Don’t get pressured into overspending on wedding gifts. The wedding industry wants you to think you have to spend more because that means there’s more for them. I find Myth #1 particularly offensive!
- MYTH: You have to spend as much as it costs/person ($150-$300). NO! Any amount that works for your budget is fine.
- MYTH: You have give cash/check. Nope, even handmade gifts are acceptable if the couple will like them.
- MYTH: “Everyone in [whatever town] spends at least $xxx”. Nope. it’s up to you.
- MYTH: You still have to send a gift even if you don’t attend. Nope. Only if you want to and are CLOSE to the couple.
There are no specific rules. Remeber, these are your friends and relatives. They should know your situation and respect it. Your financial well-being is a higher priority than someone else’s wedding and, more importantly, it is a higher priority than your image in the eyes of other guests.
As a financial advisor, here are my guidelines, and they line up pretty well with Emily Post:
- Figure out what you need to spend on the overall event without gifts (travel, lodging, clothing, etc.)
- Figure out what you have in your monthly spending (do not take gift giving money out of savings), for the wedding overall. You may have to pass up a dinner or two out with friends that month.
- Subtract #1 from #2. That’s what’s left for a gift. If the number is low or negative, consider not going. Just send a small gift.
- Skip the shower if you cannot afford the travel and a gift. You are not obligated to send a shower gift if you don’t attend.
- Go simple on shower gifts if you feel you must send one. Grand and expensive shower gifts are a new trend thrust upon us by – wait for it – the wedding industry. People used to give embroidered hankies at bridal showers. Honestly.
- Buy off the register! Buy off the register! Buy off the register! You know they will like it and you can politely spend less by targeting smaller gifts.
- Don’t succumb to pressure to give cash. Look for a pooled financial registry (honeymoon fund, etc.) where your smaller gift is in a pool with a lot of other people.
- If you cannot afford to spend money on the travel/lodging/gift, don’t go. It is okay to prioritize your financial well-being over someone else’s wedding. Send a small gift with your regrets and best wishes.
- There is NO cash requirement. If you decide to send cash, send whatever you can do reasonably and do not worry about what others are sending.
Many financial woes begin with people feeling like they need to keep up a certain image. The sooner you drop your need to keep up an image the freer, more fearless and financially stable you will be. You can start with your wedding gifts!