Wedding season might bring with it a lot of questions for the engaged couple but the biggest question for the wedding guests remains how much to give at a wedding?
The question is even more significant if you want to gift cash as a wedding gift- plain cash or a check, irrespective.
If you are thinking of giving cash as a wedding gift then it could be due to any of these three reasons below.
The couple requested for cash instead of gifts which is not too uncommon these days, you didn’t find anything in the registry that made sense or you genuinely believe cash is any day better than any other gift.
How Much Cash To Give At A Wedding
No matter what your reason for giving cash is, your concern is well placed if you are wondering what is the appropriate amount to give. Giving cash as a wedding gift is tricky.
Unlike a physical gift, the recipient does not estimate the value of the gift. They see the exact amount you gave. Therefore, it is always important to give a decent amount.
Giving more than the regular amount is not the problem, giving less, however, can make YOU look stingy…ouch!
So how do you calculate the perfect amount of cash to gift?
There are no hard set rules when it comes to giving money to the engaged couple.
And while the rules are not set in stone but setting some guidelines will guarantee that the amount you give is appropriate not only for the upcoming wedding but even for any future weddings where you gift cash.
Simple Guidelines For Giving Cash As A Wedding Gift
Below are some helpful ways to determine how much to give at weddings.
Wedding Of A Family Member
Your relationship to the couple is certainly one of the biggest factors that would determine how much you should give. A good ballpark for close relatives is $150 and above. If you are however a student or an intern etc and not financially established yet, $75-$100 is fine as well.
If the couple is a family member, they most likely are aware of your financial situation and therefore would not expect or even want you to give something beyond your means.
If the wedding is of a distant family member like a second cousin etc who you haven’t seen in a long time. You don’t have to give as much if you were a close family member but you should still gift a decent amount.
If you do attend the wedding, the gift should be above $100. If you are not planning to attend the wedding but still want to send a small token along with your good wishes it is completely fair to gift just $50.
Suggested: Should You Send A Gift When Not Attending A Wedding?
Wedding Of A Colleague
No matter if it’s the wedding of a beloved or not so beloved colleague, this is the time to display the best of your social manners since you have been extended a wedding invite. $50-$100 is the standard gift amount depending on if you are going to attend the wedding and your relationship with the colleague.
However, it is acceptable to give $25-$40 when pooling in money with other colleagues for the gift. But this is only if you plan on not attending the wedding.
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A Friend’s Wedding
it is a very close friend that is getting married you should ideally give $100 and above. However, the wedding gift amount will vary a bit depending on if you are going to attend other pre-wedding celebrations as well, maybe as a bridesmaid, groomsmen, main wedding party etc.
As part of the bridal party, the amount of money you spend on the wedding tends to go up. You will most likely spend a considerable amount on the dress, shoes, pre-wedding celebrations etc but even then you should not gift cash below $60.
As a general rule, you should divide your gift budget between all the events you will attend, saving the biggest chunk of the budget for the wedding gift.
If you are not too close to the person getting married but are a good friend, you should give $75 and above.
When Bringing A Guest Along
All the amounts suggested above do not take into account any additional guests you might bring along with you. If you are bringing along a guest you should ideally multiply the amount by 1.5. This is the proper wedding guest etiquette especially if your plus one is an adult.
In general, most parents don’t take children of young age to the weddings, for reasons all too well known! But if for some reason, you must attend the wedding with young kids, you do not have to multiply the gift amount by the total number of adults and kids attending.
You should, however, add a little extra.
The guidelines here are to give you an idea of the lower limit, if you want to give more than that, by all means, go ahead.
Popular Wedding Gift Etiquette Myths You Should Avoid
You should also avoid calculating how much cash to give as a wedding gift based on some of the popular myths that were relevant in the past but dated for this day and age.
Gift Amount Equivalent To Cost Of Plate
The age-old advice to give an amount equivalent to the cost of the plate does not hold true anymore.
The main factors that determine how much you should give are your relationship with the engaged couple, how close you feel to them, your financial capability and if you had to make any special arrangements for the wedding.
You should not give less simply because the couple could not afford a lavish wedding feast, and you should not feel obligated to pay more than normal because of a lavish wedding feast either.
The advice is outdated. In olden times couples used to marry at a younger age. That meant guests gave cash to help the young couple with the wedding expenses.
Nowadays couples don’t marry as young, they are also more financially stable when they marry. The cash received at the wedding will most likely not be used to pay for any wedding-related expenses.
Suggested: Should You Give A Bridal Shower And A Wedding Gift?
