The wedding invitation stares at you from the table with all its pastel colors, curly letters and embossments, supposedly unaware of the hours of sleep you will lose over it. Aside from Am I going to attend?’, the real quandary that the innocuous piece of stationery represents is a question of wedding etiquette: How much should I spend on the gift?’
Even with the increasingly popular option of a gift registry being a convenient option for both the couple and their guests in terms of what to get, it presents problems of its own.
Firstly, how will it come across if you select the cheapest few options?
This is rather easily solved – simply augment your choice from the registry with a complimentary addition. For example, if you have chosen the cookware set, a selection of herbs and spices and/or apron and mittens will be a nice touch, and take you over the threshold into what you think would be reasonable.
Of course, reasonable’ itself is the quandary.
One school of thought advocates giving cash or gifts to the near equivalent of what it would have cost the married couple to host you. The trend today is for couples to recoup the expenditure through a preference for cash gifts.
Others would say that the value or cost your choice of gift is best decided by how close you are to one or both of the newlyweds or their parents. In this case, restricting yourself to a price-per-plate calculation would not really be appropriate if the bride is your best friend.
The guide, very generally, is that you should not spend less than $50. An amount of between $50 and $75 would be suitable for a casual work colleague or distant relative. For other relatives and better friends, an amount closer to $100 is more appropriate, and for your inner circle of family and closest friends, between $100 and $150.
Location also plays a part – if the couple lives in a major urban center, it would be prudent to increase the value in the guide above by a factor of 1.5 or 2. As destination weddings become more popular, however, matters are just a tad more complicated. One common perspective is that you could give less if it cost you a significant amount to attend in the first place.
The average amount spent on a wedding gift in 2015 was about $120. That is just right to maintain wedding etiquette and enough to give a unique gift that the couple will use, and remember you when they do.
What kind of unique gift? Well, that’s a whole different article altogether.