8 Wedding Gift Rules Every Wedding Guest Should Follow


So, you’ve been invited to the happy couple’s big day and you’re wondering, “Just what do I get them?” Selecting a suitable wedding gift can be even more difficult than choosing what you’re going to wear! Fear not, this simple guide to wedding gift etiquette will ensure the bride and groom enjoy your presents as well as your presence.

Rule 1: Spend Depending On the Situation

How much you spend on a wedding gift should be determined by your relationship to the newlyweds as well as what parts of the wedding you’re invited to.

$40 – $75

If you’re just attending the evening event and not the ceremony, or are a work colleague or distant relative of the betrothed, between $40 and $75 is a reasonable amount to spend. You’re probably not as close to the couple as other attendees so no one is expecting lavishly expensive gifts from you. That being said, this price range allows you to purchase something they’ll still appreciate.

$75 – $100

If you’re an all-day guest, you’re most likely closer to the happy couple than some of the other attendees, so spending between $75 and $100 on their present is a good price range to aim for. One rule suggests you should spend the same amount as the couple (or whoever has paid for the wedding) has spent on your individual meal, which can easily fall into this price bracket.

$100 – $125

If you’re a close friend of the bride or groom you’ll want to get something special for your friend’s big day. This could be one of the larger items on the couple’s gift list (if they have one), or a choice item you’ve taken time and effort to find that suits their personality, tastes or needs.

If a few of you want to collectively amalgamate funds to purchase a more expensive item, that’s totally okay too, just make sure to divide the costs fairly and let the newlyweds know the gift came from all of you.  

$125+

Members of the betrothed’s immediate family, as well as bridesmaids and groomsmen, are traditionally expected to provide the most expensive gifts. If the couple has spent out on you being there, covering your accommodation and providing you with wedding attire, spending a hundred pounds or more is a suitable way to reciprocate their generous gestures.

Ultimately these are rough guidelines rather than strict rules, and you should spend according to your budget and what you’re comfortable with.

Rule 2: Give Something Meaningful

Expense doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better present in the eyes of the couple; a well thought out gift can be a lot more valuable. Consider the unique personalities, hobbies, and interests of the bride and groom, and ask yourself what gift reflects their tastes?

Or, if it’s too difficult to find them a suitable physical gift, consider gifting them an experience, such as tickets to a comedy show, live music, or booking them a romantic weekend getaway to the seaside. Research has shown that experiences given as presents are associated with more positive feelings than material gifts because they’re so much more memorable.

Rule 3: Give Something on the Gift List

Wedding gift lists assembled by the couple are a goldmine of ideas and can take all the stress and hard work out of knowing what to buy them. It’s common for wedding gift lists to contain items that would be of practical use, like a toaster, kettle, or a set of measuring cups. These functional gifts are perfect for couples who’ve just moved in together or are about to, and sticking to the list ensures you don’t buy something they already have.

Rule 4: Give Cash

If the couple has expressly said they want cash, to contribute to their honeymoon fund, or they have asked for you to donate to a charity of their choice, it’s good wedding etiquette to respect their wishes. Plus, you can relax knowing your gift will be appreciated and not returned to the shop. If you’re wondering how much cash to give, ask yourself how much you’d spend on a gift and give that amount.

Rule 5: Transport Your Gift Accordingly

Make sure to transport items appropriately, for instance wrapping fragile items in a box with bubble wrap. The last thing you want is for the set of glass bowls you bought the bride and groom to get broken in transit.

There’s usually a table or box where the couple collects their gifts and cards – be sure to write your name on the gift tag and card so they know it’s from you. If you’ve bought a gift that’s too big to fit on the table, such as a piece of furniture, it might be better to have it delivered directly to the couple’s home.

Rule 6: Don’t Give Gifts If the Couple Doesn’t Want Them

If the newlyweds don’t want any gifts, it’s good manners to respect their wishes. For some couples, just having your presence at their wedding is the best gift they could ask for.  Instead, you can just give them a card containing your good wishes and offer for them to come and stay with you in future.

Rule 7: You Can Still Give A Gift Even if You’re Not Attending the Wedding

What do you do if you’re the fortunate recipient of one of the couple’s beautiful wedding invitations, but unfortunately, you can’t attend? First of all, the polite thing would be to RSVP as soon as you can. This way, the couple know in advance not to expect you and can potentially invite someone else in your place. And then, just because you’re not going to be there, doesn’t mean you can’t get them a wedding gift. In this instance, a thoughtful present could soften the blow of your absence, and you can have it sent to their address or give it to the newly married couple the next time you see them.

Rule 8: Gifts Are Optional

Different wedding etiquette experts have differing views on whether or not giving a gift should be mandatory, but at the end of the day, gifts, by definition, are given because the giver wants to do so. Gifts should be given with a positive intention, and never given begrudgingly.

If you don’t know the bride and groom very well or you’re experiencing financial challenges, or for whatever reason you just don’t want to give them a wedding gift, it’s up to you to make that decision. That being said, it’s the thought that counts, and an inexpensive yet thoughtful gift is sure to be greatly appreciated by the newlyweds.