I just got back from a weekend in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was faced with the usual travel decision about car parking. From official airport lots to private lots, you can pay a lot or a little to park at the airport.
If you are like me, you know a lot of people getting married. It seems that about every month or two, a friend calls me to tell me the good news. Of course, my first reaction whenever a buddy gets engaged is to sing the song ‘Another One Bites the Dust.'
After I am done mourning their loss, I get to work on the parts that impact me. I figure out if I can go, I check out my vacation time at work, I research flights and hotels, I make sure my wardrobe works for the wedding, which is easy because I own a tux and four suits, and make sure everything is lined up for the trip.
What always turns out to be an after thought, though, is the gift. Going to a wedding is not cheap. Flight, hotel, and rental car can easily approach $500 depending on the destination. Once you factor in meals, bar visits with friends, airport parking, and other incidental costs, $500 becomes conservative. If you are in your 20s or 30s, you might have several of these per year. Ouch!
But being there for a friend is a wonderful thing to do. Being a part of a wedding (I have been an usher a lot of times amongst other jobs) is fun and an honor. Getting there a day or two early to get your good friend incredibly drunk and pay for a few lap dances is even better.
But then, on top of all of that, you have to buy them a present. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind buying a wedding present or gift card for a friend. But knowing how much to spend and what to get can be tough. I recently read that the average wedding gift costs $70.
Many experts have rules on how you should decide what to spend on a wedding gift, but I think you have to figure out your own way to decide what you can afford and what is appropriate. Here are the guidelines I use:
- For a good friend from high school or college, I usually spend about $50-$60.
- For a lifelong friend or someone I consider to be a very close friend, I usually spend about $75.
- For a “dead hooker in a trunk friend” (see below for explanation), I spend about $100.
- If I am bringing a girlfriend/date to the wedding, I add on about $25.
- This has increased over time as my income has increased. When I was right out of school, I usually spend about $50 no matter was as that is what I could afford.
What are your guidelines? How do you decide what to spend? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
*A dead hooker in a trunk friend is someone you could call if you somehow end up in a situation where you have a dead hooker in your trunk. This friend would help you out of the situation rather than just calling the cops. I have never had the situation arise, but I know exactly who I could call.
Image from Shelley Panzarella.