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What to spend for a wedding gift

14 years ago

Here's a little background. We live in a small town in the South and we are financially comfortable for our inexpensive area. I don't work, no debt except mortgage, private schools for the kids, etc. My adorable nephew is getting married to a girl from the CT/NYC area and the wedding will be in Newport, RI.

My SIL and I were talking about what we were going to give our nephew. I told her the amount that my husband and I talked about and she said "Wow". Of course, then I thought we might be being too ostentatious. I love my SIL to death and we are always perfectly honest with each other. She is also financially comfortable so there is no jealousy or other issues.

Anyway, if you could tell me where YOU live and how much you might give, that would help me decide if we were being over the top.

After I get some responses. I'll let you know the amount I was thinking about. Thanks!

Comments (28)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Is it a formal wedding with all the trimmings ?

    I would give $500. Final offer.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Are you close to your nephew? I tend to think so since you referred to him as adorable. The aunt & uncle that I am closest to gave us $500 for our wedding.

    We're a couple in our 30's with 2 kids and 1 income and we tend to give $100 as a standard for people we don't really know well or socialize with(cousins you last saw when they were 12, etc,) $200 for people we actually know and $250 plus something we know they'll truly adore, not just like, off their registry for people we are close to. I would assume the dollar figure for the last 2 categories will go up as our children and friend's children reach marrying age.

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  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I don't know if this will be much help. We're in CT/RI area (not sure what that has to do with it?), we haven't had any weddings in the family for about 6-7 yrs, but back then we gave my cousins a gift off their registry (or split cost with my parents) for roughly $100 range (we like to give luggage as most people don't have a nice set to take on their honeymoon). These were cousins who are 10-15 yrs younger than me so I don't know them well, but we *were* invited to weddings. My DB, BIL, and SIL who were on 2nd marriages got $100 as well, but we didn't attend weddings (the only one we were even invited to was DB's), they live in rural South (NC and TX) and they seemed to appreciate it. When we get invitations to bridal showers for fiances of nephews DH has seen 4-5 times in 25 yrs, we ignore them. If we get an invitation for the wedding we'll send a card and $25 (we give $25 for graduations too).

    Now, my sister, not only was I her matron of honor and Ds the ringbearer, but we gave them a week in timeshare in Spain for their honeymoon. I forget what the exchange cost us (more than $100) but I hope it was memorable.

    Notg to get too much OT, I'd like to get opinions on Jack and Jill showers. My *much* younger cousin (18 yrs younger) and girl he's been living with (when he had his own house) are getting married in Oct, we're invited to wedding. He has double degrees in engineering but decided he'd rather be a nurse (as is she). So he's in school, she's working, they're both living with his parents and younger (still mid-20's) brother. They don't pay rent or groceries but I hear are planning a big wedding. Sold his house but at a loss (and his parents had taken a 2nd mortgage to help him buy it so I'm sure their $ is gone).

    Her parents are throwing a "J&J" shower at VFW, they're providing burgers and dogs, pasta salad and cake. Looking for people to bring chicken, other stuff. Cash bar (don't know if BYOB is allowed). For $25/pp! I offered up a coffee urn, I'll send it along but DH and I don't want to go, would rather spend the $50 on the wedding gift than basically just to attend a family BBQ (I told DH it's not really for the meal, "entertainment" -horseshoes and volleyball - it's a way to raise cash for the couple). What do you think?

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Oh, and my parents gave us $1000 for our wedding 20 yrs ago. Of course, things were tight back then, we just invited 23 other people out to dinner (reserved a room) after ceremony in church across the street from my parents' house, the $1000 about paid for that. No honeymoon - my ILs stayed with us in our apartment. DH wants me to go to Vegas on a business trip around our (20th) ann'y this Oct, but DD will just be starting kindergarten so I don't want to leave her for a week. We'll have to wait til the 25th to take a "honeymoon" (though don't get me wrong, we've had some nice vacations b4 the kids were born). Sorry to get so OT.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My rule of thumb is to AT LEAST cover the cost of our meals and entertainment at the reception...$100 or slightly more, give or take (DH and me).

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Good point about covering the plate costs; nowadays $100 a head is not unusual as a minimum.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    That's our rule of thumb too, but $100pp would be a pretty fancy wedding (in Newport, I can believe it, plus if you're close I'd do more). Maybe I'm just really out of touch with wedding costs these days - but then I never believed in spending $20-30K on a wedding when it could be saved to spend on a house (or a car!).

