It seems like everyone I know has recently gotten married or is currently engaged. I suppose it’s the age bracket I’m in, where everyone is settling down, committing, and thinking of the future. Eric recently walked down the aisle as did our good friend Kathleen. Weddings can be a fun and expensive affair for the couple, but it can also be pricey for those attending the wedding.
There are several things to consider, such as the cost of attendance (for example, do you need to fly there? Stay in a hotel?), wardrobe, as well as a wedding gift.
Eric’s friend, Andrew Newman recently posed an important question that many wedding guests are left pondering:
“What's the rule these days for how much a groomsman is supposed to spend on a wedding gift for the couple?”
Good question! First off, there is some outdated advice out there stating that your gift amount should be a percentage of the price per plate. Instead of basing it on that, think of your budget and your relationship to the bride or groom. If you are unemployed or deep in debt, then give what you can, but your greatest gift is actually being there to support your friends. However, the general consensus is that $50 is a fair minimum for a wedding gift.
For others who have the means, look at these various pricing tiers presented by The Knot:
- Co-worker and/or a distant family friend or relative: $50-$75
- Relative or friend: $75-$100
- Close relative or close friend: $100-$150
As a groomsman, or anyone in the wedding party, I’d venture to say that would go under the ‘very close friend’ category, which would fall under the $100 – $150 range. As just a friend attending, or co-worker, you could spend between $50-$100.
But if you are flying across the country or even the world to attend the wedding, it’s understandable if it’s a bit less. If you are bringing a guest, it’s customary to give a little extra. In addition, if you are unable to attend the wedding it’s customary to send your regards along with a gift. Once again, these price points for wedding gifts should be primarily focused on your relationship to the couple.
But what should you actually get?
First, stick with the tried and true wedding registry. Many couples have a registry, which makes it a bit easier to choose what gift to buy. If you get something from the list, it’s hard to go wrong!
[Note from Eric: This is 100% true. We were totally happy with every gift of money or from the registry. Other gifts were very hit-and miss.]
Most wedding experts don’t recommend going DIY or crafty on this occasion — save that for Christmas or a birthday. In regards to gift ideas, think about things that would help the couple start their new life together, enjoy their new life together, or just have fun together.
Nice kitchenware, or fancy kitchen tools are always a great option. You could also give a nice warm blanket, or silky sheets. If you know their beverage preferences, consider indulging them in some nice accessories like a Keurig or a cocktail tray, recipe book, and martini glasses. If you know they are music, art, or theater lovers, consider buying them a membership to their favorite museum or season tickets to the orchestra or the local theater.
Wedding gifts should be practical but also fun — you want to create an experience for them! Think of things that the couple is likely not to buy for themselves, but something that would be useful and provide value and an element of luxury in their lives.
You want your gift to be memorable and an extension of your friendship, so incorporate some of their interests and passion as well as some of your personality into the gift. In regards to pricing, base it on your relationship. How much you spend varies from each level of acquaintance, whether you are a colleague, friend, or in the wedding party. Remember, the general rule is nothing less than $50, with a reasonable maximum being $150-$200.
How much have you spent on wedding gifts in the past?
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