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.
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.