How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

illustration of how much to spend on a wedding gift

Illustration: Ashley Nicole DeLeon. © The Spruce, 2019

It's something every guest wants to know but is afraid to ask. How much should you spend on a wedding gift? The old rule suggests estimating how much the couple is spending on your meal at the wedding reception. But the new rules suggest spending whatever you think is appropriate depending on your relationship with the couple. There are some exceptions. Confused? Read on.

Why the Price-Per-Plate Rule Doesn't Work

Your wedding gift is not a ticket for admission and it's not a financial exchange. Your wedding gift is a token of your affection for the couple. It's also a celebration of their new life together. It's also tough to figure out how much your plate costs. That casual backyard wedding may be more expensive than you think or the extravagant wedding may be less pricey than it appears. The cost of the wedding wasn't your decision and shouldn't affect what you spend on a gift.

So, Really, How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Though it depends on your financial comfort level, you can also use these relationship guidelines to figure out the appropriate amount for a wedding gift.

  • For your coworker or boss: The best range is between $75 and $100 for someone you hope to continue a long working relationship.
  • For a neighbor or casual acquaintance: Consider a gift in the range of $50 to $75.
  • For a friend or relative: A gift costing between $100 to $125 is appropriate to give someone you love.
  • For a close friend or close relative: If you're celebrating the union of a dear friend or relative, a gift in the range of $100 to $175 is a thoughtful gesture.

Exceptions to the Rules

Sometimes, you're invited to a wedding surrounded by a set of circumstances. Here's how to graciously handle five common gifting situations while still celebrating the nuptials.

  • You're broke: Regardless of your relationship with the couple, $50 is a good place to start. Give the couple something meaningful, even if they're just an acquaintance. There are plenty of creative and inexpensive ideas for wedding gifts.
  • You're bringing a guest: If you're bringing a date, add a little more to your gift to acknowledge the couple's hospitality.
  • You're attending a destination wedding: When a couple asks you to spend money on airfare and hotel for a destination wedding, they understand that you can't spend as much on their gift. Even if you're close to the couple, it's appropriate to spend $50 to $100 on their gift.
  • You're in the wedding party: From spending money on wedding attire to throwing showers and parties, your budget may be tapped. Your gift can be sentimental rather than pricey. Opt for a personal gift for the couple's home, such as a handmade quilt or artwork you've created. Band together with the rest of the bridal party for one large gift the couple has requested on their registry.
  • The couple requests money: Years ago it was frowned upon to ask guests for money as a wedding gift. Today, it's fully acceptable for a couple to request money on their registry site in addition to household gifts. Many couples use monetary gifts to pay for a honeymoon or other large purchases. The best tip is to give only what you can afford based on the relationship you have with the couple.

Can't Attend the Wedding?

Even if you can't attend a wedding, it's always proper etiquette to send a small gift rather than no gift. A token gift is still an appropriate way to celebrate the couple's union without your presence.