Reader Question of the Week: How Much Money Per Gift?



My office is set up so that we're grouped in clusters of desks divided by low walls, and since I sit in a more lively area, the days are usually filled with group conversations about whatever interests us that day--whether it be who in their right mind would eat the new KFC Double Down sandwich (gag) or why the Bulls lost in the playoffs (where does one begin). Yesterday, the topic swung naturally to weddings, and more specifically, what to spend on a gift. A certain co-worker, we'll call him Jim, asked if giving his friend $500 for a wedding gift would be "enough". I wish I would have photographed the reaction he was met with from the mix of 20 and 30-something ad agency employees surrounding him. If I was doling out $500 per wedding, I would be writing this blog on the back of a disposed box while standing on the sidewalk and hoping people could read it as they drove by off the interstate. Which brings us to our hot topic of the day--how much do you spend on wedding gifts?

As a general rule, the actual wedding gift is typically around the range the couple paid for each plate at the wedding. You can usually guess the bride and groom spent anywhere between $50 and $200 for their plate, unless their wedding is on an extreme budget or extremely extravagant. A survey around the office (including two brides in their 20's) landed us at an average of between $80 and $150 for a gift, depending on if you're bringing a date and how close you are to the couple.

Of course, what you give depends on what you have in your bank account. If you're going to a number of weddings, you're going to have to get smart about your spending, and be honest with yourself about what you can afford. A bride-to-be I talked to said she would completely understand if her friend couldn't match the plate but gave a thoughtful gift nonetheless. Don't max out your credit card in order to impress your friend--you'll just end up regretting it in the end.

As far as bridal showers and bachelorette gifts, I like to think of it in a sliding scale. If you have $200 to spend on a wedding overall, you could spend $100 on the wedding gift, $60 on the shower, and $40 on the bachelorette party gift if she is a close friend.

In the end, none of this is an exact science, and it all depends on the wedding and what you're comfortable with during that stage in your life. And if you have the funds and want to give the bride and groom $500, let me know your address and I will save an invite to my wedding someday.

What do you typically spend on a wedding? Have you ever wished you could have spent more or that you didn't spend as much?




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