Even if you know not to wear white to a wedding or bring an uninvited plus-one, you may be clueless when it comes to wedding gift etiquette. Most guests know to give some type of gift to the newlyweds, but it’s not always clear how much they should spend. The fact that asking for or expecting gifts in the first place is considered poor taste makes the topic even murkier. There is no magic number that applies to all weddings and wedding guests, but with some tips in mind, figuring out how much cash to give at a wedding becomes a lot simpler.
According to Vogue, the traditional idea of covering your meal is no longer a hard and fast rule. Old etiquette books will tell you to spend the same amount on your gift as you suspect the couple is spending per guest. The problem with this thinking is that the cost of the wedding becomes the most important element, superseding factors like the guest’s relationship to the couple and how much they can reasonably give. Guests who can’t afford a pricey gift shouldn’t feel bad about attending an opulent wedding, and conversely, guests shouldn’t give less to a couple hosting a modest backyard affair than they would otherwise.
Based on the old guidelines, $100 to $150 per person is a standard wedding gift, and this still applies today—regardless of how much you think your chicken cordon bleu costs. (The average wedding falls closer to $300 per person today, anyway—another reason why the rule is outdated.) This is a safe zone for cash gifts in 2022, but it’s common to go slightly over or under depending on certain circumstances. If one of the people getting married is a direct family member or best friend, a more generous gift may be appropriate. Coworkers and distant family members, meanwhile, can get away with gifting within the $50 to $100 range, especially if they’re already spending money to travel to the wedding.
Traditional etiquette aside, the most important factor to consider when budgeting for wedding gifts is what you can afford. While you may feel uncomfortable writing a check for less than $50 to the couple, you can check their registry for cheaper items to gift instead of cash. Couples give guests a variety of gift options for this very reason. And if the cost of travel and attire alone are already straining your wallet, your presence is present enough. In that case, you should still bring a card with a note congratulating the couple. They’ll appreciate the gesture, even if it doesn’t come with a check.