(Closed) How much should we give as a gift?

posted 8 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
7899 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort

Depending on your income, I’d give between $100 and $200.

Post # 4
47254 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Give what you can afford.

Post # 5
1692 posts
Bumble bee

The etiquette for giving cash is very highly dependent on your ethnicity, and the ethnicity of the bride.

According to mainstream standard etiquette, cash is given under only two circumstances. The first of those circomstances is when a close wealthy relative makes a significant settlement on one or both of the newlyweds. In the latter case, the amount should be enough that, once invested, the income is enough to cover rent and necessities for a modest home. I am guessing this is NOT your circumstance.

The second circumstance under which mainstream etiquette allows a cash gift, is when an employer, house-holder, or distant much-wealthier relative gives a gift to a very-junior employee, servant, or dependent relative. A gift of cash reflects the lack of intimacy in the relationship. If you were intimate with the recipient, you would be expected to spend time and emotional effort selecting an appropriate gift, but that is not something you owe to a distant dependent. It also reflects the difference in income between giver and recipient: since a painless “tip” from the better-off giver equates to valuable capital for the more indigent recipient. The amount given in this circumstance should be on the order of one day’s pay (or one “appointment”) at the recipient’s pay-scale. This is similar to what you probably give as an annual gift at Christmas time to your cleaning lady, newspaper boy, or hairdresser.

In Asian cultures that practice “red envelopes” or equivalent, everyone is expected to give money, but it is still scaled according to the relative difference in income between giver and recipient, with wealthy people expected to give more and less-wealthy people giving less. The absolute amount varies by community, so it’s good to talk to other relatives and friends of the bride and find out what they are giving, and adjust your gift according to your status in that community. If no-one else will share that information with you, then give about half a day’s pay if your income is the same, and scale up or down accordingly for income difference.

In central European folk-cultures where wedding-money is treated as a kind of common-wealth lending pool, the expectation is that your gift will reflect the gifts that have recently been given by the newlyweds’ family members to members of your family. Talk with your relatives to find out what the going rate is in your community.

In eastern European folk-cultures where “presentation” and money-dances of different sorts are practiced, money is given without anyone keeping track: pinned to the bride’s dress or tossed on the dancefloor or poured into a basket, according to the different customs. Since no-one is keeping track, you can give whatever you feel like — again depending on your own income. If you don’t mind eating noodles for the coming month for the sake of the bride and groom having a nicer trip to Bermuda, then give a little more; if the landlord is at your door threatening eviction if you don’t pay the rent, then give a little less.




Post # 6
587 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I’d give whatever you would have spent on picking a gift off the registry. I spent a lot of money going to a wedding of a friend I almost never see and I gave her around $150. I think that’s a safe number to go with. But seriously, give what you can afford. If you’re all in the same situation then they won’t judge!

Post # 7
1900 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

I’m gonna chime in with the others saying give what you can afford. If you honestly can’t afford a “decent” cash gift with all the travelling, maybe try talking with some other friends that are going and chipping in together for a gift?

Post # 8
1849 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@Spideykiss:  I must be cheap, but since you see her so rarely and the whole thing is already putting you in the red, I would give $100 and no more. 

Post # 9
59 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

We mostly got 75-100 dollars from our fellow young college friends, and wouldn’t have expected anything more from them. I think anything less than 75 dollars could be seen as offensive ( I wouldn’t be offended, but I know of people who would be).

Post # 10
201 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@aspasia475:  I love your detailed answers to etiquette questions!  I feel that good manners are important. 

I hope that we dont receive cash gifts from our friends for exactly this reason.  I feel that it’s inappropriate to give cash to somebody of equal social standing.  I’m sure that some of my friends would disagree, but I would feel very uncomfortable accepting cash from them.  I would feel fine about receiving  cash from an older relatives or my boss, but they are at a much higher level of social standing/wealth than me.

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