It can be surprisingly difficult to figure out
how much to spend on a wedding gift. There are a lot of factors to consider, including things like your own budget and how close you are to the couple. And, of course, there's the whole issue of sticking with tradition, so you don't accidentally send the wrong message.
There are, after all, many a
wedding rule to consider when attending as a guest, and even more if you're attending as part of the bridal party. But the good news is, "we live in a time where traditions are changing rapidly and many formalities are getting dropped," Whitney Cox, a wedding coordinator from Vegas Weddings, tells Bustle. And that can, in many ways, give you more room to decide what feels right for you.
That said, "wedding gifts are still expected as an acknowledgment to the couple for inviting you to their special day," Cox says. "It's no secret that most couples are
spending a lot of money [...] and as a guest, it's considerate to spend some money on the couple, too — although it's perfectly fine to choose a gift within your means."
Here are a few more things to keep in mind when figuring out
how much to spend on a gift, according to experts, including whether or not you need to give a gift at all. 1 If You'll Actually Be Attending
"The first thing to look at is if you are actually attending the wedding or not," Sarah Carroll, wedding planner and owner of
Small Shindigs in San Francisco, tells Bustle. It's tradition to give a gift that, at the very least, covers the cost of your meal. So if you're going to a formal event, eating dinner, and snagging some cake, that can give you a better idea of how much to spend.
If you can't go, though, and simply want to send a gift through the mail, it's OK to spend less. As Carroll says, "If you aren't [going] and are not very close with the couple, you can decrease the amount you'd spend as they are not paying for you to be there," and simply send along a small gift to wish them well.
2 How Close You Are To The Couple
The amount you spend can also change depending on how close you are to the couple. If this is your best friend, you may want to go ahead and treat them to something amazing, like that pricey gift they added to their registry.
But in this instance it may also be OK to go the less expensive route, especially if you make the gift extra personal. It'll be up to you to think about your friend, and what they may or may not want, and go from there.
After all, "depending on the couple, a sentimental gift can mean a lot more than an expensive one," Jocelyn Voo, wedding photographer and owner of
Everly Studios, tells Bustle. 3 How Far You've Traveled
"As a guest, it's appropriate to consider the distance and expense of your travels when picking your gift," Cox says. If, for example, it's
a destination wedding that includes a pricey plane ticket and hotel, you may want to spend less on a gift, so you don't go over budget.
Instead, "include a heartfelt card with your well-wishes, and the wedding couple will appreciate the gesture," Cox says. "In the eyes of the couple, making the effort to attend the wedding should be more important than the gift you give."
4 What The Couple Prefers
Many times, a couple will include information on their invitation regarding gifts and their preferences. So give it a once over before buying anything new.
"Check your wedding invitation and the couple's wedding website to see what they're asking of their guests," Cox says. Do they want friends to hold off on giving gifts? Or are they asking for donations instead?
You can still give them a gift if you'd like — perhaps after the wedding is over, the next time you see them — to show your love. But many couples don't really want or need anything, and thus it won't be necessary to spend a lot on a gift.
5 How Much You've Spent On Parties
If you've spent the last six months
attending bachelorette parties and bridal showers, you may be able to get away with spending a little less on a wedding gift, especially if you already given gifts at these events.
As Voo says, "If you've already invested a lot of money into celebrating the couple, this could earn you a pass on a cheaper or non-monetary gift — especially if you're currently cash-strapped." Your friend or family member should understand, and be willing to look past a price tag.
6 Their Wedding Registry
If you're still unsure how much to spend, take a peek at the couple's wedding registry to get a better idea about prices, as well as
what they're asking for, Janessa White, co-founder of Simply Eloped, a website that plans elopements and simple weddings, tells Bustle.
If all the gifts are in the one hundred dollar range, then you may want to plan on spending around the same amount. But if the prices vary, feel free to choose whatever you want, as long as it feels meaningful to you.
You may also want to pause before buying a gift that
isn't on their registry, White says, since many couples today are trying to avoid receiving too much "stuff." Choosing something that's on the list, though, is pretty much alway a safe bet. 7 Traditional Gift Prices
When in doubt, you can always stick to the general guidelines of wedding gift giving, and spend about fifty to one hundred dollars,
Kylie Carlson, with the International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning, tells Bustle, as is this is traditionally how much guests spend.
Again, "this can vary considerably depending on one's relationship with the couple as well as their overall budget," she says. But if you're looking to give a gift and want to ruffle any feathers, this is a good price range to aim for.
8 Your Own Budget
"By no means should you be putting yourself in debt to purchase a gift," Carlson says. So if you can't afford anything on the wedding registry, or have already maxed out after buying a plane ticket, don't fret.
"Most couples understand that making time to celebrate this milestone is more than enough, so don’t feel obligated to go overboard," Carlson says. "Material items aren’t nearly as important as sentimental gestures and gifts, and they’ll remember that longer than the pricey home item you bought from their registry."
9 What You'd Like To Receive
"If you’re struggling to figure out how much you should spend, think about what
you would want your friends and family to spend for your wedding," Carlson says. This can give you a better idea of what's appropriate, and what feels right.
And remember, "it's absolutely OK to stick to the parameters of what they’re asking for," Carlson says, "whether that’s a small donation to their honeymoon fund, a set registry, or even a donation in their name to the charity of their choice."
By keeping all these factors in mind, you should be able to land on the ideal gift, stick to tradition, and also
help the couple feel loved and supported on their big day.