June 2

Diva Dish: How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Dear Divas,

A friend of mine from college recently got engaged.  I was invited to her wedding, but because I live out of state, I’m unable to attend.  I still want to send her a gift, however, we haven’t been close for a while.  What is the appropriate amount to spend if I’m not attending the wedding and haven’t maintained a close relationships with this girl?  On the same note, what is the appropriate amount to spend if I AM attending a wedding (with a date) of a close friend?  Help!

Gift Gal


Dear Gift Gal,

What a great question!  I think this is something that almost every person has to deal with at one time or another.  Especially in these tough times, digging deep in the pockets for a wedding gift can be rough.  Therefore, it helps to know what proper etiquette states is the correct amount to spend.

Happily, the truth is that you should spend what you can afford.  There is no sense in breaking the bank if you truly can’t afford it . A gift is just that–a gift–and the bride and groom will appreciate anything you can afford to give them.  If you do want some sort of gauge, though, the rule of thumb is to try to spend as much as you think your meal would cost.  If it’s a buffet, a safe guess is around $40-$50 a person.  If it’s a served meal, I’d guess closer to $75-$100 a person.  Again, it’s okay to adjust these numbers to fit YOUR budget!

If you’re not attending the wedding but want to send a gift anyway, any amount really works.  A small token of your congratulations is welcome at any amount.  I tend to spend around $50, however, if they’re close friends I’ll spend more, if they’re more distant, I might even spend less.  You’ll be appreciated for being a thoughtful person in spite of your inability to attend the wedding.

Happy gifting!


4 thoughts on “Diva Dish: How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift?

  1. Alissa

    Just wanted to note- a lot of times, buffets are just as expensive as plated dinners- if not more- Caterers need to make more food for buffets, so while there aren’t as many servers, there is an increased food cost.

  2. D.

    I really think that the pay what you think they’re paying for you to eat rule is extremely tacky. Etiquette mavens might be out to get you for this post!! There is absolutely no rule stating that you MUST buy a gift, but of course it’s the nice thing to do. I would say the best rule is buy what you feel comfortable buying and leave it at that — the bride and groom will appreciate your generosity regardless of how much you spend on them.

  3. MidwestElle

    It would never occur to me to ask whether it’s a buffet or a seated dinner. Sometimes they don’t put “chicken or fish?” on the rsvp card even if it is a sit-down dinner.

  4. Pingback: wedding planning

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