There are a whole range of emotions you might experience when receiving a wedding invitation in the mail, depending on who’s tying the knot and where. Whether it’s pure excitement and overwhelming joy, or soul-crushing dread that makes you wish you had a root canal planned for that exact date and time, after your knee-jerk reaction mellows out, it’s time to start thinking about a gift. While modern-day registries have made wedding gift giving that much easier, there’s still a lot of gray area when it comes to what you should give and how much to pay for a wedding gift. We’ve laid out how much you should spend based on your situation.
If You’re Close Friends With The Couple And Going Solo…
The overall rule of thumb when it comes to gift giving is that the closer you are to the couple, the nicer your gift should be. While you don’t need to get them the $700 Dyson vacuum from their registry, you might consider getting the nicer knife set or buying the couples massage from their honeymoon fund. There’s no direct correlation to the number of years you’ve been friends and the amount of money you should spend (which would make things a lot easier), but don’t you think your close college friend deserves more from you than a $50 gift card to Bed Bath & Beyond? If you ask me, close friends should plan to spend between $100-$150.
If You’re Bringing A Plus-One. . .
Again, it’s important to think of this in terms of your relationship with the couple. Your guest most likely doesn’t know the couple as well as you do, so you shouldn’t go in evenly on the gift. You should still plan to spend the amount you deem appropriate based on how well you know the couple, and then — this is where it gets tricky — based on your relationship with your date, see if they want to chip in. If you’ve been dating for a while, and they’ve met the couple, you might consider splurging for something nicer than you normally would get if you were going solo and have your guest chip in. For example, plan to spend $200 and then have your date contribute anywhere between $50-$75 depending on your relationship and how well they know the couple getting married. If you’re in the early stages of your relationship, you might want to cover the cost yourself. Nothing will drive away your new fling like asking them to chip in on an Air Fryer for someone they’ve never met.
If You’re In The Wedding Party. . .
There’s been a weird myth circulating around that if you’re in the wedding party, you don’t need to get the newlyweds a gift. Well, that’s about as real as any Real Housewife’s boobs. If you are in the wedding party, you still need to get the couple a gift. Yes, I know, I know, you already spent money on their shower gift, their bachelor/ette party, a groomsman suit or bridesmaid dress for the wedding, the list goes on. But that does not get you out of giving them a gift on their wedding day. And yes, it should be a nice one. Being in the wedding party does not give you permission to be stingy when it comes to a wedding gift. Plan to spend around $150 or more.
If You’re Not That Close With The Couple. . .
The only way I'm coming to your wedding is if YOU get ME a gift. You just found lifelong love, I think I deserve a blender more than you do.
— Jamie Woodham (@jwoodham) September 30, 2014
You’re a coworker or an old college friend who only made it on the list because you invited them to your wedding. If that’s the case, don’t feel like you need to go all out with a gift. The couple is supposed to provide a range of prices on their registry so you should be able to find something around $50-$75 that you feel comfortable with. If you’re not super close with the couple, it would be strange if you got them the fanciest thing on their registry. It’s okay to just get the mixing bowl or the throw blanket and call it a day.
If You’re Not Attending The Wedding. . .
If you can’t make the wedding, you still need to send a gift. RSVPing “no” doesn’t get you out of choosing something off their registry or writing a check. Even if you feel like you were only invited because the couple wanted more gifts, then unfortunately, they’re evil geniuses, so pay up. Think of it as your “I’m sorry I can’t make it” gift. For something like this you can plan to pay around $50.
If Your Parents Are Also Attending. . .
This really depends on how often your parents still allow you to mooch off of them. I, for one, have never felt more abandoned by my parents than when they told me I had to get my own gift for my cousin’s wedding. I’d always just signed the card and my parents would write the check. No stress of perusing the registry or figuring out how much money to
waste spend on the couple, but this time it had to be straight from me. I’d be lying if I said it felt good, so if your parents are still willing to put your name on the gift, for the love of God, let them and don’t question it (also can they be my parents??). If your parents are okay with you piggy-backing on their gift let them handle the politics of how much to spend, but if you’re on your own plan to spend $75-$100 on a family member.
The world of gift giving is a complicated gray area that’s hard for wedding guests to navigate. And by no means is this like, the law, but rather a guideline you can follow without feeling like you went way overboard or cheaped out on a wedding gift.