Wedding season is in full swing. That means it’s time to bust out the summer suits, make a gameplan for tackling the open bar, and think about which gift to get the happy couple. While weddings are first and foremost a celebration of the love between two people, it is also a centuries-old tradition with its own set of esoteric rules. But rules are meant to be broken so expect “non-traditional weddings” to start becoming the norm. That might mean less formal dress codes, more personal wedding ceremonies, and the start of many new customs.
As someone who just got married himself, I feel I am uniquely qualified to talk about the modern wedding experience – but only as it pertains to me. While my wife and I followed many of the standard classic wedding traditions, we found ways to make it personal. (Argentine barbecue rehearsal dinner, a keg of local craft beer, etc. etc.)
One aspect that is incredibly hard to account for is the rule of gift-giving. Traditionally, wedding gifts were given to kickstart a couple’s married life together in their new home. But, given that most of us already live with our partners (including yours truly) it’s fairly moot. Still, there’s often some sort of registry to guide you and the rise of honeymoon funds has meant there’s still some guidance for gift-giving. And I guarantee you no couple will be offended by a thoughtful card and a check or some cash. But, the question remains, how much should you give?
How Much Should I Give at a Wedding?
Let me set the ground rules here: the couple is inviting you, not your gift. So, give as much as or as little as you are able to. If money is a bit tight, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a nice, thoughtful card. Just be sure to be a good guest. Hit the dance floor. Watch your booze. Congratulate the married couple. Don’t make a scene.
But, if you’re looking for a number, we’d say in most cases that $100 if you’re coming solo and $150 for you and a plus one is a solid benchmark. That being said, there are some extra considerations.
- Are the couple paying for the wedding for themselves? If the wedding is coming out of their pockets, it’s worth taking that into account.
- How expensive is the venue? Most venues charge per plate and while you might not be able to tell the exact number (and I wouldn’t recommend directly asking the couple) you can do a little internet sleuthing to get a sense for how costly the celebration is.
- Are you attending the other events? Rehearsal dinner, after party, post-wedding brunch, these are usually extra expenses for the couple so keep this in mind.
- Did you have to travel for the wedding? The couple knows that flights ain’t cheap right now. And you probably had to get a hotel room, pay for extra meals, gas, and plenty more travel expenses. The couple wanted you there first and foremost so if an expensive gift would set you over budget, don’t sweat it. Go for something small and meaningful.
- Are you in the wedding party? That’s yet another expense out of your pocket. Suits, dresses, extra travel, and the responsibility of helping to make sure the wedding goes off without a hitch.
The most important thing is, of course, showing up for the married couple. You don’t have to get an extravagant wedding present but you have to be a good wedding guest. They have enough things to stress about, don’t add to it.
What Gifts Should I Get for The Wedding?
If the couple has a wedding registry, that should offer a pretty good framework for what you gift. Usually, that will include homegoods, furniture, utensils, art, decor, and more. Plus, many modern couples will start a wedding fund or even a fund for a down payment for their home. In the event that only the big-ticket items are left on the registry or there’s nothing left at all you have a few options.
Going off-registry can be risky but some couples will offer some suggestions for things not available on department store registries. Or, if you know the couple well, you might have a sense for some unique artwork or other meaningful gifts. Try not to double up on any items that were already on the registry and if you do go off registry, consider holding on to the receipt in case they want an exchange.
And, like we mentioned earlier, cash or a check are always viable options. The $100/$150 guideline we suggested earlier should provide a helpful framework but take into consideration your own financial situation. There’s no 1-to-1 formula for cost-of-wedding to cost-of-gift.
The Best Wedding Gifts Under $100
If you’re still struggling to come up with a gift option without breaking the bank, we’ve got you covered with the 50 best off-registry gifts under $100.