    But $25pp for a BBQ where the hosts are also looking for people to bring their own/donate food?

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I gave $1,000 at the wedding of each of my nephews - because I could give it without straining my budget. Now that my personal situation has changed, the next nephew and the niece will get $500.

    For anyone else, it would be in th $100 - 200 range.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I tend to give in the $100- $150 range now. I feel that the decision to have a lavish wedding or a simpler one is the choice of the couple and their parents, and I don't feel, as their guest, that my gift is required to reimburse their cost.

    But for couples that I am really close to, I do more.Sometimes much more. But I feel that is reflective of the special feeling I have towards them, and no one should feel they are in competition with me for my gift.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    We got married almost 11 years ago now and we got some extremely generous (tear inducing) gifts from people to whom we were very close. I did not view a single one as "ostentatious" but rather as a touching (and sometimes surprising) reflection of how much some people cared. Note, the opposite was not true and for people who gave less - we did not assume that they cared less. But when Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Catherine (both very sadly gone now) gave us $500 back in 1998 it made me cry that they loved me enough to give me THAT kind of a gift, especially considering how simply they lived.

    I hope I am making my point - if you adore your adorable nephew, give what you wish. I'm sure there is a good reason you adore him and he will appreciate it. It's not ostentatious if you don't make a big show of it - the only people who have a clue what anyone gave us for our wedding are our parents but that's because for a couple of years after the wedding they wanted to make sure they gave equivalent gifts to kids of friends and relatives.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Covering the cost of the plate seems pretty typical in the NYC area (where wedding gifts are more or less expected to be cash). The last wedding I went to, I gave $250 (covered 2 plates). Since receptions are pretty pricey in this part of the world, many couples have to trim the guest lists, I always volunteer to be trimmed (never seems to happen though).

    $500 is a nice gift.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think you should give whatever amount you feel is appropriate, and not worry.

    I could never tell you the names of people who gave us money at our wedding seven years ago or how much they gave. I do remember one friend's special simple gift.

    It was a handmade gift basket filled with a couple candles, crackers, cheese, wine, etc, and two beautiful glasses.

    After the reception it was two in the morning when we got to our hotel, we were very tired and didn't get a chance to eat much due to greeting and visiting everyone. We had a romantic carpet picnic before bed, it was great.

    Consider giving a personal gift instead or along with some money-

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. Now I don't know what to do. I had thought of giving $250, but now that seems a bit cheap! It will be a formal sit down dinner and our family of four will be attending.

    Here's the wedding/reception site. It's actually in Portsmouth, which I think is a bit less "tres chic" than Newport, but still quite beautiful.

    Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.glenmanorhouse.com/

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If it were my favorite nephew and four of us were going, I'd give five hundred. That just about covers the cost of each person. My niece is marrying in August and we'll give 300 for two people.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Deee, I have been reading this post with interest because DD is getting married in August. And I will tell you that we do NOT expect our guests to feel they have to reimburse for the cost of the wedding. We knew what we could afford, and we have planned a nice ceremony and reception within our spending limits. And our guests are just that, our GUESTS! Payment in lieu of services is not expected.

    That said, it is generally expected that guests give presents to the couple. And our hope is that none of our guests go into poverty or feel that they should spend more than what they are able to afford. They have been invited because their prescense (sp?) means a lot to both us and our daughter and future SIL, not because of what presents or money they might give.

    Give what you think you would like to give. It's a gift, not a hold-up.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    with the 4 of you going, you were not extravagant with your $250 ; it's a good thing you had the conversation with your SIL, lol....

    barb, covering the plate cost is sort of a guideline that some of us refer to ;
    a way to show our gratitude for having been hosted in a gracious way,
    People give it with pleasure when they can; if they can't , they give less.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    We live in New England/MA and for nieces and nephews which we plenty of we give $500.00. I do think that you should consider the costs pp, which would most likely be in the $200.00 (per person) range for a fairly formal affair. Then a bit more since it is your nephew.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    We're going to the wedding of my husband's favorite cousin in August (Hot minnesota, long trip with a 3 year old, pregnant.....isn't my presence enough LOL)

    Anyhoo, I didn't really think of a plate cost type of budget. (I've never heard of that) Instead I just wanted to give them something special from Alaska because he was one of our witnesses at our wedding (we were married in our home by a close friend and didn't have a large ceremony). We gave him an ivory carving as a gift back then which he loved, so I went to the native art store and bought the couple a fabulous piece of ivory art which I think I paid about $400 for.

