Wedding Gift Etiquette: How Much to Spend & When to Buy a Gift

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Welcome back to another Wedding Guest Wednesday Post! You can check out last week’s post on How to Save Money as a Wedding Guest here

This week’s post is on something I get asked about all the time by my friends as someone who has attended a lot of weddings recently. I wanted to write a post about gifting etiquette. It can be hard to navigate a couple’s wedding registry when you look at all the places to shop, all the options and then try to figure out what to spend.  

I will say the biggest reason I am writing this post is because these are all questions I’ve asked myself and couldn’t find the answers to. I am hoping this post gives you a solid baseline to address spending, gifting and other guest etiquette. 

How Much to Spend

Pierce and I (my boyfriend) have developed a formula of sorts that categorizes how much to spend as a wedding guest for a variety of scenarios. By no means is this formula perfect or a driven standard on what you need to base your wedding gift spending on. Everyone’s budget is going to look a little different so instead of giving you an exact dollar amount, I am going to give you a range and explain my reasoning a little bit.

Disclaimer: I am writing this from the perspective of someone who is in their 20’s, attending lots of frequent weddings, and always #OnABudget. My perspective will likely change as I get older. 


If you are a sibling of the bride or groom I would consider spending around this range given the close proximity to family. Someone who either you or your significant other are related to it is reasonable to put them at the top of your spending budget. 


This is where I would consider spending the most on a couple if you and your significant other are close enough to both be in the wedding. We have two instances where we are both in a couples wedding and they are some of our closest friends. So we have put them at the top of our budget given the closeness in our friendships. 


This same scenario goes if just your significant other is in the wedding. I always take into account a few things in regards to how much I’ve spent as a wedding party guest. If I am attending a local wedding, I can afford to spend more. If I attended an expensive bachelorette, I also factor in that. However, if I am in the wedding party, I am close enough to the friend where I want to put forth a good gift. 


If I am attending the wedding as a guest, I typically put forth around this range depending on my closeness to the couple. I think this range is still appropriate if you are attending as a couple and buying a gift together. 

When to Buy a Gift 

As far as the timeline goes for buying a gift, I’ll buy a gift for the wedding shower the week of and then I’ll try to buy a wedding gift a little closer to the wedding. It really depends on if I have my eye on something on the registry that is perfect for the couple.

I’ll start looking at wedding registries about 3-5 months before the couples big day so I can make sure I get the best options for my budget and given the amount of showers we are attending. You can typically find a link to the couples registry by just googling their names or through their website located on the save the date. 

If you are close to the couple, you might be invited to frequent showers, parties, and pre-big day celebrations for the couple. You might wonder, do I need to bring a gift to all of these? I’m answering your questions on that! 


It is very atypical to buy a gift for the couple for their engagement party for a few reasons. They haven’t registered yet as they just got engaged so there is no formal registry. You are also about to spend more money on their wedding as a guest so there is no formal need to buy a gift at this stage. 

However, if you are close to the couple, a card, a bottle of champagne or I’ve even done a name bracelet for the bride. These are all appropriate gifts although not necessary. When in doubt, bring a card. 


For couples showers/bridal showers I’ll look at how many the couple is having. Are they doing a bridal shower and a couples shower? Multiple couples showers? I’ll pick one and buy a gift for that or I’ll buy two smaller gifts I can give around the time of each. I’ll always contribute shower gifts into my overall spending costs (outlined above). I typically ship the gift directly to the couples house on their registry vs bringing a wrapped gift to the shower. 

Ok, I think this covers it. The one thing I will say about giving wedding gifts is something I mentioned in the last post and will likely mention in all the wedding guest series blog posts. Never spend more than you can afford. Nothing is worth breaking your budget over. Gifts are a huge part of weddings but a couple is never going to want you to spend more than you are capable of. Everyone’s budget is always going to look different. I am giving this solely as a guide to what we have based our spending off of. Please take your own financial situation into account and know what you are comfortable with. 



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