A loyal reader recently asked:
“What is the etiquette for how much to spend on a wedding gift? Should it be influenced by how much the couple is spending on the wedding, how well you know the couple, and/or whether or not you attend?”
In the past, if you received a wedding invitation, it was obligatory to send a wedding gift whether you attended the wedding or not. This is still a good rule to follow today especially if you are good friends or close to the wedding couple. However, in today’s society, if you have moved away and don’t stay in touch with the wedding couple, you may choose not to send a gift. In this circumstance, the invitation was most likely sent as a courteous announcement of the wedding in which case a wedding announcement should have been sent rather than an invitation.
A wedding gift is given to celebrate and acknowledge the union of two people you care about. The gift should never be more than you can afford. It is a myth the gift should be as much as the bride and groom spent on each guest to attend the wedding. I’ve said this many times and will say it again, a gift should never be evaluated by it’s monetary value. If you are struggling to make ends meet, I’m sure the wedding couple would not want you to spend your last cent on their gift. However, if you are a very successful professional, you may look stingy if you give a chintzy gift. Give what you can afford. This rule holds true whether you attend the wedding or not.
Be creative with your gift giving. Some of my most cherished gifts were handmade. As many times as I have moved, I always hang a shadowbox containing my wedding invitation decorated with curled paper flowers a co-worker made for me. I think of her every time I walk by the shadowbox. Another guest made a beautiful wreath that is also displayed where I can see it everyday after 22 years of marriage. On cool evenings, I snuggle under an afghan a now deceased aunt made for me. These gifts were all given with love from the heart.
Let’s not get caught up in the monetary value of wedding gifts. Try to give something that warms the heart and will be remembered as time passes.