    I look at a few things when determining what to spend. First if there's an expectation of gifts of a certain kind of dollar amount I tend to spend less...I hate that stuff (Barb your attitude is so refreshing! and so appropriate). Now a days these paid things are coming up again and again, and I just think they're tacky as heck.

    In general I think $100 is about am minimum for a wedding because I do like to buy something "special" (even if the couple is only registered at REI...I refuse to buy a paddle). A beautiful pewter platter, crystal, etc. So that's kind of my "just anyone" level.

    If it's someone we're close to or their child, I go to around $150 to $250 always a nice gift and I might also spend $100 on a shower item for that couple. And if it's someone we're particularly close to...well more, but at that point I make it a very personal item, verses picking a dollar amount (ie the carving). I didn't shop with a price in mind and didn't ask the cost (ie just show me the 300 to 500 dollar stuff), instead I like to shop from my heart for those people and give them things that I know they will treasure.

    I guess if I was not going to the wedding I'd have spent more, but given the couple asked people to keep gift giving simple, I thought it was about right.

    A fee to attend a bbq? ACK aj....I won't even go there! Ok I will...this crap kills me. Money's down and they either expect to make money from their guests to pay for the wedding, or they will overspend on the wedding. I personally could afford as nice a wedding as I would have wanted when I married DH and yet we had five guests, did the wedding in our home, and took our guests out to dinner at a lovely restaurant via limo. I suppose we might have spent a couple thousand, but I didn't tally it...probably more like one to fifteen hundred at most.

    Weddings are about love and sharing that with those you love, not about money. If they're going to break the budget, change your freaking budget!!!

    We kept ours simple because it was either, invite 500 or just do it at home quietly with a witness or two. I was heavily pregnant :) So that was perfect...we always thought we'd have a big reception later (and stil not spend thirty grand LOL) and I do regret we weren't able to do that so my mom could have been there as was the plan. But still...I'm glad we did what we did. I'd do it again tomorrow, except I'd fly mom up too. I'd never spend a blooming fortune on a wedding :) I'm ok with people doing that...but not charging for the priveledge.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think $250 is a nice amount - again, anyone who is comparing their gift amount to the per person cost is very tacky. When I planned my wedding, we did not figure that the guest gifts would cover the cost!

    In many cases the family covers the cost, so your gift is to the bride and groom. If they're paying, they should invite you and treat you to a night to celebrate their marriage, not invite you and plan on you reimbursing them for their costs.

    Plus, you are coming a long way and you will incur quite a bit of costs just in travel and clothing etc. I think the effort to come and spend the day with them is what is more important, and I would hope your nephew if he is as adorable as you say would agree!

    One last note, I think it also depends on how many nieces and nephews one has when coming up with a wedding gift amount. What you do for one, I would think you should do for all, so it could get quite costly if you have 10-15 nieces and nephews!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I would give $100.00 to $150.00 because I am the only one in my family. If I were bringing a guest I think $200.00 would be fitting, typically.

    But we are living in different times now and America is in a recession. People have to cut back on things, weddings would be the first thing to be cut. But you say, you are living comfortably so it is entirely up to you. Remember people can be living in Beverly Hills one day and with the economy the way it is they can be sleeping next to the newly weds in the next bed in the local shelter, I'm just saying.

    Sorry to be such a downer!

    ....Jane

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I also read this post with great interest.. not sure why LOL as I don't have children and am not all that keen on getting married myself (though not opposed to it in theory LOL).

