Exactly How Much Money to Spend on a Wedding Gift According To Experts

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sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Aug 15, 2023

You're invited! Being asked to go to a wedding is exciting, but it also raises some questions. Like what to give as a wedding gift and how much to spend on a wedding gift. While wedding gift etiquette doesn't demand an exact price per present, there are certain tips and tricks you can use to figure out how much is appropriate to spend on a wedding gift. We've tapped etiquette experts and our own data from real wedding guests to help pick an appropriate wedding gift amount that's right for you. Below, we break down exactly how much money you should spend on a wedding gift for a close friend, an acquaintance, a couple you don't know and even a coworker. (Can $50 really be enough for a wedding gift? We've got the scoop.) Brush up on our top gift-giving tips below to help you find the perfect present for any lovebirds. Then, when you're ready to shop, check out our roundup of the best wedding gifts to give this year.

In this article:

    How to Budget an Appropriate Amount to Give

    Between prewedding events, travel accommodations and your slay-worthy outfit(s), the cost of being a wedding guest can be pricey, even without factoring in the cost of a wedding present—especially if you have more than one friend or family member tying the knot in a season—so it's best to determine a soft number of how much you'd be comfortable spending on the event overall ahead of time. "Setting aside a specific budget ahead of the wedding and determining your relationship with those getting married, especially in a year when you may be attending a few events, can help take the stress out of determining how much to spend on a gift," says Alissa Van Volkom, Head of Consumer Deposits, Products and Payments at TD Bank.

    Budgeting for a wedding and wedding gift can be difficult since there isn't one go-to price that works for everyone. The amount you spend on a wedding gift depends on a variety of factors, namely your financial status. "The magic number for how much you should spend on a wedding gift depends on what fits your budget," says Lizzie Post, Co-President of The Emily Post Institute. "You should give a gift that's worth what you can afford to give comfortably."

    Hopefully, hearing this advice will offer you a bit of relief. Along those same lines, you should also note that many traditional gifting rules are no longer relevant. "The amount of your gift does not have to cover your 'head' or 'plate,' which is a common misconception," Post explains. "Guests shouldn't even know how much their seat costs at a wedding. Your gift amount also does not have to be influenced by what the couple may have given you as a wedding gift either." And lastly, the formality of the event shouldn't impact how much to give for a wedding gift. "Just because you get invited to a formal event doesn't mean you can suddenly afford a gift at a higher price range," Post adds. "It always goes back to what you can comfortably afford."

    How Much to Spend by Relationship and Situation

    Alright, alright, we know you're looking for at least one number to serve as a jumping-off point. According to our insights, the average wedding gift amount spent by guests in 2022—which is on par with 2021—is $160*. While this data is a helpful starting point, it's also important to consider your relationship with the couple when deciding on an appropriate wedding gift amount. We found that the closer a guest was to the couple, the more they would spend. Below, we break down five scenarios to help you find a number that works for your budget.

    Wedding Gift Amount: Close Family and Friends

    Your BFF is getting married! You've been Pinterest-messaging about this day together for years. Now comes what to get them as a wedding gift. Based on our insights, wedding guests are typically open to splurging on a monetary or cash wedding gift for a loved one, with surveyors reporting an average spend of $200 if it's a close friend. That said, if guests were in the wedding party, they averaged about $170 on a wedding gift. As Volkom suggests, you should evaluate the total amount you've already spent on an engagement gift, a shower gift, the bach party and any other wedding-related expenses before deciding on a wedding gift amount. "It's perfectly acceptable to opt for a more sentimental gift rather than an extravagant gift," she says. You can always give something on the lower end of this spectrum, considering how much you're already contributing to their big day.

    Wedding Gift Amount: Colleagues and Coworkers

    If you're unsure of how much to spend on a coworker's wedding gift, try looking for presents that fall anywhere between $50 and $100. If you've been working together for longer than a year, you might feel more inclined to spend on the higher end of this scale, budget-allowing. (Psst: Check out the top wedding gifts for your coworker or wedding gifts for your boss.) And, if you're still unsure of what to get your coworker, you can always give a cash gift or gift card. "Cash is a perfectly acceptable gift to give on its own," Post shares. "We just recommend that you give a monetary gift with a wedding card so the couple knows who it came from."

    Wedding Gift Amount: Loose Acquaintances

    The wedding day of an acquaintance or a distant relative is no less celebratory. While you might not have a close relationship, you can still get them a great gift to celebrate their love. We recommend browsing presents in the range of $75 to $175 plus. Again, taking the level of your relationship into account—along with your budget—is the best way to choose a present that feels appropriate for you.

