How much money do I give for a wedding gift?
July 31, 2006 10:15 AM   Subscribe

I've been invited to the wedding of the daughter of some casual friends. I live in the US now but most of the weddings I've been to were when I lived in the UK. I'm not sure what an appropriate amount is for a money wedding gift. I've heard it should be equal to or greater than the amount per head the family is paying for the reception. How accurate is this? It seems to me if that's the case, the wedding is less of a celebration than a business transaction. Anyway, I'm afraid of giving an inappropriate amount. Advice please!
posted by TheManticore to Human Relations (19 answers total)
I think $50 would be appropriate, unless you're fabulously wealthy and they know it ;-)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:23 AM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

For casual acquaintances I would give $50.00 and another $50.00 if I brought a guest.
posted by iconomy at 10:23 AM on July 31, 2006

If they didn't provide a wedding registry, ask for one. Then pick something that you feel is an appropriate reflection of the relationship between you and the parents. This is much easier than a money gift.

Alternatively you could find something on the registry that you would have bought if you weren't giving money, and give them enough money to buy that (plus tax and shipping (if appropriate)).
posted by oddman at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2006

I've never heard that guideline for money gifts at weddings. When we give cash, we usually give $100 for close friends, $50 for casual friends. And that's about what we recieved at our wedding (2 years ago).
posted by gaspode at 11:04 AM on July 31, 2006

The notion that guests must calibrate their gift to the head cost of the reception is a) tacky (the reception is a celebration for the guests, not a quid pro quo) and b) impossible (how could you know?)

Seconding the advice that $50 is plenty.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:08 AM on July 31, 2006

as a resident of the super ridiculous tri-state area, specifically north jersey, i can absolutely confirm that "equal to or greater than the amount per head the family is paying" is the usual calculation here. needless to say, having been to about 50 weddings the last 4 years, seeing that calligraphied envelope in the mail makes me want to vomit. although i was also married in that time so what goes around comes around i guess. i in no way endorse this insanity, and it is indicative of one of the many reasons i long to move away before my wife and i start a family, but it is indeed the way things are done here. im going to stop now before this rant gets out of hand.
posted by fumbducker at 11:46 AM on July 31, 2006

Response by poster: Unfortunately I too live in north Jersey. I would welcome comments from others in this area. Fumbducker, your remarks seem to confirm my fears!
posted by TheManticore at 12:02 PM on July 31, 2006

Any perceived "lack" in the amount of your gift will be offset by the extreme lateness of the thank you note. Don't obsess about it. Fifty dollars seems about right to me, too, and I wouldn't double it even if you are going as a couple. If they sent you an "and guest" invitation, they're tacky anyway, as all invitations should be addressed by name.
posted by Joleta at 12:15 PM on July 31, 2006

Joleta - I've never heard that. What if you would like someone to be able to bring a guest but as far as you know they aren't married/dating anyone? Then what?

Also: I've been married a little over a year. I have no recollection of what most people got us, unless it was a very special or unexpected gift, or was no gift at all (not even a card!). $50 would be fine. Most checks that we got were $100. But some of our friends were unemployed and spent far less, or just gave us a card and showed up, or had to make travel arrangments, and that was all fine with us.

I can tell you though, my mother in law keeps track of every gift she gives and every gift we were given by her friends to make certain they are comprable, and I think that is truly, truly, incredibly, horribly, distatesful and tacky.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:34 PM on July 31, 2006

Well I'm from the other side of Manhattan Island (LI) and it would be considered really cheap to only give 50 bucks if its your classic tristate area catering hall/country club.

Seriously try to triangulate what you think its costs and give a little more. Yes its tacky, but thats the etiquette around here.

Other weird LI thing - if you are a close enough friend/relation to get invited to the engagement party you have to give a gift off the registry for that, and then an envelope for the wedding. Kills me. Seriously a wedding is like a $500 committment minimum it feels like.

At least its usually open bar...
posted by JPD at 12:34 PM on July 31, 2006

You didn't say where the wedding is being held. I think that calculating the amount based upon the reception cost per head is a very regional thing. In my experience, it's not something that we consider in the southern US. I usually wouldn't feel comfortable giving a cash gift at all. The SOP here is to find out where the couple is registered and choose something from the list of items they've chosen.
posted by Carbolic at 12:51 PM on July 31, 2006

I've always thought it appropriate to choose something from the registry - my general budget is $100-$200, depending on relationship.
posted by KAS at 12:55 PM on July 31, 2006

I recently got married and have been to several weddings around the tri-state area. I thought that covering the cost of yourself at the wedding was standard but maybe that's just around here. Probably because weddings are so expensive in this area.

My wedding cost about $100/per person. Most guests covered this. A few didn't but I can't say it bothered me in the least.

Keep this "rule" in mind but just give whatever you're comfortable with (or what you wouldn't mind getting if you were getting married). Also keep in mind that a lot of newly-weds use their wedding gift money to start building a nest egg (I know we did).
posted by bingwah at 1:50 PM on July 31, 2006

if you just leave a tag with you on the "from:" field in the pile of gifts, odds are there will be an unlabeled gift that they will think you gave them.

posted by Megafly at 5:53 PM on July 31, 2006

If you want to give $50 (or some amount you worry might be too little), you could give it with a slim book of love/marriage poems or a well-written card with really a memorable good-marriage anecdote, to play up the "we really care and want to make the gift nice; we have miscalculated the amount only because we're new here" angle.

It would be safer to give a registry gift or piece of their china pattern. You can ask the parents for this info. Also Wedding Channel allows you to search several of the most common online wedding registries if you know the name of either the bride or the groom.

Alternatively: you can never go wrong with a nice-looking silver picture frame, and they won't know how much you spent.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:26 PM on July 31, 2006

I am a tri-stater and confirm the cover your head cost rule of thumb. I give in excess of $250 depending on how close I am to the B&G and where the wedding is. A NYC wedding at a big hotel (Plaza type) costs a lot of $$$. When I got marrried 15 years ago, other than from elderly relatives, we generally were given over $100 in cash. (No value judgement, just the facts.)

I concur with the previous poster and would get them something off the registry. You know they want it as they asked for it. If there is something on the registry that is somewhat British like a tea server, I would get that and write a note about how the set reminds you of Mum and wishing them best wishes.

We got money and believe me we appreciated it, but the best gifts, or the ones we still remember, are physical ones. Especially ones we use everyday. I use our plates and know who gave them to us.

If you are going to give cash, I would not worry about the rule of thumb about covering the plate cost. I would give what you can afford and are comfortable with.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:24 PM on July 31, 2006

If they think whatever you give is inappropriate, they are extremely rude and miss the point of a GIFT.

If that happens, you can give them Things You Need To Be Told, and it's sequel, More TYNTBT.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:16 PM on July 31, 2006

Weddings should be fun.
posted by skepticallypleased at 11:28 AM on August 1, 2006

Give whatever you feel like giving, be it item or cash. If they're ungrateful, to hell with 'em. Of course, that's the southern point of view, and I understand that they do things differently in New Jersey. Considering that weddings cost $50000+ in that area, you'd better hope they're inviting a shitload of people.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:16 AM on August 2, 2006

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