What are folks shelling out for wedding gifts these days? It depends on how well you know the bride and groom, of course, but guidelines are always helpful when it comes to such potentially sticky social dilemmas as wedding guest etiquette.
Recent survey findings from RetailMeNot show that this season's wedding guests plan to spend $195 on a sibling's wedding gift, $159 on a best friend, $63 on a coworker and $45 on an acquaintance. Yet, other sources say somewhere in the ballpark of $75-100 for a coworker, and $100-125 for a friend is appropriate.
To see how these numbers held up from a decorum standpoint, we ran them by etiquette expert Elaine Swann, who said that RetailMeNot's estimates are more accurate, given the average price of items in most registries.
Speaking of the wedding registry, don't give an off-registry gift, says Swann, unless it's cash or a gift card to the store where the couple registered or to a restaurant or retailer that you know without a doubt they will use.
Of course, some guests cringe at the registry's utilitarian nature: really, a toaster oven? A salad spinner hardly seems meaningful enough for a birthday, nevermind one of the biggest events of one's life. "The items may seem meaningless, but they were handpicked by the bride and groom," says Swann. "Take your opinion out of it and accept their opinion as truth."
Another common misconception is that anything on the couple's registry is going to be outrageously expensive. "When guests actually look at the registry, oftentimes, they'll find several smaller items that can add up to their budget amount," says Swann. (Another option? Go in as a group to purchase one of the larger ticket items.)
While you're at it, Swann recommends taking advantage of any free shipping offers, and definitely have the present delivered directly to the happy couple's home so that they won't have to designate someone in the bridal party to pack it up on the big day.
What about bridesmaids and groomsmen who've already shelled out big bucks for their role in the festivities? Or guests of a destination wedding, for that matter? "Going into debt for someone's wedding is not wise," says Swann. "If you can't afford a gift, you should still show your love and concern and wish them well, and you can do so in writing. Everyone can afford a card."
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