How Do You Decide What to Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Today we’re going to discuss a point of etiquette!  This post was inspired by a recent invitation we received to our first black tie wedding of our peer group.


Since we’ve been married, Kyle and I have worked out a standard amount of money to spend on a wedding gift.  We choose gifts from the couple’s registries that total to about $70-80 so with tax and (sometimes) shipping it’s usually around $80-90.  That range is purely based on what we’re comfortable spending at our income level.


I know people sometimes allow some other factors to influence the amount they spend on a wedding gift, such as:

  • the perceived price/fanciness of the wedding (“pay for your plate” model)
  • the closeness of the relationship with the bride and groom
  • whether or not you attend the wedding
  • how much the bride and groom spend on their gift for your wedding
  • how many wedding-related parties given in honor of the couple that you attend


The only one of the above list that we have allowed to deviate us from our range once or twice is if we didn’t attend the wedding – other than that we stick to it.  I can definitely see the merit of letting the factors above influence what you spend, but we just don’t want to mess with individualizing every price and trying to figure out how much the wedding costs (how do you do that in advance??) and how much we like the couple and so forth.  I’d love to give all of our friends and family larger gifts but it’s just not feasible until we get real jobs!


What is the primary factor influencing how much you spend on a wedding gift?

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How did you answer the poll, and if you are comfortable what is your price range?  Do you even buy off-registry gifts or give cash (we stick to the registry)?  Do you like to bring your gift to the reception (we almost always buy online and ship)?


excited about one of our first wedding gifts

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31 Responses to "How Do You Decide What to Spend on a Wedding Gift?"

  1. Daisy says:

    I usually just buy from the registry. There’s no point in going off of it, because they already determined what they want! I will spend varying amounts based on how close I am with the person but usually it’s under $100.

  2. Lauren says:

    I usually buy from registry and in the $50-$60 range but am more than willing to spend more on closer friends and family. However, for my best friend’s recent wedding I arranged a big group of our friends to do an off-registry gift. It was a year’s worth of dates (things like tickets to the iMax, the Museum of Life and Science, gift certificates for dinner, a kayaking excursion on Jordan Lake, etc). I think they’ve been really enjoying it.

    1. Emily says:

      Wow, that’s a wonderful idea!!!! Was it a set package that you bought or did you pick out the individual activities?

  3. Jessica says:

    I always buy from the registry or if there’s nothing left that I can buy, I get a gift card from the registered store. The amount I spend on a gift depends on how much money I have at the time.
    Jessica recently posted..Transitions and Finances

  4. WorkSaveLive says:

    We have a set price of $50/couple. I like the idea of “paying for your plate” but why should I have to pay more because the person decided to have a fancier wedding?

    I’m good with $50. 🙂
    WorkSaveLive recently posted..Should You Buy a Car Through CarMax?

  5. Michelle says:

    We’ve spent about $50 apiece on the last two wedding gifts we purchased. They were close friends, not family. I love putting extra thought into the gift, like including something that doesn’t cost much (or anything) but will make the couple smile and know that I did a little more than just point and click. I think, if we had more money, I would just buy a more expensive gift and not worry about making it personal. I love to give gifts and want my receivers to feel loved when they open it–that’s the most important part!
    Michelle recently posted..I Ain’t Sayin’ She’s a Gold Digger

  6. I always went with $50/wedding in cash in the past but that was when I was a student. I suppose now that I’m a grown up I’m going to have to revisit that number. I always prefer to give cash, so the couple can buy whatever they want.
    Jordann @ My Alternate Life recently posted..From Spendthrift to Frugal: The Stages

    1. Emily says:

      We liked cash! We used it for our honeymoon.

