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Wedding Gift Etiquette: When to Give Money, How Much to Spend, and What to Buy

Wedding Gift Etiquette: When to Give Money, How Much to Spend, and What to Buy


When it comes to people you care about, it’s a given that—any time money enters the equation—things get tricky. Especially when it comes to the act of giving gifts for momentous occasions like weddings. Sure, we’re beyond happy to be giving our just-married friends and family presents to start their lives together, but it can be bewildering to pinpoint wedding gift etiquette. How much to give? What to give? When it give it?

To lift the shroud of confusion that so often surrounds wedding gifts, we enlisted Anja Winikka, site director at, who offered 10 tips about wedding gift etiquette, including much money to give, when to give it, and when it’s okay to not give money at all.
weddinggiftguide Wedding Gift Etiquette: When to Give Money, How Much to Spend, and What to Buy

1. If I want to give money, how much is customary if I’m invited to a friend’s wedding as a single?
Anja Winikka: How much you give really depends on your relationship with the bride and groom. Here’s a useful breakdown:
If you’re a co-worker or a distant family friend or relative: $75 to $100
If you’re a relative or friend of the bride or groom: $100 to $125
If you’re a close relative or a close friend: $100-$150+

2. How about if I’m invited with a guest?
There’s no hard-and-fast etiquette rule on this one, but it’s customary to give a bigger gift since the couple is now hosting (read: paying for) two guests rather than one.

 3. What’s the deal with a wedding gift if I’m also giving presents to the bride for her pre-wedding activities?
Determine how much you want to spend total on wedding-related gifts and then break it down this way:
20% engagement party
20% bridal shower
60% wedding

4. Is it acceptable to give an actual present as opposed to money? If so, does it have to be something from the couple’s registry or can I get creative?
We strongly recommend sticking to the registry. The couple created it for a reason and you’ll definitely be getting them something they’ll love. If you really want to go off registry though, think of their personalities and find a gift that’s geared toward their likes and hobbies. A few examples:

  • If they’re coffee lovers, think about giving the couple a sleek Senseo coffeemaker, which churns out custom cups of coffee from easy-to-pop-in pods
  • If the couple are gourmands, try a Krups panini maker, which can create sandwiches, desserts, and can double as a grill for standard meats and veggies.
  • A great all purpose gift? A set of super-soft pillows, a thick down blanket and a pair of high thread-count hotel towels.

5. Fact or myth: I have a year to give to a wedding gift?
Fact. Guests do have up to one year after the wedding to send the couple a wedding gift, but you really should gift it sooner if you can.

6I always feel awkward shoving an envelope in the bride/groom’s hand at the wedding. What’s the right time to do it during the wedding?
At the wedding, consider giving the gift to a close family member—one of the bride or groom’s parents is ideal—they’re likely holding on to everything or they’ll know who is is. The bride and groom have so much going on, it will be difficult for them to figure out where to put it and who to give it to for safe keeping.

MORE: 26 Dresses to Wear to a Winter Wedding 

7. Do I have to bring the gift to the wedding, or is sending it acceptable?
You can definitely send a check in the mail. This one’s all about your comfort level—if you prefer to mail it and not have to worry about it at the wedding, then do that! If you’d rather give it in person, then that’s okay too.

9. If I’m traveling to a destination wedding , is it acceptable to give less as a gift?
Generally, if you’re spending a good amount of money to get to the wedding, then it’s okay to gift less than you normally would. But make sure that you do give a gift. Although a destination wedding can be extra-expensive for guests, you should give something. The couple will understand you’ve spent a lot between the travel and hotel, so don’t feel pressure to give an overly generous gift.

9. If I’m married, should I always give the same thing as I received?
Not necessarily. The gift should directly relate to your now-relationship with the couple and how much you can personally afford.

10.  Is it in bad taste to give cash?
Nope, it’s okay to give cash—this falls along the same lines as giving a check, as both are giving money as a gift!

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