"How much should I spend?"
"How much are you spending?"
"How much money should I give?"
With wedding season upon us, you're very likely asking these questions. After all, "How much should I spend on a wedding gift?" seems to be the most often asked gift-giving question. Here's a recent email from an "AskCheryl" reader on this subject.
I was recently having a discussion with a friend about what the average or acceptable amount would be for a monetary wedding gift. She hasn't been to a wedding in a while and wants to be sure she is giving a reasonable gift. What do you think the gift amount should be?
Thanks, Mary Ann
Mary Ann's friend is like many of us. We just don't know how much we are expected to spend on a wedding gift. Unfortunately, there's no simple answer and no set amount you "should" spend (or amount you should give if gifting cash). The amount you spend is dependent upon your budget and relationship with the wedding couple (or their parents). While it's common practice to spend more for a close relative or if you are very close to the couple, again, it's dependent upon your budget. No one should "break the bank" and spend more than they can afford. Additionally, the amount considered "acceptable" varies by culture and region of the country.
Interestingly, there's a myth that continues to circulate among some guests. They're under the impression that they should base the cost of the gift on how much they think the couple is spending on food and entertainment. This modern myth is simply not true. Again, the amount you spend is strictly a matter of your budget, how close you are to the bride and groom, and what you think is an appropriate gift.
"It's a bad idea to use the price-per-plate as a measure for how much you should spend on the wedding gift," says Jessica Silvester, a deputy editor and wedding expert with New York magazine. "You wouldn't give your best friend a less expensive gift just because she was having a more casual affair."
To help you, I've put together some averages and guidelines for wedding gifts and bridal shower gifts.
What guests spend can also vary significantly by location or region. You can use the above as a guideline, but customs in your family or area may be higher or lower. I can share that the average amount spent on a wedding gift in 2014 through RegistryFinder.com was $120.
If you choose to buy from the couple's wedding registry, we recommend purchasing early, so you have the best selection of gifts and price ranges. RegistryFinder.com makes it easy to find all of the couple's registries in one convenient location just by entering the name of the bride or groom.
Tell us what you think! Please comment below and let us know how much you normally spend on a wedding gift, or what you feel is appropriate.
If you have questions or comments about gift giving or wedding etiquette, email me at AskCheryl@RegistryFinder.com.
Emails in this column are received from actual blog readers. Emails may be edited for spelling and grammar, or to remove sensitive information, however, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.
Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations and more.