  7. I answered with the “set price range” and that’s usually where I go. The range is about 100 bucks, but I’ll just look at the registry and if I find anything for that or lower, I’ll go ahead and pick it up. Usually, I’ll buy online and ship, but for the last few weddings i’ve been in I was in the wedding party, so I just gave it to the bride and groom at a separate time.
    Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog recently posted..Closing Day

  8. $100. Unless I really don’t know them very well, then less. And if I’m the +1 he has to make the decision and buy the gift!
    Frugal Portland recently posted..My Lowest Point, Part 2 of 2 — the guy on the Amtrak Cascades

  9. I always go off the registry. And I spend what I can, but usually no more than $70. If I’m in a better place in the future, I’ll open up my budget. And I don’t feel pressured to buy my plate. They wanted everything on that registry, even the not so lavish stuff. People know I’m a college student, and if they didn’t want a college student mulling over their wedding registry they wouldn’t have invited me.
    femmefrugality recently posted..How to Stretch Your Body and Your Soul

    1. Emily says:

      We usually try to buy the more mundane stuff off the registry. When we got married, that was the stuff we really needed. Towels! We had like two ratty old towels between us and listed new towels under the highest priority category on our amazon registry, and didn’t receive any! Not blaming the gift-givers of course because we loved everything else we received but I figure if something not sexy is on the registry it’s because it’s REALLY NEEDED so that is what we buy.

  10. To be honest, the first time I actually bought a wedding gift was for my wife’s uncle’s wedding. They had a bunch of kitchen gandgets on their registry, and we bought $50 worth of small items.

    Prior to that, I’d only been to weddings of close friends and I would just slip a $20 in a card.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Interview success: Our 5 steps to job perfection

  11. Michelle says:

    I always like to give cash, and lately it’s been around $100.
    Michelle recently posted..My Weekend and My Car Rant

  12. We do $50 for regular peoples and $100 for relatives. For $100 we generally write a check, $50 it depends on if there’s anything on the registry in our price range or not.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Freelancing: Thoughts on Scalzi’s “You’re not fooling anyone

  13. I usually give $100 cash. But the last few weddings that I went to, the couples requested cash.
    Dannielle @Odd Cents recently posted..Comment on How to Choose the Right Bank by WorkSaveLive

  14. […] 3) How Do You Decide What to Spend on a Wedding Gift? […]

  15. I’ve found that if I give more personal or creative gifts, it doesn’t matter as much on how much I spend. The more sentimental the gift, usually the lower the price can go. But also, random story. My parents received an ice cream scoop from a man who owned a mortuary and guess what, 30 years later we still use that ice cream scoop, and none of us siblings or my parents have found a scoop that can rival it. My parents still remember who gave it to them and are still using it 30 years later, and it is just an ice cream scoop.

  16. […] and I committed to attend the black tie wedding in Chicago that I’ve mentioned a few times.  In addition to attending the wedding itself, we are […]

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  20. […] always try to get a good deal on a registry gift.  We have a set amount of money to spend on each wedding gift, so instead of trying to save ourselves money we just try to get a great value for the bride and […]

  21. SarahN says:

    Wow, I wouldn’t feel right buying a gift less than $100 because I know they’ll be paying so much for the wedding :s That being said, with out of town weddings, I’m inclined to pay less on a gift. And money is ok in Australia – so few people need stuff from registries, as they largely live together already. The one wedding with a registry had some very high end items on it!
    SarahN recently posted..Book Review: Kitchen

    1. Emily says:

      All the “they deserve more”/”they deserve less”/”we can afford more now”/”we can’t afford as much now” thoughts are the reason that we have a uniform policy for all weddings!

      1. SarahN says:

        You’re a smart cookie for setting an arbitrary amount, for sure. I’d just need to learn to feel right about it. The upcoming wedding is ‘no gifts required’ which feels wrong to follow!

        1. Emily says:

          Haha, I guess gifts are never “required” but yeah we wouldn’t opt out. :/ We’ll probably have to break our gift rule if my siblings ever get married, though.

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  23. […] We can get free shipping if we spend $100, but that’s more than we spend on wedding gifts. […]

  24. […] much money i need to give for a black tie wedding?” – The same as you would give for any other type of wedding.  When are people going to learn that you do not need to pay for your […]

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