Certified financial planner Ted Jenkin is the Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc. and occasionally guest blogs for Atlanta Bargain Hunter.
Your college roommate or long-time childhood friend invites you to their wedding. Now you have to spend money to get an airline ticket, a hotel room, and possibly buy a new dress or suit for the wedding. It dawns on you — you’ve also got to figure out how much is the right amount to give for a wedding gift.
You are no Miss Manners, but you don’t want to walk away like some cheapskate the couple laughs at that evening when they open up their gifts.
Let’s talk first about if you can’t attend the wedding. By no means should you consider a wedding invitation a personal invoice for you to spend money. If you don’t attend the wedding and it’s someone close to you, sending a small present should suffice. But don’t feel like the invitation is a measure of extortion for you to turn your wallet upside down if you don’t attend.
I’ve always stuck to a very simple rule that you should try to cover your plate. Sometimes, we don’t know if our plate cost $50 or $250, but use your best judgment based upon the location and what you know about the size of the wedding.
Stay within your budget, but also be realistic. I’ve been married for almost 18 years, and I can still remember the three ridiculously bad gifts I received at my wedding.
Also, consider your total financial investment in attending the wedding. If it is a destination wedding or your travel costs are high, factor this in to your overall gift, especially if it is a close friend who wants to see you. Destination wedding couples generally don’t want gifts, as they know how expensive it is to make it to the wedding.
Many etiquette sites say the the cost of the gift does not equal the price of admission into the party, and that the gift should be thought of as a gesture that commemorates and helps the couple start a new life together.
At the end of day, come up with a rule that makes sense to you so you don’t have to spend a lot of time internally debating who you are “supposed to do.” I keep it simple by covering my plate — even if I go for seconds at the buffet.