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Let's be real, no one wants to be that guest that looks like a total cheapskate when it comes to the wedding gift... but you also don't want to blow your budget either. So what's a wedding guest to do? Well, the good news is you've got a few options. Whether you'd like to play it safe and stick to tradition or simply throw down the average amount, here are five tips that will help you figure it out in no time.
1. If you're the traditional type, base it off the estimated dinner cost.
As a planner and being around weddings his entire life, Anthony Navarro of Liven It Up Events was always taught to think of a gift amount in terms of how much the dinner would cost. "For instance, if you think the couple getting married is spending an average of $100-$150 per person at their wedding, your gift amount should equal that amount. Remember, that is a per person price." So if you're attending with a date or plus one, your gift should cover their cost as well.
2. Factor in how much you're spending total to attend the wedding.
If the happy couple has chosen to tie the knot away from home, then the game changes just a little and it's not entirely necessary to dish out what you normally would on a gift, notes Jason Reid, Co-Founder and CEO of Giftagram, a mobile app that eliminates the hassle of gift giving. "You're likely paying for accommodations and even flights, so in that kind of situation it's fair to assume the bride and groom are conscious of how much everyone is already spending."
3. Consider your closeness to the couple or just do as other couples do.
A wedding guest should always give what they feel best celebrates the occasion, taking into account their budget as well as their closeness with the couple, tells wedding etiquette expert Sara Margulis, co-founder of the wedding registry website Honeyfund. Need some more specific guidance? According to her, most Honeyfund givers spend anywhere between $80-$250, with the average gift amount coming in at around $120. For friends and extended family using the standard of $100 per guest works well, confirms Ani Keshishian, Creative Director of Anoush Banquet Halls & Catering and L.A. Banquets. "Thus, a couple should purchase a gift worth $200 or gift a monetary gift of $200."
4. Remember, volunteering your time and efforts is a gift itself.
Gifts come in all different shapes and sizes — some might not even be thought of as such, but are really the greatest gifts of all: your time! As Courtney Jespersen, retail expert at NerdWallet, points out, if you'll be helping the couple in other ways, such as volunteering as a seating usher or spending the weekends prior to the wedding helping make handmade centerpieces, a gift isn't always necessary. Some family and friends might also choose to sponsor events, such as a goodbye brunch, which is another great gift in lieu of a traditional wedding present, says Ella Messerli, founding partner of MyWeddingPrice.com.
5. Only spend what you can realistically afford.
When it comes to buying a gift for the newlyweds, don't let wedding etiquette get in the way of your financial situation no matter what, warns Jespersen. "Determine the cost of your gift based on what you're comfortably able to afford rather than what tradition tells you to do. There's no need to go into debt for weddings, regardless of if you're the one hosting or attending."