When it’s OK to spend just $20 on a wedding gift
Weddings are super expensive — for the guests.
One in five people has declined an invitation to a wedding because they couldn’t afford to go, according to data from Bankrate. And no wonder: Wedding guests tend to spend a ton on everything from the travel to the gifts. Indeed, members of the wedding party spend an average of $728 on the wedding and associated pre-parties; those who are close friends or family members spend $628; and more distant friends and family members drop $372, according to data released Wednesday by Bankrate.
One of the biggest costs? The gift. Wedding guests tend to spend about $50 to $100 per gift, experts say, but spending varies significantly, depending on a number of factors.
“A minimum amount to budget [for a gift] would be $20 for a co-worker, $50 for a friend and $100 or more if family.”
Pamela Eyring, etiquette expert
How well you know the bride and groom? In general, the closer the relationship, the more you should spend. “The old rules say to estimate how much the couple spent on hosting you, i.e. the price of your plate, but the new rules say to spend whatever you think is appropriate depending on your relationship with the couple,” says Constance Hoffman, the owner of etiquette and professional skills firm Social and Business Graces. Here’s how much people in a 2017 Bankrate survey spent, based on their relationships with the couple.
|Close family, friend||Acquaintance, colleague, distant family|
|Less than $50||18%||31%|
|$50 – $99||33%||37%|
|$100 to $149||21%||15%|
|$150 – $199||9%||7%|
|$200 – $299||9%||3%|
|$300 or more||8%||3%|
Age and where you live. Younger people tend to give less expensive gifts, possibly because they are earning less money. Indeed, the Bankrate survey showed that those in the 18-37 year-old age group spend an average of just $57 on wedding gifts when part of the wedding party, $47 for close friends or family when not in the wedding party and $48 for more distant relationships. That’s compared to $153, $116 and $63 across age groups, respectively. And if you live in the Northeast, you’re more likely to spend more on gifts, the Bankrate survey showed.
Experts say you can’t just use other people’s spending as your guideline on what to spend. Etiquette expert April Masini says that the couple’s registry holds clues on what you should spend. “If they register at Target and Crate and Barrel, they’re setting the tone — based on what they know about their guests — for gifts starting at $50 and running upwards. If they register at places like Bloomingdales then gifts start at $75 and upwards. Tiffany’s? $125 and upwards — emphasis on upwards,” she says.
As important as any other factor is what you can afford, says Pamela Eyring, president of the Protocol School of Washington. “A minimum amount to budget would be $20 for a co-worker, $50 for a friend and $100 or more if family.”
And you “should never feel priced out of a wedding based on a registry,” says Masini. ”It’s a clue about what a couple wants, and for some people, it makes life easy, but feel free to give your own out of the box gift — whether it’s art you’ve made, a donation to a Zoo or a single place setting that three of you went in on because it’s what you could swing”
This story was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.
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