Wedding Gift Etiquette – How Much To Give

Wedding Gift Etiquette – How Much To Give | by Dee Grant | Pictures By Mom | Where Moms Learn Photography | I came across this story in our local news paper about a spat between a wedding guest and a bride regarding the wedding gift they gave / received. Basically, what happened is that the bride (Laura) and bride invited the gift giving guest (Kathy) to their wedding. They were not close friends – more along the lines of acquaintances.  None the less, Kathy accepted the invitation and brought a guest too.  Kathy and her guest were treated to a full wedding reception, including a meal and open bar, costing the bride and groom over $100 per person. For a gift, Kathy gave the newlyweds a wicker basket full of snack food, such as chips and candy. What followed was a chain of emails and text messages that quickly descended into a full out spat…eventually landing in the pages of our local newspaper. The most surprising thing to me is that most comments on the article seem to agree with the guests – that they were in the right to just give the newlyweds a $40 gift between two people! In the end, I think the newlyweds could have handled it better by just accepting the gift for what it was (a cheap gift from someone who didn’t really want to be there) and forget about it (instead of asking for a receipt). But, as a professional wedding photographer and someone who goes to a lot of weddings, the guest was definitely out of line on this one! So if you are invited to a wedding, here are my five tips on wedding gift etiquette for wedding guests. Wedding Gift Etiquette – Five Tips For Wedding Guests 1. Give At Least What It Costs For You (And Your Date) To Be There I was always taught that you should give at least what it costs the bride and groom to have you at their wedding. FYI – if you are going to the reception and are being served a full meal and there is an open bar – it is costing the bride and groom a minimum of $100 to have you there – so your benchmark absolute minimum gift is $200 per couple. Yes – per couple.  It doesn’t matter who your date is.  Some guy you just met or your husband – you should consider covering the cost of both of you. You can scale that up or down depending on the venue and the season. For example, a wedding at a big wedding hall on a Friday in January is going to cost less per person than an intimate Saturday wedding in May at a fancy restaurant (but don’t use that as an excuse to cheap out). If you are wondering what is an average wedding gift – click here. You should also take into account any ethnic expectations.  For example, certain European customs are to give cash only. Personally, I don’t think there is a problem giving items that are of equivalent value to cash – but if in doubt – just go with cash. UPDATE: Its seems that a lot of readers are incensed that the bride and groom would dare to expect a gift.  Some brides do in fact expect a gift – most don’t.  However, if you are invited to a wedding and you want to know what everyone else in the room will be giving the newlyweds – its is going to be something around the value of what it costs to provide your meal and drinks at the reception.  Don’t shoot the messenger. Many readers also seem to get hung up on the idea that we are suggesting that their gift is paying for a lavish wedding.  The reality is, big or small, right or wrong, weddings are expensive!  The cost of the reception is only a fraction of what it costs to host a wedding – so even if you are gracious enough to give the newlyweds a generous cash gift – you are hardly paying for the wedding. 2. Decline the Invitation If You Don’t Want To Give A Respectable Gift There are many reasons why you might not want to spend a minimum of $200 to go to a wedding. You might not be able to afford it at the moment. You might not really know the bride and groom that well and you don’t want to spend that much just to make an appearance at their wedding. Or, you might just be frugal. Whatever. If you’re not prepared to give a respectable wedding gift, just decline the invitation. You will be doing yourself and the bride and groom a favor. And don’t forget that you do have the option to just attend the wedding ceremony if you want to support the wedding couple on their wedding day!  In that case, any gift you give, big or small, would be greatly appreciated. UPDATE: Many readers have pointed out that their presence is more important than their gift and it is not fair to expect them to decline just because they cannot afford a gift. Obviously, this is true…well…as long as you are truly a close friend or relative. The reality is, if you are extended family or an acquaintance that the bride and groom felt obligated to invite…they might just rather that you decline the invitation so that they are not on the hook for your evening.  And while we’re being honest here – do you really want to go to a wedding of someone you hardly know anyway? 3.  Don’t Fake An Expensive Gift Don’t pick something up on sale and then pass it off as worth more than you paid for it – that’s just tacky. Similarly, don’t pick up gift at the Dollar Store and substitute it for a more expensive gift on the couple’s gift registry. If the couple registered for a $300 … Continue reading Wedding Gift Etiquette – How Much To Give