Wedding gift: how much (money) to give as a wedding gift?

How much should I spend on a wedding gift? A fair question – when wedding invitations pile up, it can quickly put pressure on your wallet. The idea of spending money on travel, accommodation, dresses and – on top of that – wedding presents several times a year can become a serious stress factor for wedding guests. This is further complicated by the apparent lack of a concrete wedding gift etiquette. You begin to ask yourself questions like: How much should I spend on a wedding gift? When should I buy the gift? Can I buy gifts that are not on the wish list (if there is one)?? Is the gift of money tactless?

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Here are answers to these questions and more, with expert insights from Kylie Carlson, CEO of the International Academy of Wedding& Event Planning.

1. How much money should I spend on a wedding gift?

According to a recent study by the "American Express Spending and Saving Tracker" the average amount a guest is likely to spend on a wedding gift is $99 (about 91 euros) – but only if they are also friends with the couple. Family members are expected to spend at least $127 (about 117 euros).

But even if you are not close to the couple, you should not spend less than 45 euros on a gift. If you are a colleague or distant friend, the minimum amount for a wedding gift should be 45 to 70 euros. If everything left on the wish list exceeds your budget of 45 to 70 euros, it is a good idea to get the couple a gift card for one of the stores where you can get products or services from the wish list.

2. Are group gifts OK?

If the only items left on your potential wish list far exceed your budget, or if you want to get the couple something bigger that you know they’ll love, team up with a group of friends. For bridesmaids and maids of honor who have already spent a lot of money on the bridesmaid’s dress, the bachelor party or the Bridal Shower, this is a particularly wise way of giving a gift – the couple receives a thoughtful gift from the wedding party on a grand scale, and each person usually has a little less individual expenses.

3. Should my wedding gift match the price per head?

"The formality of the wedding influences a number of elements, including the time of day and the dress, but the cost of the gift does not depend on it. What you give to the couple should depend solely on your relationship with the happy couple, as well as your own means. No guest should feel like they have to go overboard with the gift because they are expected to wear evening wear", says Carlson.

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Similarly, just because your best friend is having a 10-person wedding in his/her own backyard doesn’t mean you should get him/her an inexpensive gift. If you are attending several of the couple’s events at once, you can follow the 60-20-20 rule: 20 percent of your total budget for an engagement party gift, 20 percent for the bachelor/bachelorette party, and 60 percent for the actual wedding gift.

4. Is it OK to give money as a gift?

There is nothing wrong with giving money as a gift. According to the American Express survey mentioned above, one third of respondents prefer to give money as a wedding gift. Since most Millennials are getting married later in life and already have a well-appointed home, they prefer money to save over wish list gifts.

Money (or checks) should be sent before the day of the wedding rather than brought with you – things can get lost quickly in the chaos of the day. Some couples even sign up with certain services to receive money directly into their bank account. One example is the website Tendr, which allows guests to give virtual gifts of money, along with text that you can write in person and put on a digital card.

5. Do I need to buy a wedding gift for a Destination Wedding?

"While there are no mandatory rules, many agree that their presence at the wedding may well be their gift. You can’t forget that your guests have probably taken vacation time and arranged childcare, so they’ve already invested quite a bit. That being said, it’s absolutely fine if a guest decides to give you a gift in addition to being present", Carlson says.

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