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How much should you spend on wedding gifts?

Answers to the etiquette questions, plus gift inspiration

how much to spend on gifts
Jayne Walsh
Jayne WalshLifestyle Content Writer
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Weddings are such fun to attend but they can be costly for guests. So, with wedding season in full swing and over 350,000 set to take place this year, money saving and budget expert Jenny McCormac has the best advice for you.

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Jenny McCormac from BrandRated has tips on the best etiquette of how much to spend on the happy couple and what to do if you can't afford to buy a gift at all. Keep reading for gift inspiration.

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What type of guest are you? Evening only, or full day guest?

wedding invitation blank© Photo: iStock

The clues are in the invitation

You should consider what type of invitation you have, as this can help you work out what your budget should reasonably be.

Many couples genuinely do not expect a wedding present, however, tradition still dictates that gifts are an important gesture and a way to thank the couple for hosting you.

Evening only invitation: £30 - £50

evening guest© Photo: iStock

Evening only guests have more freedom

Couples generally agree that it is not expected for evening reception only invitees to bring a gift, however, it may feel awkward to turn up empty-handed, especially if drinks are covered for the evening.

A budget of around £30 up to £50 is more than enough to thank the couple for inviting you to be part of their celebration.

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Full-day invitation: £110

full day invite© Photo: iStock

You can consider the location

Full-day invitees are usually close to the couple and tradition states that your gift should cover the cost of your attendance, like your meal and drinks. As the average cost per head for a wedding guest is up to £110, this is considered the amount that guests should aim for.

However, the beauty of this invite is that as a close friend of the couple, they may not expect you to spend this amount, especially if the wedding is in a location further away or requires an overnight stay.

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Immediate family member or member of the wedding party: £110 or less

family table© Photo: iStock

Perhaps you are seated at the top table

If you are a close family member or part of the wedding party, then you have some room here to be more open. You have most likely played a key role in the build-up to the wedding, whether that’s joining the hen or stag do or even helping to plan, meaning the couple will already appreciate the effort you have made.

A gift is less of an expectation and should be treated as more of a thoughtful token of appreciation.

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What’s the etiquette of splitting the cost of a group gift?

If the couple has registered for gifts, you should definitely consider splitting the costs with another wedding attendee. If, for example, it’s your colleague getting married and you’re going to the wedding with other co-workers, then ask if they would like to split the cost for a hot-ticket item.

What if I can’t afford a present at all?

handmade hobbu gift© Photo: iStock

Homemade gifts are always appreciated

The cost of simply attending a wedding is high, with recent data revealing that the total average cost can set you back over £470! And if you have to travel far for the wedding it could be a real tipping point.

Just remember that the couple would much prefer having you in person and celebrating, over a gift.

The main thing to remember is that you shouldn’t feel any pressure to spend any money that you simply can’t afford. If you know you really can’t afford to spend money, then think creatively... Keep reading for gift inspiration.

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What if the couple has asked for money and I can’t afford to give it to them?

wedding money gift© Photo: iStock

Modern couples often request money

A survey conducted back in 2019 showed that 84% of couples would prefer to receive money over physical gifts for their wedding. Most couples will not specify how much money they want (this is seen as incredibly rude to specify how much money they want!) so don’t feel bad if you can only afford to give a smaller amount than you would like.

If you feel comfortable enough, then honesty is the best policy in this case. Simply speak to the couple and explain the fact you can’t afford to give anything at this time. You could suggest an alternative, say have the couple round for dinner one night, or even an old-fashioned “I owe you” would do the trick.

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minimal budget gitf© Photo: iStock

Utilise your creativity

More often than not, a heartfelt present shouldn’t need to cost lots of money. If you are crafty, consider making the couple something personal to show you care.

If you are handy, then make a promise to do a job around their home or garden. Non-typical things like this may seem untraditional but would be appreciated.

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Gift inspiration for a couple you know well

If you know ins and outs of the couple, this puts you in a good position to be particularly thoughtful. Consider what they like to spend their time doing as a couple. If they enjoy holidays and travelling, then a hotel voucher or matching luggage sets would be thoughtful but also useful.

thoughtful gift© Photo: iStock

Having personal insight is always an advantage

If the couple has just moved into a new home, then consider their homeware taste. Are they an eccentric couple who love a vibrant print? Shop around and find the perfect homeware item that would go pride of place in their home.

wedding scrap book gift© Photo: iStock

Scrapbooking is a wonderful idea

For example, if you happen to know where the couple met then a memento of this would be greatly appreciated. Or, if you have been alongside the couple every step of the way in planning the wedding, then put together a scrapbook to document the build-up.

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