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How Much Do You Need to Spend on Wedding Gifts?

Posted by Jennifer Colwell on

Wedding season is upon us! With weddings comes engagement parties, bachelorette and bachelor parties, showers, rehearsal dinners, the big event itself, and the post wedding gift-opening party. Gifts are appropriate and expected every step of the way for the bride and groom, the hostesses of parties, and the parents in some cases. Gift-giving can get expensive, exhausting, and over the top, so here are a few suggestions to help navigate the sometimes touchy territory.

The significant factors

  1. How close are you to the couple and/or parents?
  2. Are you included in the wedding party (bridesmaid, host couple, etc.)?
  3. What’s the “temperature” of the wedding? 

I’ll get to my gift suggestions eventually, but I want to back into this whole situation with how much you need to spend in total, how many events/parties you need to attend, and can all your gifts potentially go together with a common theme.

What’s the “temperature” of the wedding? 

So, we’re actually going to start with #3. I don’t know how to describe this diplomatically, so I apologize in advance to anyone I may offend. Two beautiful people fall in love and come from different families and backgrounds. Each come to the table with a different vision of what their wedding day will look like. And then you add their parents and their vision of “the big day.” I can assure you that none of them are the same! There are so many politics to navigate around a wedding, as I’m sure many of you have experienced.

So, what do I mean by “temperature?” Who is paying for the wedding? How formal is it going to be? Suppose you look at the social media profiles of the mother of the bride and groom. Are they shopping at Target or Saks Fifth Avenue for their everyday attire? I don’t care if we’re talking about their workout wear or a formal gown - the principal is the same and usually gives a good indication of the temperature of the wedding. The higher the temp, the higher the price tag for your presents and presence. Let’s not mistake a backyard wedding or reception for any less than an event center - in many cases, it’s actually quite the opposite. An event hosted at someone’s home is almost always more expensive and always more work than an event at a rented location. 

Take your lead with this - the formality of the gift-giving and associated expense should follow. Don't show up empty-handed if you’re invited to anything related to the wedding.

Are you included in the wedding party (bridesmaid, host couple, etc.)?

#2 is dependent on whether you are directly involved in the wedding. We’ve all been through the seasons of being the bridesmaid or maid of honor for a LOT of weddings. It happens at a time in life where you may be broke paying off college loans but aren’t broke from having babies yet, so it evens itself out and somehow works... I think (lol.) You will bail yourself out of debt someday for those of you in this phase, but it’s a bit ridiculous how much you’ll spend during this chapter of your life on travel alone! I’m not going to tell you not to do it because I did. I’m just going to remind you that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and I’m one of the statistics who had to leave almost all of the wedding gifts behind. It sucks. Two and half years post-divorce, I still miss my Crate & Barrel champagne and wine glasses that my family gave me every day. So, yes, give generously and yet, taper. I promise you, at the end of the day, the bride will not scrutinize what you gave her; she’ll just remember you were there and what you did for her. By the way, if she does scrutinize what you gave her, you maybe should reconsider your close friends list.

How close are you to the couple and/or parents?

And at last, we’re to #1…how close are you to the couple and/or parents? This point seems a little more self-explanatory to me than the first two. The closer you are, the more likely you are to spend more to recognize the occasion…or are you? You’re likely to know more than anyone else what is happening with the wedding, which holds you to a different standard. That doesn’t necessarily have to do with money. Have you ever read the Five Love Languages? How we give and receive love is different for everyone. Often, the people who “have everything” perhaps do, but what you can give them is something that money can’t buy. Do they need you to lend an ear? Do they need a place for grandma to stay and be driven to and from the events? Do they need someone to help bring gifts to the house after the wedding? Or someone to help with the gift opening breakfast set-up that everyone thought sounded like a great idea until they popped the last bottle of champagne the night before?

Now that we’ve established where you fall, what do you buy?

Make it something they will use and appreciate.

Please don't buy it without a gift receipt unless you are 100% certain that the couple will enjoy a $500 crystal vase. And china that sits in the cupboard and gets dusty? You guessed it, it’s a hard no unless they registered for it.

Make it personal to you.

What did you get for your own wedding that you used the most? Give the new couple something similar and share your story about why you love it and how you hope they will enjoy it in the same way.

Make it personal to them.

What does the new couple enjoy doing together? Do they enjoy cooking? Maybe share your favorite recipe(s) and your favorite pan or serving platter that you would use for that dish. Do they love Mexican food? Maybe do a great chips & dip set and include your favorite salsa recipe or, better yet, a jarred version of it with a bag of chips! Or maybe it’s a favorite cocktail - write down the recipe for them, including the ingredients and equipment (shaker, grater, etc.) they need to make it. Your gift will rank in the top 5!

Make it an experience.

Golf lessons? Gym membership? Gift cards for local bed & breakfast. A drink recipe and ingredients (see #3).

Make it practical.

Let’s start with dishwasher safe! There used to be a bunch of expensive serving platters that all needed to be hand washed. That’s fine, except no one washes their dishes by hand anymore. At least that’s my goal! Throw it in the oven, freezer, and dishwasher, and it’s just perfect! 

Make it personal for their new home.

Consider an Entry Envy sign with their new last name and wedding date or year. A custom exterior sign is only $109, but if you want to spend more you can add a gift card for the number of monthly refill décor kits ($29 per month).

Make it timeless.

You want the newlyweds to have something that lasts, is functional, and that they will remember for years to come.

P.S. Entry Envy custom home signs welcome guests and help delivery drivers validate they are at the correct house. There are so many styles available! If you haven't ordered yours yet, please SHOP HERE to design your unique sign. Monthly home decor subscription boxes make it easy and convenient to keep your sign in style. You'll never have to think about how to update your front porch for the next season or holiday again!

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Entertaining Tips | Curb Appeal Ideas | Women Empowerment by Jennifer Lea

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