Wedding gifts: What’s the right amount to give?

Let’s start with a non-judgmental question:

How much do people give?

SurveyMonkey conducted a survey to answer that question.

The answer – reported by FiveThrytEight — depended on 3 factors:

(1) Whether you’re a high-roller or just skating by …

(2) Your relationship to the couple

(3) Whether you drag along a plus-one guest or not.

For example: On average, high-rollers who don’t bring a guest give immediate family members $500, extended family and close friends $200, and “just” friends $100.

The median gift for folks who don’t bring a guest is $100 for immediately family and $50 for everybody else.



How much do those antes go up if folks bring a guest?


I was expecting a simple rule: double the 1-person amount.

Way high.

A solid majority of respondents — 67% — said that plus-ones should ride free … that you should spend the same amount on a gift whether you come by yourself or drag a guest.

A more generous 15% said that you should tack on around 25% if you bring a guest.

The most generous 12% of people said that a plus-one should add about 50% over a solo gift.

So taking the latter 50% number, to hang at the median, you should slip $100 into the immediate family member’s envelop if you come alone … and $150 if bring a guest.

Cut those amounts if neither the bride nor the groom are immediate family members.


Even though I’m a cheapskate, I think those giving rules are pretty chintzy if there’s a reception with dinner, drinks & dancing.

My basic rule: At least try to cover the cost of the food & drinks.

If there’s a reception, I assume they’re shelling out about $100 to $150 per head for food, drinks and the venue.

So, I think a reception-attending couple should throw at least $200 to $300 into the pot.

Of course, that’s subject to means- testing.

A 20-something couple that is just starting out gets more; 40-somethings marrying for the 3rd time get a haircut.


One other benchmark:

When you (or your kids) get married, keep a record of who gave and how much.

Then, when you attend their wedding (or their kids wedding), just look up the number and reciprocate.

It’s as easy as that.



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One Response to “Wedding gifts: What’s the right amount to give?”

  1. Dave Miers Says:

    This was a big topic in the British news a few months ago.. when some newlyweds sent an email to a guest requesting they increase the size of their gift!

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