How much you should spend on a wedding gift?

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How much to spend on a wedding gift per couple? That’s a question alone makes most couples gulp. After all, it’s either their big day or the best day for two of their friends. They want to pull all the stops. The lavish venue, flowers everywhere, organ music playing the bride walks down the aisle and an open bar. It’s going to be a fairy tale affair, you tell yourself.

How much should you be really spending on a wedding? Granted you can cut down on big-ticket items. To get those fabulous wedding photos, though, you’re looking at a sizeable budget. A wedding planner is a must, and so are the florist and the pastry chefs. Now that’s going to leave a dent in your bank account, especially for the lucky couple.

Your friends and family will feel the weight of getting you a present that says they share in your happiness. But when they spend too much on wedding gifts, they’re going to struggle financially. They have rent and other bills to worry about. Overextending themselves on your wedding day will lead to financial hardships down the road.

Here are a couple of facts, surprising ones at that, on wedding day expenditure. The facts are startling for one reason – people know weddings are expensive affairs, but they’re always overspending. Only to wake up the next day – after the emotions have cooled down and the wine is nothing but a dull headache – to realize they might have gone a bit overboard with their spending.

Surprising Statistics on Wedding Day Expenditure

Couples pay a whole lot more for weddings than they do for a down payment on a home. Tell any engaged couple this, and they wouldn’t know whether to call off the wedding or go to the AG’s office to get hitched.

According to The Knot, in 2017, the average wedding cost $33,000 and some change. Wedding dollars were flying out of the family bank well before the day of the wedding. Venues took the lion’s share of wedding budgets at around $16,000, and engagement rings came a distant second at $6,000.

Guests, on the other hand, weren’t too keen on big-ticket items.

When it came to wedding gifts, people weren’t that exorbitant with the average wedding gift from close friends was $128. For millennials, the average wedding gift amount per couple stood at around $151.  So, don’t get your hopes up. No one’s going to foot the bill for the reception.

Unless you know an eccentric millionaire.

But this is good news for guest couples at weddings.  The numbers suggest you don’t have to splurge on a wedding gift. There are tons of things you can get your soon-to-be partner for life or a friend who’s about to get married that doesn’t come with a price tag that looks like GPS coordinates to Antarctica. In fact, you don’t have to think along the lines of luxury gifts for men who have everything when budgeting for wedding presents.

If you’re to take away anything from the above statistics, it should be people spending way too much on wedding presents have no reason to. Large spenders are the exception rather than the norm. There are a lot of ways to celebrate nuptials -whether it’s your own or those of a close friend – than trying to match the Space X annual expenditure budget.

But since numbers don’t really have that much of an effect on people -if they did, there would be far fewer smokers. So, let’s look at how much should a couple spend on a wedding gift without coming out as frugal or extravagant.

Realistic Expenditure on Wedding Gifts for Couples

Mark Twain once quipped “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

That’s what we are going to do here. We’re going to step back a little bit and reflect on why people spend so much on wedding gifts, even though they innately know they can’t afford such extravagances. Hopefully, this will set us down a path into looking at realistic expenditure on wedding gifts and at the same time getting gifts that don’t look like something you picked up from a thrift shop. 

And while we’re on the subject of quirky one-liners from some of the best minds in history, Oscar Wilde is credited with saying “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

But we’ve all known at least one spendthrift in our lives. They never seem to make ends meet, do they? And they’re ever asking for a $20 loan that they never payback. Maybe Oscar Wilde didn’t intend to suggest we spend money like there’s no tomorrow.

But we’re not Oscar Wilde nor do we indulge in his lifestyle of partying and overindulgences. He died broke and alone. That should at least tell you the virtues of living within your means, and why you need to cut down on wedding day gifts.

As a matter of fact, there’s no step for buying over the top gift in any manual on how to plan a wedding step by step instructions.

And without further ado, let’s jump into realistic expenditure for couples shopping for a wedding gift.

To make this guide applies to both the couple that’s about to wed and those looking to surprise them with a gift on their big day, we have different sections for each.

How Much Should a Couple Spend on A Wedding Gift – Guide for The Soon to Be Married

For couples that are soon going to be married, finding a gift for your significant other is often a daunting task. You want to get your soon-to-be husband or wife a wedding day present that says, “This is how much you mean to me.” Also, there’s nothing that tells your partner that you’re looking out for the family’s future than gifting them a considerate present that doesn’t blow up the family’s finances.

Here are the only two rules couples about to be married need to remember when trying to figure out how much they should spend on each other’s wedding gifts.

How  Much Should a Couple Spend on a Wedding Gift

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⓵ Start by Finding What Your Partner Wants

beautiful girl surprise gift

The first rule of finding a wedding present your beau will love is uncovering their preferences and desires. That means you’ll have to dig in deep into what they treasure most.