    I agree with Barb that there is or should be no expectation for guests to cover the costs of their plate. At the same time I agree with mitchdesj that it is a good guideline for those of us who struggle with how much to spend. It makes sense if you can afford it-- but it surely isnt expected. As a twenty-something, I couldnt have afforded to cover my plate for the NYC and Phila "do it big" weddings

    I am very close with my nieces and nephews (7) and tend to be generous with gifts. I spend a little more on birthdays, graduations etc but I also spend a lot of timing coming up with gifts that support their interests, budding careers and education etc. All are too young for wedding gifts, but I expect that I will also be generous in helping them to establish and celebrate their new lives. My situation is somewhat unique though-- I don't have my own kids and I take an active role in helping to raise the nieces and nephews-- not because their parents don't or can't but more to balance their parents. I am somewhat of a matriarch in the family-- or more correctly the crazy and generous aunt. (My dad calls me auntie mame)

    OK, so that said, today at this point of my life, I would give $1000 as a wedding gift to a niece or nephew. For a nonfamily close friend it would be more in the 100-200 range... though I will be honest, unless I am giving "big money" I tend to give special selected gifts.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My department has had a bunch of girls getting married/going to weddings....talking about weddings...(what else do 20-something year-old gals do, LOL). For all the weddings I've heard of here in CT, $325 to $500 per couple is the usual. The first time I heard that amount, I gasped. The second/third/fourth time I just realized that I was WAY behind in the times.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I would give whatever amount you feel comfortable giving and I don't think where you live or where they live or where the wedding is should be a basis for the amount of the gift.

    For me, it's a joy to be able to give....and I'm certain whatever you and your husband have decided to give to your nephew is appropriate and will be appreciated.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Gosh ... I'm such a cheapskate. I don't think I ever gave anything to neices/nephews. For two of them, I performed the music at the ceremony, so I guess that's worth something. They didn't give me anything when I got married, either, but I didn't expect it, so no hard feelings. (I should explain that they all married in their 20s and I got married in my 40s, which is why we were all getting married around the same time.) We actually told people not to give us anything, but some did anyway. A few relatives gave us generous checks, which we really didn't need, but it was nice of them to do it. I think they were just really happy that we had found someone and didn't know how else to express it.

    Igloochic, we did something like what you did -- got married at the courthouse and treated the 20 or so guests to dinner at a restaurant afterward. A couple of days later, we had a big casual party at our house and cooked most of the food ourselves. It wasn't so much not wanting to spend money; more that neither of us had any interest in having a big do. As a musician, I've played at probably hundreds of weddings, which is enough to turn anyone off of the things.

    The whole business of expecting people to essentially "pay for" what they eat at a wedding dinner -- yuck!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I just used the dinner cost as a rule of thumb, of course there is much more involved in a big wedding and the couple (or their parents) *shouldn't* be looking at this as a way to get reimbursed or *make* money on the event. I just thought it was a nice gesture. I don't know what was expected back 15 yrs ago or so when my friends/coworkers were getting married, but I remember be floored by one (wealthy family) who gave the china place settings for the *bridal* shower, where the 2 of us who shared an office with the bride gave a place setting each for wedding gift, and small appliances (at least I did) for shower.

    That is, until my sister married a millionaire's son, and her MIL gave them an entire set of V&B china for shower, and Wedgwood (I mean the *entire* set) for wedding. The groom and his parents paid a good portion of the wedding costs, I don't think my parents could afford much (though probably more than the $1000 they gave us). When we got married, my ILs didn't give us a gift, they just flew up from TX so that was a big thing (at least a couple hundred each in air fare?). FIL died a month later and we went down - that wiped out our savings (and we had to put a new transmission on credit - everything was happening at once).

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I didn't read through all of these but did happen to catch Barb5's reply and I agree with what she said.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I would give whatever you think is a blessing to your nephew. It doesn't matter what anyone anywhere gives as this is about being generous to someone you love.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have never understood the idea of a gift to pay back the cost of the meal. Just because the couple chose a certain venue and wedding package doesn't mean I have to reimburse them for that choice.

    It also sets one up for failure - suppose one person in a family chooses a small wedding and a simple luncheon, and the other sibling chooses a huge blowout at the ritziest place in the state. Do you give the first sibling a gift of, say $50 for the cost of the simple event, and the other sibling $500 because they chose a pricier plan?

    You should give what you choose to give from the heart, and what you can afford. Prices around here (middle class suburb of Chicago) for an average dinner reception are in the $80 - $100 per plate range. At the most recent wedding we attended, the marriage of the son of a family friend, DH, our 2 DS's and myself were invited. While we are longtime friends, there is no way I would have been expected to give them $350 to 'cover' our meal. That would be an extravagant gift from someone outside the immediate family.