Dear Donna: I need Wedding Gift Advice!


Dear Donna,

Help! I've been invited to a wedding and cannot go. I know I need to send a gift but how much is appropriate? We used to be very close and now we only see each other occasionally. Still, she invited me to her wedding with a guest so I'm a little confused as to what I should do. Any advice you have is appreciated! 

Thank you,

Confused in Canton


Dear Confused in Canton,

This is a fantastic question and it's a great follow up to last week's blog post on "plus one's" for a wedding. You've been invited to the wedding and now you need to get a present. 

Here are the questions I get asked often and my answers:

Q: I've been invited to the wedding (with a guest) but I cannot go. Do I still need to bring a present?

A: YES. In the most basic of terms, an invite equals a present. 

Q: Ok, so now I know I have to get a present. How much should I spend?

A: This question is definitely more difficult to give one answer for. The rule of thumb used to be that the amount of your gift should cover the cost of your reception meal. Now, depending on what area of the country you live in, this could be $20 per person or over $200 per person. These days the general rule that people follow is giving a gift depending on your closeness/relationship to the couple. 

We think it is in poor taste to spend less than $50 - wherever you live. You should use your judgement in making a decision on the amount of the gift based on the location of the wedding and the closeness of your relationship.  For your best friend's wedding in New York City, you will probably need to shell out a little more money for the gift than your distant relative's wedding in El Paso. 

In general, we offer this range for our readers:

  • Distant relative or co-worker - $50 - $75
  • Relative or Friend - $80-$100
  • Close relative or friend - $100 - $150

For any large city, (LA, Chicago, New York City, Boston, etc) add an extra $25-$50.

Q: Ok, now I know how much to spend on the gift. What do I get for a gift?

A: In some circumstances, cash or a check is the most acceptable form for a gift. A gift card to their registry store is always a lovely idea and that being said, a gift off the registry is also great. Some people (like yours truly) likes to go "off registry" and try and get something very unique and special to the couple. But when in doubt, cash or a gift off the registry will always be appreciated.

Q: When do I bring the gift? To the wedding?

A: Even though "Dear Donna" has set up many gift tables and made many gift card boxes, it will be most appreciated and actually easier if you ship the gift directly to the couple. This prevents them from having to carry the gifts at the end of the night or worry about losing money (or worse yet, someone stealing money). And if you think people don't steal gifts from a wedding, you are sadly wrong. We strongly advise to send the gift to the couple before or right after the wedding. Make sure you find out if the couple is going on a honeymoon right away because if they are, wait to send the gift until they come back.

We hope these little bits of advice help you in your gift giving dilemna! Remember we are here to answer your wedding related questions! Have a great weekend!