How Much Money to Spend on Wedding Gifts


With wedding season in full swing, you may have several events coming up—and you may be wondering how much to spend on gifts.

Wedding guests who are close friends or family members of the couple spend a median of $120, total, on wedding-related gifts, according to a recently updated 2018 survey conducted by Bankrate. That includes gifts for the wedding, the wedding shower, and the bachelor or bachelorette party. Members of the wedding party don't spend much less: They typically shell out $104 total, while a distant friend or relative usually drops a total of $76.

But your relationship with the couple is only one factor to consider in determining how much to spend on a wedding gift. The Bankrate survey found that guests also consider questions like how formal the wedding is and if it's the couple's first marriage.

Here are some guidelines and tips from experts to help you budget for weddings and related events this summer—and make sure you don't go broke attending a wedding.

The wedding day gift

According to the Bankrate survey, the median wedding gift amount is $50 regardless of your connection to the couple. But that number is just a baseline, says Cary Carbonaro, a certified financial planner and author of "The Money Queen's Guide: For Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Banish Fear."

"Look at the number of weddings you're set to attend. Ask yourself how much you're going to give, are you going to the shower and how much to give for that, and do you have that money?" says Carbonaro. She adds that it's OK to deviate from the median and factor in your income: "No matter what, if you're going to a wedding, you have to budget, budget, budget."

That's what Christie Motz, a 35-year-old from Cincinnati, did when she attended five weddings in the summer of 2011. After weighing factors including her income and the number of weddings she was attending, Motz decided to set aside $50 cash as a wedding gift for each.

"I always give cash, because I feel like a lot of times newly married couples are saving for big purchases, like a house," says Motz. "When I was single and budgeting, I gave $50. When I got married, I started giving $100."

Also, consider special circumstances: At a destination wedding, for instance, your attendance can be considered a gift since the cost of flights and overnight accommodations can add up quickly, adds Carbonaro.

The shower gift

The median a wedding party guest spends on a shower gift is $50, according to Bankrate. Shower gifts are customary, but not mandatory: If you feel strapped for cash, consider going in on a present with friends. "Combining efforts as much as you can can really help cut down costs and [allow you to] give a really nice gift," says Motz, who is currently helping to plan her sister's wedding.

The bachelor or bachelorette party gift

For a bachelorette gift from a close friend, the median is $20—although that figure doesn't include the other, often bigger costs related to the event, like drinks and special attire.

For Motz, bachelorette parties sometimes doubled as weekend getaways. If the celebration is more expensive in that case, because it includes paying for transportation and accommodations, for example, Carbonaro says it's fine to spend less on the present.

And if attending the wedding at all will put too much of a dent in your savings, it's OK to politely decline. But keep in mind nearly 60% of respondents to the Bankrate survey said they would give the same gift for a wedding they did not attend.

Ultimately, remember that you're there to celebrate the couple, says Carbonaro. "If you're stressed about it, something's wrong—you're overspending."

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