Cash Wedding Gift Calculator – How Much To Give

a person inputting calculations for wedding gifts

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Are you struggling to decide on how much cash to give as a wedding gift? We’ve got you covered.

The below calculator considers four key factors:

  1. Your level of income.
  2. Your relationship to the bride and groom.
  3. Whether you are attending or not.
  4. Your number of plus one’s/family members in your party.

Average cash wedding gifts

If you want to skip the calculating and need a ballpark figure, here are some averages to consider:

Low income / Individual

If you’re young, on a low income, or without a plus-one with whom you can split the cost, here’s the range:

  • Casual friends/coworkers: $0-25
  • Mid-tier friends & distant family: $25-50
  • Close friends & extended family: $50-75
  • Best friends & siblings: $75-100

Average income / couple

The average person or couple may want to consider gifts in the following range:

  • Casual friends/coworkers: $50-100
  • Mid-tier friends & distant family: $100-150
  • Close friends & extended family: $150-250
  • Best friends & siblings: $250-500

High income

There’s no obligation to give more because you have more. But if you’re feeling generous, and perhaps feel obliged, here are the ranges:

  • Casual friends/coworkers: $200-300
  • Mid-tier friends & distant family: $300-500
  • Close friends & extended family: $500-1000
  • Best friends & siblings: $1000+

Tax implications of wedding gifts

Luckily, the IRS considers wedding gifts to be tax-free.

However, if the gift is over $18,000 (or $36,000 for a couple), it may be subject to gift tax. The person giving the gift is responsible for the tax in this situation.

Cash gift considerations

Weddings are expensive.

Close to half of Americans go into debt to tie the knot (Lending Tree, 2023).

That’s why a cash wedding gift is always best, providing the married-to-be do not have a wedding gift registry listing their preferred gifts.

Cash helps the happy couple get the best start to the rest of their lives – hopefully with as little debt as possible.

Cash is usually preferable to a check, just as a matter of convenience. However, if it is a particularly large amount that you do not wish to withdraw (and for it to potentially ‘go missing’) a check is fine.

Connection is key

What you can afford to give is an important consideration, there’s no doubt about it.

Don’t overextend yourself if you simply cannot afford it. If they are truly your friend or family member, they should understand.

But what really determines the amount you should aim to give is your connection to the bride, groom, or both.

For someone close to you, who you value dearly, and maybe has even supported you in your life, you may want to give a bigger gift. For someone you’ve grown apart from, it may be much less.

This is completely natural.

There is no set amount to give for each wedding. It is somewhat personal to you and the couple.

If you’re sure you want to give a bigger gift, it may require saving up (and starting early). More advice on this further below.

Paying your way

Sometimes it’s helpful to think of your gift as paying for your part of the wedding. Think about how much the food you are eating cost, the staff that are serving you cost, the placenames with your name engraved cost, and so on.

How much is it costing for the bride and groom to add you to their special day?

Whilst you cannot control how much they choose to pay (and you are not obliged to gift more because they spent more) it’s a useful mental exercise if you’re concerned that you’re not gifting enough.

Other things to consider

The calculator is a great guide, but don’t feel beholden to that number. There may be other factors that can vastly influence your number:

  • Did you travel abroad for the wedding, or in some manner go far out of your way (to great expense)? This might reduce the amount of cash the bride and groom are expecting.
  • Did the bride and groom support you financially during a difficult time? Have they been there for you in someway and you’ve never had a chance to properly repay them? Have they been stubborn at accepting your thanks? A wedding is a great opportunity to go out of your way in thanking them – they practically cannot refuse!
  • Are you currently going through financially difficult times, through job loss or medical expenses, for example? Are the couple aware of your plight? In these cases, the couple may even be hoping that you don’t give them a big gift. A heartfelt card may be good enough.

How to save money on a wedding gift

Above, we mentioned that weddings are expensive. That’s not just for the bride and groom – it often is for the attendees too.

You may need to travel far to get to the wedding, you may need a hotel, a new outfit, and to buy drinks while there. That’s on top of giving the bride and groom a gift.

Here are some ways you can plan for & mitigate the cost.

Spread out the cost

Usually, you get plenty of notice for an upcoming wedding.

Consider getting accommodation booked as soon as possible (as this is possible to sell out and is usually cheaper in advance). Look at getting your outfits closer to the date (as you may shrink or expand, unfortunately!).

Planning ahead like this is clearly sensible from a pragmatic standpoint, but it has the added benefit of allowing you to spread the cost over a few months, or even years.

Start saving early

These events often seem far away, but they come around fast. As we say above, weddings are deceptively expensive for you, the attendee, as well as the happy couple.

Create a separate pot of money to budget for the wedding as soon as you can. You’ll be thankful that you did!

Check the registry early

If the bride and groom do have a gift registry, check it early to see if there are any ‘more affordable’ gifts you can snap up.

Check the average value of these gifts. It might give you an indication of how much they are expecting their guests to give, so that you can give the equivalent in cash.

Check the invite for guidance

Sometimes, the bride-and-groom-to-be will specify whether they are expecting physical gifts, cash gifts, or no gift at all.

If they request no gift, they are not doing this to be polite. You are perfectly fine to not give any gift at all.

You of course still can if you choose to, but there is absolutely no obligation.

Summary: Don’t overthink it

Most couples are happy that you are simply attending their wedding. Your presence is a present alone.

Give whatever feels right.

In all honesty, there will be so many cash gifts that they may have a hard time keeping track of who gave what. They’re more likely to remember a heartfelt message in a card.

Enjoy their big day, and don’t drink too much (Or do, I’m not your Dad)!

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