How much to give, the value of wedding gift.
January 28, 2013 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Close friends wedding coming up and need to know the right amount to spend on their gift registry, they have various items ranging from $40 upto $250. We're in Australia, details inside...

Rule of thumb for my partner and I is to give, as a couple, $100 at friend weddings and $150 for family weddings (we don’t follow the “cover the cost per head” thing). The wedding in question however is costing me alot of money and I’m wondering if it’d be cool to give closer to $50-$75 than $100 (splitting hairs yes but.....)

I am a bridesmaid (MOH actually) and have accrued alot of expenses for this wedding so far (yes I take full responsibility for signing up to bridesmaid duties). Costs so far include an expensive hens weekend getaway ($350), new dress ($250), makeup & hair on the day ($165), transport costs to the wedding ($60) and engagement gift ($50). The engagement gift we would give in any event so possibly irrelevant. The wedding is a pretty laid-back affair where alot of people are chipping to help to keep their costs low.

As my contribution, the bride is borrowing my $10,000 former wedding dress & accessories. I was a bit shocked initially when I learnt I had to pay my own hair and makeup on the day as I thought she might cover that based on the dress loan but it’s cool, I’m over it now. I also arranged the hens weekend all by myself which was a massive +1month effort to coordinate. I made sure she had zero expenses for the 3 days of hens activities. I ended up being out of pocket (should've been closer to $250) as I didn’t get paid back by some of her other guests on the weekend for things (not her fault just the usual run-around). Ive been happy to do all that I can as she is a close mate so forgive me if it sounds like whinging. I’m also reaching the end of my pregnancy and naturally a bit worried about finances at the moment.

Based on all this, is it cool to give $50 or $75 for both my partner and I, given they have elected those amounts on their registry, or do we stick to our $100 rule in light of all the above? She is a life long friend & important to me so we want to be generous, however I feel Ive been incredibly generous to date whether she sees that or not, and a gift is a gift right - the value won't massively impact our ongoing friendship? FWIW the bride didn’t give a gift at my previous wedding (not that this is a major determining factor).

posted by Under the Sea to Human Relations (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're way over thinking things. A gift is a gift, give what you feel is nice. You don't have to follow a rule and do the same thing for every wedding you go to. $50 sounds very generous to me.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:56 PM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

btw, my former wedding dress was a gift from a very wealthy friend of the family. Its not an indication of my financial situation!
posted by Under the Sea at 7:57 PM on January 28, 2013

If I were her, I would not expect anything from you; your time and effort and money spent is gift enough. However, that's not really how it works. If I were in your shoes, I would give her a very personal and thoughtful, yet inexpensive, gift. You might have to dig deep (like you haven't already!) to figure out what that perfect gift is, though. OR you can just take the easy way out and spend whatever amount of money you want on a registry gift. YMMV.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:59 PM on January 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

My MOH gave me a little care package with little personal gifts (my favorite candy, something old/new/etc, a little note for good luck and some little books that I totally loved) for the night before and that was it. It was great and I truly cherished it. I didn't expect her to give me a gift after travelling, buying a dress and all the rest.
posted by dottiechang at 9:16 PM on January 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Wow, you sound like an awesome MOH!!!

I agree that no gift is required here. I think that a nice, inexpensive, token gift to your friend would be enough and be very thoughtful and hopefully appreciated.
posted by Youremyworld at 9:16 PM on January 28, 2013

Factors to consider when deciding how much to spend on a wedding gift:

1. What you can afford to spend.
2. What you want to spend.

Factors not to consider:

1. What the couple expects you to spend.
2. What the couple thinks you can afford.
3. What other guests will be spending.
4. The average price of the items on the registry.
5. How much the reception is costing per plate.

I loathe the way the wedding industry has forced us to overthink this.

Buy a gift that you think they will enjoy and that suits your budget. It doesn't have to be from the registry (which, by the way, is nothing more or less than a tool to help the guests, not an indication of 'acceptable' gifts or price range). It can cost $30 or $230. Wrap it up and give it with a heartfelt card.

