Wedding season is officially in full swing, which means we're in for lots of dancing, dressing up, and toasting to happy couples. But one of the downsides that come along with attending weddings? Purchasing pricey wedding gifts. We're all for celebrating the love our nearest and dearest have found, but with the huge spike in weddings that were rescheduled or postponed due to the pandemic, the cost of wedding gifts is racking up fast this summer. So, how do you show your loved ones support on their big day without breaking the bank?
We tapped Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet and Virginia Frischkorn, founder of Bluebird Productions (a wedding planning company) for their advice on how much money you should spend on a wedding gift. And it turns out, several factors come into play when you're scanning your friends' registries, like your income, your relationship to the couple, and if you're going halfsies with a friend or S.O. Below, we broke down how much you should spend on a wedding gift, so you'll never have to sweat over a crystal gravy boat again.
How much to spend on a wedding gift:
So, let's talk numbers. In 2018, NerdWallet conducted a study in partnership with The Harris Poll to determine the average amount of money people spend on wedding gifts. Here are the key takeaways: On average, Americans set their wedding gift budget at $128 for a close friend. However, Millennials plan to spend slightly more, averaging at $151. Even more specifically, Millennial men budget the highest at $180 per gift.
If these numbers are daunting to you, going in on a gift with a friend or partner is a great option for keeping costs down. "Splitting gifts means you can pick a larger gift from the registry and then divide the costs up," Palmer explains. "Just be sure to promptly reimburse the person who makes the purchase via apps like Venmo or a check." Frischkorn agrees that going halfsies is a smart idea if you're on a tight budget, noting, "Sending a gift from a group can allow the total gift to be greater than what an individual can gift comfortably on their own."
Keep in mind that your pals likely don't want you sweating over the price of their gift when debating what to buy to celebrate their marriage. "Your friends don't want to cause you financial stress, so you don't need to feel pressure to give a more expensive gift than you can comfortably afford, especially if you are already spending a lot of money on the wedding itself," Palmer tells HelloGiggles. (Read: Bridesmaids who are already forking over a thick wad of cash for dresses, hair, makeup, showers, and the bachelorette party.)
Of course, your relationship to the couple plays a big role in how generous you'll want to be when gifting; we're guessing you probably wouldn't dish out the same amount of dough for your high school volleyball coach as you would for your closest cousin. "People generally want to spend more when they feel particularly close to a couple or they are a close family member," Palmer says. "But no matter how close you are, it's still important to stick within your budget."
Cost aside, both Palmer and Frischkorn point out that it's the thought that counts more than what's inside boxes. "The best gifts are given with thought and intention and that can negate the dollar value of the gift, in my opinion," Frischkorn says. If registry items are too pricey, personalized gifts like engraved picture frames or personalized cutting boards are super memorable.
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Palmer adds, "If you're looking for ways to spend less, you can consider giving the couple a gift related to a skill you have, such as offering to take photos for them or making a meal when they return from their honeymoon."
Material items aside, the best gift you can give a couple is your presence on their special day. Happy wedding season!