Gift Amount According To The City
In recent years there have been many discussions around whether the state/ city that one marries in should affect the amount guests should gift at the wedding. For instance, if someone gets married in NYC one should give more vs someone getting married in Oklahoma.
It’s not really a surprise that weddings in NYC cost more than average. But should it impact your decision about how much to gift?
Your wedding gift to the engaged couple should not be based on the city or state where they marry.
The gift for the newly engaged couple should not be considered in the same stride as renting an apartment in a city- the more expensive a city, the more expensive the apartment! Unless the marriage happens to be a destination wedding.
Destination weddings are a popular alternative to a more regular church or backyard wedding. Couples choose exotic locations to get married and spend some good time with close family and friends before the wedding.
But destination wedding also means that the wedding guests would need to spend more money for travel and accommodation impacting their budget for the wedding gift.
Most couples are aware of the cost to the guests and usually don’t have very high expectations. This is the only case where the location of the wedding can be a factor in how much you give.
Your Own Financial Capability
Some might argue that one should gift more since they can afford it!
Not everybody earns the same or can afford the same expenses. You should always gift according to what you can afford.
While there is a lower limit to how much one should give, there is no set upper limit. You can give more if you feel generous. However, there is no obligation to pay more than a decent amount just because others believe you are wealthy.
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Attending A Remarriage/ Second Or A Third Wedding
Expect it or not, some weddings do end up running their course earlier than anybody wishes, and people do remarry!
You might find yourself attending someone’s second or third wedding. Does that mean you should give less this time or should you follow the above rules when deciding the gift amount? The answer is- You should not gift less just because it is not their first marriage.
The reason being it is a separate event altogether. A new invite means a new gift. Just how you would give a gift to someone for their housewarming party and birthday party or giving a birthday gift every year for the same event.
Besides, the couple is also spending money again to host their wedding and throw a spectacular party to celebrate their day with their near and dear ones!
The above is true unless the couple specifically asks for ‘no gifts’ or hosts a house party instead of a full-blown wedding.
Return The Same Amount They Gifted You
You probably had this couple attend your own wedding. It is tempting to go down the memory lane and give the same amount as they gave you, but it is not the proper wedding guest etiquette. You should not make the gift amount the same, as in returning what they gave you.
In this case, it is a good idea to bump up the number a bit for your wedding gift to the engaged couple.
If only either the groom or the bride attended your wedding than most likely they gave a gift from a single person perspective. Also, the time factor applies here. Maybe you got married a long time ago when the person was still not financially stable and therefore could not give much.
Regardless, you should calculate how much to give based on the current situation and time.
Now that the question of how much to give is sorted out you might also wonder if it’s better to give plain cash as a wedding gift or should you rather give a check?
Are Checks Better Than Cash?
Cash or check – They are more or less the same. While the opinion might differ from person to person, but much of this decision is only a matter of convenience and ease more than anything else.When given in person, cash makes a better gift. But checks are better if the only option available is to mail.
The only reason why someone can prefer receiving or giving cash over check could be that whereas a check needs to be cashed- therefore, akin to a delayed gift, cash is an instant gift. Nevertheless, I can assure you whichever option you decide to go with, the couple would be happy to receive it.
When giving cash as a gift it is best to hand it straight to the couple, just to be on the safer side.
And just because you are giving cash as a wedding gift, it does not mean you have to put it in a boring envelope, write congratulations, address it to the couple and hand it in.
Gift ‘Cash Or Check’ With Some Elegance
There are ways to make gifting cash or a check just as beautiful as a regular gift- bring some elegance to it!
Giving money or check inside a greeting card with some heartfelt handwritten warm wishes is the easiest way to make the gift look more thoughtful.
This option also doesn’t add much additional cost. There are plenty of affordable beautiful cards available at most drugstores, craft supply stores etc. to choose from.
If you have the talent, you can also draw a nice portrait for the couple to go along with your gift.
Another option is to place the money or check envelope along with a handwritten note on the back side of a small home decoration item like a wall plaque, for instance.
This one, in particular, can make even a cash gift look more interesting. You can choose a wall plaque or any other home decor item according to the hobbies of the couple.
If the couple likes to travel a lot, you can choose an item with a travel-related quote etc. You don’t have to overextend your budget for this option either. At places like home goods, Tj Maxx etc it is easier to find something nice even under $10.
For a couple who likes to throw parties- keep the cash or check envelope inside a cocktail recipe book, finger food recipe book etc.
While some people frown at the thought and others laud it’s practicality, cash as a wedding gift continues to rise in popularity. Hopefully, the above tips have helped you figure out the ideal amount to give at a wedding.