    Wedding Gift Amount: Per Couple

    Let's say you're attending a wedding as a or with a plus-one, do the rules about how much to spend on a wedding gift change for couples? Honestly, no. In this scenario, you might consider spending anywhere from $100 to over $200 on a wedding gift. "If you're attending the wedding with a significant other, you can always give a gift together," Post explains. "The gift can be structured any way you want: One person can give the gift while the other just signs the card or you can chip into the gift together. Whether or not you contribute to the gift is between you and the person you're attending with—just make sure both names are on the card." Adds Volkom: "Not only does this option cut costs, it also allows you to put a larger budget towards the gift."

    Wedding Gift Amount: From a Family

    If a wedding invitation has been addressed to your whole family, only one gift is expected and you should budget $150 to more than $200, depending on how much you'll spend traveling to the wedding. Think of it as a group gift, even if kids won't actually contribute any money. If you have adult children who were invited on your invitation, it's their choice (and yours) if they help pay for the gift. However, if they were sent their own invitation, they should prepare to give a separate wedding gift within their budget.

    Wedding Gift Amount: If You Aren't Attending

    Here's a tricky one: How much should you spend on a wedding gift if you aren't attending the actual event? Even if you have to RSVP "no," it's still recommended to send the couple a gift as a token of your thanks for receiving the invite. You may decline a wedding invite for a variety of reasons—but if one major aspect of your decision is the cost, it's understandable if you aren't able to commit to a pricey gift. Regardless of your financial status, we recommend checking the couple's registry to find some ideas in your price range. Look for flexible options like gift cards, cash funds or affordable home items. You can even go in on a group gift with other guests to offset some of the costs.

    The Knot Wedding Gift Amount Calculator

    It can be tricky to figure out exactly how much to spend on a wedding gift. Fortunately, we're here to help. Answer a few simple questions below and our gift calculator will tell you how much to shell out for the newlyweds.

    Your Wedding Gift Money Questions, Answered

    By now, you know how much money to give as a wedding gift—but there's a chance you've got some additional questions on your mind. Is $50 enough for a wedding gift? How long do you have to give a wedding gift? Do you even have to give a wedding gift at all? Read on to find the answers to the most common wedding gift queries.

    Do you have to buy a wedding gift?

    Technically, you aren't required to give a wedding gift—but it's proper etiquette to give something. Thanks to modern registry tools, it's easier than ever to find a present that fits your budget. We always recommend checking the couple's registry to find a variety of options at all price ranges. And, at the very least, you can always contribute what's comfortable to a cash fund or send a check in the mail.

    Should you give the couple cash or a gift?

    Both cash and traditional wedding presents are great options when it comes to wedding gifting. As weddings evolve, it's more common to give money as a wedding gift. (And yes, it's totally acceptable by modern etiquette standards.) In fact, some couples prefer it—hence why there's been an influx of monetary funds (like those available via The Knot Cash Funds) added to registries in recent years. According to our data, 41% of guests who attended a wedding in 2022 gave cash as a gift, compared to 45% who gave a physical gift. (The remaining 13% opted to give a gift card.) Ultimately, you can't go wrong with a wedding gift or money. The choice simply comes down to your personal preference.

    Is $100 enough money to give for a wedding?

    While clocking in a bit below the average price for a wedding gift, $100 is a perfectly fine amount of money to give for a wedding gift. As Post stated above, the right number ultimately depends on what you can realistically afford. Guests are encouraged to use the average cost of a wedding gift—$160—as a starting point but should adjust the number accordingly.

    Do you have to purchase gifts for multiple wedding events?

    While etiquette rules are a bit looser around wedding gifts, they're stricter when attending a wedding shower, so bank on buying at least a shower gift and a wedding gift, if you're invited to attend both events. So, what's the difference? "A wedding shower is the one event where a gift is required because the entire event revolves around giving gifts to the couple," Post says. "If you're ever not sure whether a gift is necessary, check with the host to find out what's expected."

    Giving a shower gift and a wedding gift can be pricey, thus proving the importance of making a wedding gift budget. "Setting aside a small fund for wedding gifts prior to wedding season is a great way to ensure you aren't spending beyond your means and can enjoy your time celebrating," Volkom says. Use your total budget for both shower and wedding gifts, as well as small presents for additional events you may want to give, like an engagement party or a bachelorette party. While you might want to spend an equal amount on gifts for the shower and the wedding, you can give a little more at one event and less at the other.

    Should you pay for a gift if you spend money on wedding travel?

    You might want to skip the gift if you're traveling for a far-flung destination wedding—but the short answer is, yes, you should give a gift for a destination wedding. Some couples may ask guests to forgo a gift, but unless it's explicitly stated, it's courteous to give something to help the newlyweds celebrate.

    *Based on The Knot 2022 Guest Study

    Emily Rumsey contributed to this article.

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