to spend on wedding gifts. You will want to remember these points.
1. Negative: Do NOT try to spend according to what your meal will cost. It is a common myth that etiquette’s “rule of thumb” is to estimate how much your meal might cost and spend that much on a gift. The current (2007) price range for a meal is thought to be between $65 and $150 per person. If two of you will be attending together, you would double that amount. This is NOT true according to etiquette. Furthermore, a recent survey shows that only 10 percent of brides agree with that idea. If followed, it would mean that a couple choosing a casual affair would receive less expensive gifts simply because the reception was casual.
2. Positive: Emily Post says there is no rule. You should let your affection for the bride and groom guide you, but you should stay within your budget, and be financially responsible when you buy a wedding gift. The giving of wedding gifts is not a competition. Your gift should reflect who you are and your relationship to the bride and groom. If you cannot afford to give as much as you would like, remember that the gift can be given within the first year after the wedding. Sooner is better, of course. But with that much time, you may be able to save enough to purchase the wedding gift you would truly like to give.
U.S. National Average
In the U.S., the national averages spent on wedding gifts fall into 3 categories. Each category is determined by the relationship of the guests to the bridal couple.
1. If buying for a co-worker or a distant family member, guests tend to spend $50-$75 each on a wedding gift.
2. Those attending the wedding of a relative or friend are likely to spend $75-$100 each on a wedding gift.
3. When a close relative or close friend gets married, the wedding gift will probably cost $100-$150 or more per each guest.
This may not be appropriate in your town or city. It is good to check with peers and learn what wedding gifts customarily cost where you live.
With wedding gifts, how much to spend really is a personal decision. Guests may give whatever wedding gifts they choose. You should never be guided by how much you think the bride’s family will spend on the meal. You should not be guided by what others might give.
Shop for a wedding gift according to what you think the bride and groom will like, not according to the price tag. If they have registered at a local store, check the registry. If you see an item you want to buy and can afford, don’t be turned away because it is the least expensive item on the registry.
Send Wedding Gifts and End the Competition
Etiquette says wedding gifts are to be sent to the bride’s home. They are not to be delivered in person, either to the home or to the wedding location. If wedding gifts are delivered to the wedding location, the bride and groom should wait and open them at home in private.
Finally, whether a wedding gift costs $5 or $5,000, a well-mannered bride and groom will accept it graciously and appreciate the thoughtfulness.