There. You done good.
posted by Salamander at 9:36 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, and if it matters: I'm Australian, too.
posted by Salamander at 9:37 PM on January 28, 2013

Er, not to be disagreeable, but I find a round number like $100 (AUD/USD/CAD/SGD/BZD?) is generally a better amount to have spent on a gift, MOH's duties and extraordinarily-generous-friend's benefits excluded, as just a tedious nod to tradition/expectation (particularly if there are two seated guests attending). Apologies if this seems staid or overly opinion-conscious, but a strange number like something between $50 and $75 ($63?) for two people seems, to me, overly thought-out, penny-pinching and calculated in a way that a round number like a cool $100 doesn't. Also, this perspective is from the former land of Bush, not Australia, so your cultural mileage MV.
posted by charlemangy at 10:40 PM on January 28, 2013

My understanding is that bridesmaids and maids of honour traditionally do not give the bride a gift. In fact, the bride gives THEM a gift. However, I know this is frequently not followed now, and my own experience (being both bride and bridesmaid) has been mixed. Certainly no one will judge you for giving something less costly than usual, though.

I think Charlemangy might be thinking of a case where you give cash. I don't see why a round number matters otherwise. In fact, I bet there's nothing on her registry that's exactly a round number anyway.
posted by lollusc at 11:25 PM on January 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Actually, at first read I missed the bit where your partner is attending as well. In that case, a gift is probably nice, but you can think of it as his contribution, so it would be fair to spend around half of what you would between the two of you normally. And anyway, if there are items on the registry from $40 upwards, then that shows the bride thinks $40 is a reasonable amount to spend on a gift. So something between 50 and 75 is not picking the cheapest thing on the registry and not even close to "cheapskate" territory.
posted by lollusc at 11:28 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

My rule of thumb is:

Normal wedding: £40-£50
Close friends: £80-100+

In my head, I rationalise the higher expense because weddings are supposed to be for life and ideally wedding gifts should last for a while - hence spending more than just a few quid here and there. I like the idea that someone looks at a gift I gave them and thinks of me. I like looking at my wedding gifts (of which there were few, but which were a dining room table and chairs) and think of my friends.

Weddings are expensive, and for most of us there is a five year period in our twenties or early thirties where we spent a lot of cash on travel and overnight stays going to friends' weddings. I feel for you. Many of us have been there. Especially where the bride or groom has opted for an expensive hen or stag do. I do find it a bit odd that you pay for your own hair and make up on the day though. I've never heard of that except for very DIY weddings.

Given your circumstances, a small token gift would suffice. Something well chosen and meaningful will make the same impact as something expensive off the registry.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:29 AM on January 29, 2013

I think the hen party you arranged, hosted and paid for out of pocket was your lovely gift to the bride! Oh, and the wedding dress you are loaning her.

And I'm surprised she is having you pay to have your own makeup and hair done, too! I hope she has at least let you know how appreciative she is, because you sound like an awesome MOH and she is coming across as selfish in this question for asking and expecting you to do so much for her.

Your partner could give a lesser gift, like an envelope with some cash or a small gift from the registry, if you want something tangible to give the couple on their day, but if not, I wouldn't worry about this at all. I'd say you've done your bit and just wedding congratulations are in order at this point.
posted by misha at 12:52 AM on January 29, 2013

You're giving of your time & travelling, you (as a couple) don't need to give a gift. My MOH might someday make me a quilt as a wedding gift, but I've been married 5 yrs, so I am not expecting it. But she and her partner travelled across the country and spent a week with us, so we're good.

If you really want to give them something tangible for their life together, choose something you can afford ($50 is fine).
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 11:54 AM on January 29, 2013

My general tactic with the copious amount of weddings I've gone to in recent years has been to take something relatively in-expensive ($25-$50 range) from their registry and then hand make or choose something personal to go along with it. (Example: They put a wine rack on the registry. We got them the rack, and a bottle of wine from the winery in the town where they met but no longer live near.)

Aside: I'm getting married in July, and I don't expect anything from my bridesmaids (two of my sisters are my only bridesmaids, and even though I bought their dresses and am not asking anything of them in terms of preparations since they're too far away, I recognize they'll incur costs traveling to my out-of-state wedding and staying here that weekend). In general, I'm honestly struggling to come up with registry items because, honestly, we don't need much, and I am uncomfortable with all our friends and family who will incur costs traveling to our wedding also feeling obligated to give us a gift worth $X. I'm honestly OK with no gifts, and I absolutely understand that some of my relatives aren't as financially comfortable as we are blessed to be. I know it's cliché, but their presence alone really is the best gift they can give. From all the wedding blogs and forums I've read, I seem to be in the laid back minority on that opinion though. But you know your friend best, so talk to her about it. I bet she'll see all you've already given her with the gift of your time and friendship.
posted by ilikemethisway at 1:10 PM on January 29, 2013

thanks all for the great advice. we opted for a $50 gift registry item (my partners normal gift share) and a small journal to hold their mementos over their first year together (my contribution).
posted by Under the Sea at 6:23 PM on February 3, 2013

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