As the resource for all things Wedding Registry, we get a lot of questions here at Zola from guests looking to pick out the perfect wedding present. The question we get most often is, “How much should I spend on a wedding gift?” The answer varies depending on a few factors, such as how well you know the couple and how many different wedding events you’re invited to. Some of you may even be wondering if you need to purchase a wedding gift at all. Read on for our complete guide on wedding gift etiquette.
Once upon a time, it was considered good etiquette to purchase a wedding gift with a price tag comparable to the cost per plate (i.e. your meal) at the reception. Although it’s outdated, this sneaky piece of advice still gets passed around by wedding attendees like a piece of wedding gospel.
Here’s why you should leave it behind:
These days, where cost-per-plate does not factor into your choice of wedding gift, exactly how much you should spend on a wedding gift depends on a variety of factors. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
If you’re still itching for dollar amount suggestions, follow these very loose guidelines for how much to spend on wedding gifts (but remember, a smaller gift from the heart is just as valuable!):
Yes! If you want to give the couple a big ticket item that you can’t afford on your own, it’s a great idea to go in on a group gift with other guests. Zola’s Group Gifting feature can make this process extremely easy. Two pieces of advice here:
Cash gifts are not only totally okay, they’re becoming more and more requested by modern couples who are getting married later in life and have already outfitted their homes. If the couple is using Zola, they may have even registered for cash funds to help them save for the honeymoon, a new home, a puppy, or even a lifetime supply of avocados (yes, it happened). However, there are a few best practices you should follow when contributing to a cash fund:
As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to purchase a gift on the couple’s wedding registry. That way you can ensure that they like (and need) the item. If all of their registry items have been purchased by the time to get around to buying a gift, you have a few options:
In short, yes. But there is some flexibility here depending on well you know the couple and your personal financial situation. If you’re close friends, it’s best to send a gift and a personalized note with warm wishes. Your mom’s boss’s daughter that you’ve never met? While it’s always polite to send a gift if you can, in less personal circumstances, you’re less on the hook.
Yes again. However, the travel and lodging costs that come with a destination wedding can put a big strain on your budget. It’s likely that the happy couple views your presence as a gift in itself, but if you want to get technical about it, purchasing a wedding gift is proper form even in the case of a destination wedding. If you’re shelling out quite a bit to actually make it to the wedding, then feel free to spend less than you typically would for a local celebration.
Not to sound like a broken record, but yes, you should purchase a gift for each event. We know—buying this many gifts can be tough. If you’ve are invited to the engagement party, the shower, and wedding, we suggest planning ahead and setting a budget for gifts in advance. To make things easier on your wallet, follow the 20-20-60 rule, which dictates that you spread out your spending like so:
Follow these rules to determine if you should physically bring a gift with you to any wedding-related festivities:
If you attend a shower, engagement party, or purchase a gift that isn’t on the registry, take the wrapped gift along with you to the event.
If you bought a gift on a registry or are giving cash/check, gifts should be mailed to the couple before the big day.
Zola Perk: Couples with a Zola registry have the option to ship your gift whenever is convenient for them, whether that’s before the wedding, after they return from the honeymoon, or months later.
Some will say that you have up to a year to purchase a wedding gift, but best practice is to always buy and send gifts before the wedding day or within 3 months of the nuptials. Any longer and you’re likely to forget. Plus, it’s more convenient for the couple to manage receiving gifts (and writing thank you notes) sooner rather than later.
Still have questions? Our registry advisors are just a call or email away. Happy gift giving, wedding guests!