How much money should you give at a wedding?
Although there are no hard and fast rules for how much you should give to a bride and groom at their wedding, on average a guest will fork out $100 to the couple. This figure, however, depends on a range of factors, including how well you know the bride and groom, how much you earn, and if you are even attending (or not attending) the wedding. From how much money to give as a wedding present to how much money to give at a wedding in Australia, here’s our go-to guide.
What is your relationship to the bride and groom?
How close you are to the couple will play a factor in how much cash you may contribute to the wishing well. The amount you give to a colleague versus a family member such as your son or daughter, for example, will differ. The wedding website The Knot recommends the following amount as a general guide:
- A colleague or a distant family friend/relative: $50-$75
- Friend/relative: $75-$100
- Close friend/relative: $100-$150
The cost may also vary depending on the situation. A flashy upscale inner-city wedding might set you back a little bit extra: around $150-$200, versus a low-key event where $50-$100 is acceptable.
How much you earn
You shouldn’t have to drain your bank account just to make the bride and groom happy. Assess your financial situation and look at – realistically – what you can contribute without breaking the bank.
If you’re strapped for cash, The Cusp recommends getting creative with your gift. There are other ways you can chip in for the wedding without having to spend too much – think a DIY wedding gift or donating your time to help the bride in the lead-up to the wedding. If you’re great at public speaking, you could offer to MC at the wedding, or if you have a background in design, the bride might love your input in the design of the wedding invites. The couple won’t expect you to splash a lot of cash if you’ve already spent a lot of time helping out.
How much did the wedding cost the bride and groom?
According to One Flare, the average Australian wedding costs around $51,000. $9000 is the typical amount spent on catering for approximately 96 guests, which sees the couple spend just under $95 on each guest. The common ‘Cover your plate’ rule expects that guests spend a similar amount on the couple that the bride and groom spent on their plate at the reception.
However, wedding planner and etiquette expert Xochitl Gonzalez told Huffington Post that this rule is ‘outdated’.
“No guest, unless a recent bride or groom themselves, could possibly have any conception of what they would need to give to ‘cover their plate’ and no bride or groom should expect them to,” she said.
What if you can’t attend the wedding?
If you can’t be there for the actual ceremony, it’s considered a nice gesture to buy the bride and groom a wedding gift. If you’re close to the couple, Wedding Wire say a gift worth around $50, plus a card with your well wishes is appropriate. However, if it’s a distant relative or a non-close friend, a handwritten note expressing your regret at being unable to attend is a nice idea.
Can you write a check for a wedding gift?
If cash is out of the question and you plan on writing a check for the newlyweds, don’t include their surname in the ‘To’ section.
Vogue explains that when it comes to cashing in checks after the wedding, “the bank will sometimes not accept checks that don't have the registered account name”, advising it’s best to address the check to one person.
If you are buying an actual gift does that change the amount?
At the end of the day, only spend what you’re able to afford. Look at the big picture of the overall costs of the wedding: if it’s a destination wedding or you’re in the bridal party, you’ve already contributed a significant amount of money so it’s unlikely you’ll be expected to give a gift too.
Anthony Navarro of Liven It Up Events told Brides.com “The couple wants you to be there to celebrate with them, so prioritise your budget however you need to to mkae that happen—even if that means a smaller gift so you can cover the cost of the hotel room.”
Can you buy something that isn't on the registry?
Although it’s not considered overly impolite, there is risk involved with buying a gift off the registry. Unless you’re very close with the couple and are sure that the gift will be well received, it’s a good idea to stick to the gift registry. If you’re struggling to find something on the list that doesn’t fit your budget, a gift certificate is a great alternative which the couple will find useful.
According to The Knot, your best bet however, is to stick with the gift registry: “Using the registry to purchase a gift is smart. It doesn't mean that you, the guest, are not creative or that you're too lazy to search for an original gift. What you're doing is buying the couple something that they need and want, so you know they'll love it.”