How much do people actually spend on wedding gifts?

by Team GFTED on June 12, 2020

If it feels like perpetual wedding season for you, you are not alone.

Although weddings are romantic, fun and beautiful, they also mean wedding gifts. The truth is that when it comes to buying a wedding gift, it can get a bit confusing.  How much should you spend on a wedding gift? Does traveling mean you spend less on the gift? What about if you bring a plus one?

Responses may vary depending on who you ask, and we did just that. We surveyed 1,500 people between the ages of 18 to 65+ and asked them how much they spend on a distant friend, good friend and family member. Respondents were able to choose from seven price ranges: $0-$25, $25-$50, $50-$75, $100-$125, $125-$150 and $150+. With these findings, we compiled a list of wedding gift tips to make sure you and the couple are happy.

People spend an average of $75-$100 on a wedding gift for a family member and close friend.

It seems as though close friends are considered family. Every age group, with the exception of 55-64 year olds spent, on average, the same amount on gifts for friends and family. However, 23% of 55-64 year olds spent $0-$25 on family members, which is higher than the 19% that spent $75-$100. 

People spend $25 or less on distant friends or acquaintances.

The majority of respondents across all age groups spent $0-$25 on wedding gifts for distant friends. 

Men are willing to spend more than women on wedding gifts for close friends.

More men reported spending $150 or more on close friends, while women stayed within the $75-$100 range. Our guess is that women tend to look for better deals and spend a little more time researching what they want to get, while men are a bit more practical and go straight for the registry.

Older generations don’t necessarily spend more on wedding gifts.

It was a little odd to see that 55-64 year olds were willing to spend $75-$100 when it came to their close friends, but the least amount of money on family members.  This isn’t a particular trend with older generations however, since 21% of 65+ year olds were willing to spend $150+ on family members.

The Northeast is most generous when it comes to wedding gifts for close friends and family members.

The Northeasterners are pretty generous. They spend $150+ (above average) on friends and family members, whereas only 15%, on average, spend that amount in all other regions. 

The South is the least generous when it comes to family wedding gifts.

When it came to family wedding gifts, 23% of the South spent only $25-$50 on family members compared to an average of 15% in all other regions who spent the same amount. However, when it came to close friends, 24% of Southerners spent $75-$100.

Wedding Gift Etiquette

There are many questions that arise when it’s time to purchase a wedding gift. We’ve answered the most common ones and provided some tips on how to make your wedding gift spending a little easier.

  1. How well do you know the couple?

If it’s one of your closest friends or an immediate family member, it’s safe to say that you should put more thought (and money) into the gift. If it’s a distant friend or acquaintance, it’s OK to keep the cost a little lower. Just keep in mind that an invite means that the couple wants you to be part of their celebration. Just as it is common courtesy to bring a small gift when invited to a dinner party, you should also bring a sign of gratitude and well wishes to a wedding.

  1. I am spending on travel, do I still need to bring a gift?

There’s debate whether you or not should spend less on a gift if you already spending on traveling for the actual wedding — which means flights, hotels and sometimes even a babysitter. While there is no set rule, your travel expenses may change your intended wedding gift budget. For the most part, the bride and groom know how much planning it takes for their guests to show up, so even a small token would be much appreciated. If traveling, send the gift prior to the wedding to avoid having to bring it on board.

  1. Should I always buy from the registry?

Chances are that the couple already thought out what gifts would be best for them and created a registry. However, don’t wait too long to do so or you’ll find the most expensive gifts are the only ones left to purchase.

  1. Is it okay to participate in a group gift?

Group gifts are convenient because they give a little more flexibility; you can spend within your budget and still get an amazing gift. This is a  perfect opportunity for co-workers, single family members, lifelong friends or bridesmaids to buy a bigger gift such as a knife set or a fun activity for their honeymoon. Check with the group to find out how much to give for a wedding gift. 

  1. Is a cash gift frowned upon?

Cash is sometimes seen as a thoughtless gift because there wasn’t enough time dedicated to choosing something creative. But, there are couples that actually encourage cash as presents! In some traditions, there is a basket left out for friends and family members to place envelopes in. Regardless, cash is always helpful for the honeymoon, paying off the wedding or buying leftover registry items.

  1. I will not be able to attend the wedding, do I still need to send a gift?

If you are not able to attend the wedding you can still send a gift, especially if it’s a close friend or family member — but you are not required to. Sending the gift prior to the wedding is best, but you can send one up to a month after the wedding has taken place.

  1. Am I still required to spend on a gift if I am in the wedding party?

If you are part of the wedding party, the bride should know that between the dress, shoes, bridal shower and the bachelorette party you have already spent a pretty good amount. In this case, sometimes it’s best to give the bride or groom a personal gift such as a pretty pendant or a picture frame.

  1. When do I give the couple their gift?

Even if you are attending their wedding, it’s always best to send the gift to their home prior to the event. This will prevent your card or gift from getting lost, since weddings can sometimes be a scramble.

  1. Do I still need to bring a gift if I brought one to the bridal shower?

The short answer is yes. But the best thing to do is split your spending budget into two gifts: one for the bridal shower and one for the wedding. The only exception is if you are helping plan the bridal shower, since you’ll be spending on some of the arrangements (such as food and decor) already.

There are technically no set rules when it comes to gift-giving, only suggestions. Gift giving should be very personal and remember, thoughtful gifts are the best gifts. Need some ideas? Check out our personalized engagement and wedding gifts, ranging from pretty champagne flutes to decor gifts for the new home. With these suggestions, perpetual wedding season will be a breeze.

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