Wedding Guest Etiquette: How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?


When it comes to wedding guest etiquette, some rules are obvious (don’t wear a white dress!) while others can be more of a grey area – such as figuring out how much to spend on a gift.

So, what exactly are the expectations around wedding gifts and wishing wells? And what about the etiquette surrounding plus ones, bridal party gifts and engagement party presents?

Read on as we unpack how much you should spend on a wedding gift below, and our tips for avoiding any major etiquette faux pas along the way.

Photo via Miranda Stokkel

Do You Need to Give a Wedding Gift?

As a wedding guest, there should never be any obligation or pressure to give a gift. At the end of the day, the couple has invited you because they value you as a loved one, not because they’re expecting a present.

With this being said, a gift – whether that’s a physical gift or a monetary donation – is a thoughtful way to acknowledge this exciting milestone and celebrate the happy couple! It’s also a nice gesture to show your appreciation for being invited to attend, and for the costs involved in your food and drinks for the day.

Photo via Crate and Barrel

So, How Much Should You Spend On a Wedding Gift?

Let’s talk first about traditional wedding gifts. You’ll want to check if the couple has created a gift registry, which is usually linked on their wedding website. From the couple’s point of view, it’s correct etiquette to include a range of gift options at different price points to accommodate for the financial circumstances of their guests. 

So, how much should you be expected to splash out for a gift registry item? We’d suggest choosing something that best reflects your budget and relationship with the couple. If you’re choosing a gift for a colleague or distant relative, it’s completely okay to choose an item on the lower end of the scale, which is usually between $50 – $75. But if it’s a close friend or family member, you may be happy to increase your budget and choose a gift between the $100 – $200+ price range. 

Photo via Taralynn Lawnton

How Much Money Should You Gift For a Wishing Well?

In today’s modern world, many couples prefer monetary donations in lieu of traditional wedding gifts. If this is the case, they’ll usually specify that a “wishing well” will be available at the reception.

So how much cash are you expected to put in the card? We’ve done the research, and the average wishing well donation sits roughly between $100 – $150 per person, but can range anywhere from $50 – $300+.

The “right” amount of cash will again depend on your relationship with the couple and your financial situation. You may feel comfortable giving $75 – $100 to a colleague or distant relative, but be happy to splash out $150 – $200 per person for a very good friend or close family member. 

Do You Need to Give Gifts for a Destination Wedding?

If you’re attending a destination wedding and forking out for flights, accommodation and other travel costs, it’s generally understood that your presence on the day is present enough. In fact, the couple will probably make this clear on their wedding invitations or wedding website. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from giving a gift if you’d still like to do so!

Do Plus Ones Need to Give a Gift?

If you’re attending the wedding as a plus one, there’s no expectation to give a gift. With this being said, it’s a nice idea to contribute to your partner’s present to thank the couple for hosting you.

Photo via Crate and Barrel

Do Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Need to Give a Gift?

It’s customary for wedding party members to give a gift to the happy couple – but tradition aside, we’d say it’s completely up to you. Wedding party expenses can quickly add up, so if you’ve already shelled out for your attire, hair and makeup and pre-wedding events, you may opt for a small gift like a bottle of wine or a handwritten card. But if the couple have covered most or all of your bridal party expenses, you may want to show your appreciation by giving a bigger gift in return.

Alternatively, opting for a group wedding gift from the bridesmaids and groomsmen is a great compromise. This means you can spend less individually, while still doing something special for your loved ones. Gift cards, travel vouchers and experiences are fantastic ideas for a group wedding gift!

Are Gifts Required For an Engagement Party?

Again, this one is really up to you. There are no expectations when it comes to giving gifts for an engagement party, but a congratulatory card is always a nice gesture.

Photo via Rachel McCauley

It’s The Thought That Counts

Remember, it’s not about how much money you spend on a wedding gift – it’s the thought that counts the most. Because at the end of the day? Sharing this special milestone with your loved ones is the greatest gift they could ask for!

Want more wedding guest etiquette? Check out our ultimate guide to wedding dress codes and their meanings.