Get them something that tells them you value them so much that you took the time to figure out what they love instead of relying on a price tag to direct your judgment.

Remember the immortal words of Jenifer Lopez “love don’t cost a thing.” Don’t try and impress your life partner with material things or equate your union with items.

⓶ Think About Your Family Finances

 Family Finances

You’re about to start a family and the last thing you want is starting life with a huge pile of debt. Remember weddings cost more than the deposit you’d need to put down for a good home? Well, instead of spending so much on wedding gifts, why not set some cash aside to help out when everything’s settled. There’s nothing compared to having some cash saved over to help out with bills and other family investments.

How Much Should a Couple Spend on A Wedding Gift – Guide for Wedding Guests

If you’re fretting about an upcoming wedding because you read about the “cover your plate rule” worry no more. Authorities on etiquette all agree the rule is absurd as it gets. And when experts agree on something, us mere mortals better listen.

If this is your first time reading about the rule, it goes something like this – you should at least give a wedding present that at least matches the cost of what the couple is spending per person on the day of the wedding. So if the couple spends $200 per person on catering, the “cover your plate” rule dictates you at least gift them something worth $200 or more.

There are a few problems with the rule. The most obvious equates weddings to transactions. If you give the couple a juicer, then you should expect a few glasses of wine and grilled chicken breast to boot. Conversely, if the couple gives you access to an open bar and an all you can eat buffet, you should probably write them a check for your entire week’s salary. The rule assumes guests have a supernatural ability to figure out what the couple will spend on food and booze. It also presumes all guests have the same purchasing power.

It’s like being asked to figure out the cost of groceries and time spent cooking before you buy a bottle of wine to take to a dinner party.

Put simply, you don’t have to spend more just because the couple opted to host an extravagant celebration.

⓵ Pick Up Something You Think The Couple Will Like and You Can Afford

That brings us to the first rule of picking a wedding gift for. Go for something you can afford but something that also tells them you took time to figure out what they’d enjoy.

⓶ Wedding Are Not Fundraisers – Don’t Feel The Urge to Be Extravagant With Your Gifts

Guests are under no obligation to give at a certain level, no matter how much the hosts spend on the celebration. There’s absolutely no stipulation that you should swap that juicer for a Tesla just because the wedding venue is on a yacht.    

If you feel like you need to splurge a bit, contribute to one of the pricier items on the couple’s registry. No one will think any less of you.

⓷ How Long Have You Known the Couple?

The closer the two of you are to the bride or groom, the more inclined you might be to spend on a larger gift. It is totally expectable to use the relationship with either party at the wedding to answer how much should a couple spend on a wedding gift.

The average wedding gift per couple usually comes down to how well they know the bride or groom. Work acquaintances typically get smaller gifts than family members, and that’s totally acceptable.

⓸ Distance You’re Travelling

If you’re taking a couple of flights and booking hotels to get to a wedding venue, you can get away with lower-priced gifts. The assorted expenses that come with traveling to wedding venues are a valid excuse to skip a gift at the reception altogether. If your budget allows it though, show up with a gift.

Believe it or not, Americans spend an average of $128 on wedding gifts. So if your budget allows it, you can pick up something special in that price range, as long as it’s a thoughtful gift.  

⓹ Beware of the Gifts You Gave For Other Wedding Related Celebrations

The wedding gift should account for the largest part of your gift budget. That means if you’re going to attend multiple events leading up to the wedding, make sure you save the best for last. According to experts, you should adopt the 60-20-20 rule. 60% of your gift budget should go towards the wedding budget while the bridal shower gift and the engagement gift share the remaining 40% equally. It’s not an absolute must to give an engagement gift, though.

⓺ Not going to make it to The Wedding? Send a Gift

If you’re close to the couple and you’re not in a position to attend the nuptials, its good etiquette to send a considerate gift. Even if your finances don’t allow you to buy a present, a heartfelt card suffices.

Frequently asked questions

1. How expensive should a wedding gift be if you are not attending the wedding?

It depends on your closeness to the couple. If you know the couple really wanted you to be there but you couldn’t you should send a more extravagant gift to make up for your absence.

2. Should you miss the wedding if you can’t afford a gift altogether?

You should not stress out about a gift especially if you are not very close to the bride and groom. However, if you have received a gift from them at your wedding, or you badly want to get them a gift but can’t afford to on their wedding day, you can mail them the gift some other time after the wedding.


That’s about all you need to know if you’re looking into how much should a couple spend on a wedding gift. Whether you’re the one getting married or you’ve gone on double dates with the couple, there’s absolutely no rule that states you have to break the bank when buying a wedding gift. Just make sure the gift is thoughtful and you’ll never go wrong.





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