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Wedding Gift Etiquette: How Much Money to Give & Other Pressing Questions

Etiquette explained.
wedding gift etiquette

When it comes to people you care about, it’s pretty much a given that any time money enters the equation things might start to get a little sticky. Especially when it comes to wedding gift etiquette. Most of us are thrilled to be giving our just-married friends and family presents to start their lives together, but it can be confusing to the nth degree to pinpoint the exact amount we’re supposed to gift.

To lift the mystery a little, we enlisted Anja Winikka, site director at, who offered 10 tips about wedding gift etiquette, including how much to give for a wedding gift if you’re going the money route, when to give it, and when it’s okay to not give money at all.

If I want to give money, how much is customary if I’m invited 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: $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: $150+

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 to eat and drink rather than one.

 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

MORE: 15 Meaningful, Not-at-All Cliché Quotes to Read at Weddings

Is it acceptable to give an actual present as opposed to money? 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. If all else fails, you can never go wrong with a crystal ice/Champagne bucket from Tiffany.


Rachel Kara

Fact or myth: I have a year to give to a wedding gift?

Fact. Guests technically 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. That way, you won’t forget, and it’ll be off your plate.

I 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. Otherwise, give it to the bride or groom at brunch the next day if it’s a weekend affair.

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.

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.

Photo: Digital Vision/Getty Images

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.

Is it in bad taste to give cash?

It falls along the same lines as giving a check, as both are giving money, but if you personally feel there’s a stigma, just write a check.

Originally published May 2016. Updated June 2017.

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