How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

by | Oct 1, 2019

How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?


Buying wedding gifts can be stressful. You want to get something special for the couple, but you also don’t want to blow your budget. If you’ll be attending a wedding in the near future, here are some factors to keep in mind so you know how much to spend on a wedding gift – whether it’s a low-key, affordable wedding or a large, lavish affair.

It can sometimes feel like a blessing and a curse when you receive an invite to a wedding. On one hand, it’s always nice to know someone wants you to be a part of their special day. On the other, figuring out what gift to buy the newlywed couple, and how much to spend, can make even the best gift-giver pretty stressed. 

 It doesn’t take much to figure out why. A 2018 Nerdwallet survey found that the average American spends about $128 on a wedding gift. If you attend more than a few weddings in one year, those numbers start to add up quickly. No wonder 33% of folks from the same survey say they’ve skipped – or thought about skipping – a wedding because they can’t afford it. 

 You don’t have to decline that wedding invite though, and you also don’t have to drain your bank account to buy a gift. Here are a few things to take into consideration and help you figure out how much to spend on a wedding gift.



Your Personal Financial Situation

You should always put your financial wellbeing first when it comes to gift-giving. The last thing you want to do is overextend yourself and spend way more than you can afford to. While the couple will probably be happy with your gift, only you will be the one who has to pay back a credit card or deal with an overdrawn bank account. 

If you get a wedding invite far enough in advance, it’s best to start planning how much you can afford early on. Figure out how much you can comfortably spend on a gift and set some money aside until you have what you need. 

If you didn’t get enough notice or forgot to buy a gift until the last minute, don’t worry. It’s okay to purchase a small gift or a thoughtful card wishing the couple well. You might even want to get creative and make a handmade gift. You might have to spend a little cash on supplies, but it will probably be way less expensive than buying a gift, and you have the added bonus of giving something that holds sentimental value for the couple.


How Well You Know the Couple 

When you’re deciding how much to spend on a wedding gift, another thing to consider is how close you are with the soon-to-be newlyweds. You’ll probably want to spend more cash if it’s a close friend who’s getting married, versus a co-worker or distant cousin.

While you still don’t want to accumulate debt for a wedding gift, it makes sense to increase your budget for loved ones. If you’re not super close with the couple, you’ll probably be okay with buying a gift on the lower end of your budget.



The Location of the Wedding

 It might be tricky to decide how much to spend on a wedding gift if you’ll be attending a destination wedding. Depending on how far you have to travel, some couples might not expect lavish gifts if you spent a lot on travel arrangements. 

 To be on the safe side though, you should probably plan to buy a small gift even for a destination wedding. As I mentioned, some couples won’t mind if you don’t buy a gift, but there’s always that Bride-zilla (or Groom-zilla) who will be looking for one no matter what. The last thing you want to do is get on their bad side, so save everyone the trouble and make the gesture.



If You Can’t Make It

You might have a prior engagement that takes place on the same day as the wedding, or maybe you can’t get out of work. Whatever the case, if you’re not able to be there for the big day, it’s a nice gesture to send a gift to the couple to make up for your absence.

Since you won’t be physically taking up space at the wedding or eating any of the catered food, this is another instance when you can aim to spend on the lower side for a gift. And if you’re totally strapped for cash, a thoughtful card works too. Aim for something that will put a smile on their face after the fact – whether they’re staying home or taking a luxurious, affordable honeymoon.



It’s the Thought that Counts

As cheesy as it sounds, the thought and effort you put into a gift is way more important than the amount of money you spend on it. And let’s face it, most of the time in these situations, it’s our own insecurities that make us think we need to spend more, rather than the real-life expectations of others. 

The fact that you got an invite shows the couple values your presence, and it probably means more to them just to have your support. Be sure to keep that in mind the next time you get a wedding invite. 

Planning your own wedding? Here’s how much to spend on an engagement ring.

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