It’s wedding season!
And do you know what that means?…
It’s time for everyone to pull out their wallets and pay some money into the $50 billion dollar industry of wedding celebrations! 🤮
Actually, we might be spending much more than that this year… From what I’m hearing, many couples who got engaged before the pandemic didn’t get to have their weddings last year and are trying to all schedule them this year. Even some couples who did have small COVID weddings, are planning another wedding just ‘cause they feel ripped off from not having a big gathering the first time.
Anway, this has sparked a lot of chatter about wedding gifts. I got the following note from a reader named Heather last week…
“How much should I give for a wedding gift — if I am IN the wedding and have to already spend money on bridesmaid stuff? The bride wants to do a traveling bachelorette weekend which is costing $400 each person, im guessing a bridesmaid dress will be $100 and prolly more costs on top of this. Should I still give them a wedding present too and how much? I was planning to give $150 because they are my close friends, but now I’m thinking no present is OK?
Im not tryna be a cheap friend I just have SIX weddings this coming year to attend and will be in 3 of them. I will be a bridesmaid (2 for sure, 1 hasn’t asked yet but I think they will). So it’s an expensive year and have to think about savings.”
Tough spot! Six weddings in a year is a lot, especially close friends where you might feel you need to give more.
I’m going to share my thoughts on Heather’s situation first, then all you readers can tell me how wrong I am in the comments section. 🤣 My guess is everyone’s got a different opinion on this, here is mine…
When It’s OK to Give a Small Wedding Gift (or None at All!)…
I’ve probably attended 20+ weddings so far in my life and been a groomsman in 6. My wife has been a bridesmaid maybe the same amount of times. Sometimes we give big, and sometimes small.
As a baseline, our standard wedding gift is around $100-$150 (per person attending), so that’s $200-$300 for me and my wife. We like to give cash in an envelope with a card on the wedding day.
But, if either of us is IN the wedding, we usually assume much more. Upwards of $500-$1000+ in total costs (pre-wedding events, travel, outfits and gifts). I know that’s a HUGE amount, but if we’re asked to be included in the wedding, it means we’re very close to the couple getting married and are OK spending money on them.
Here are some guidelines we tend to follow regarding gift giving…
- If you’re in the wedding party, and are expected to spend a substantial amount for your role, it’s probably OK to give a smaller gift, or none at all. Dollar amounts vary depending on how close we are with the bride/groom. (The last wedding I was in cost me $270 for a suit rental, but since there were no other costs (no batch party, etc) and we are close friends with the couple, we also gave a $400 cash gift. If the wedding related costs were more, like $600-$700, we probably would’ve given less. This couple are very close friends of ours).
- If you have expensive travel for a wedding, a small gift is OK. I’ve traveled to Australia, New Zealand, and across the country to attend various weddings. In these cases I’ve given smaller cash gifts, or just a nice card. Usually the wedding couple are just happy that we travelled so far to celebrate with them and don’t expect a big gift.
- If you’re not very close with the bride and groom, don’t feel compelled to give a huge amount. For weddings of distant relatives or “courtesy invites” from couples we’re not really close with, $100 would be my gift amount, I think.
- If you don’t have much to give, a small amount is OK! My Mum told me the most meaningful wedding gift she received was just $5. And it wasn’t even a $5 bill – it was 2 x $2 coins and 1 x $1 coin (Australian money). The family that gave her the money didn’t have much in life, but they gave $5 because that’s what they could afford at the time. Personally, I’m blessed to have never been in this situation. But for anyone out there who doesn’t have much money to give, that’s OK! Any giving is good giving.
Ways to Save Money as a Wedding Guest
If I were in Heather’s situation, here are a few things I can think of that might help…
For the weddings I’m a part of (and if I were really close with the brides), I might have a conversation with them about how much the wedding is costing the bridesmaids and if they want a gift, too. This could be awkward, but there might be a few ways to bring it up in a casual way?
For the pre-wedding events, there’s no harm in bowing out of anything you’re uncomfortable paying for. If a bride or groom asked me to spend money on a trip I couldn’t afford or an activity I didn’t totally agree with, I’d have no problem telling them to continue without me. With the saved money I could give them a bigger gift anyway.
If I really wanted to give as much as possible to all 6 weddings, I’d pick up a small side hustle to cover the costs. Making an extra $2k in a year wouldn’t be that hard with all the gig-economy apps available these days. It’s for a great cause.
Lastly, there are other ways to contribute to a wedding besides cash gifts! At my wedding, there were several people who stood out as “helpers”… They solved problems, always made sure my wife and I had what we needed and were having a good time, helped with some coordination, and even put out a few fires we didn’t even know existed until months later! Sometimes just supporting the marriage and wedding day is more than money is worth. Heather might be a perfect spot to do the same. Being a bridesmaid comes with responsibilities, but if you go absolutely above and beyond the role, then THAT is what is remembered in the long run. Not how much $$ you put into an envelope.
Well, that’s my 2 cents on it.
What do you guys reckon? What are your standard wedding gifts and giving guidelines?
Have a great weekend,