Forget about place settings and linens. Many of today’s couples prefer cold, hard cash as a wedding gift.
But as a guest it can be hard to know the appropriate wedding gift amount. The right amount depends on several factors, including geography, your income, your relationship to the couple and whether you’re attending the wedding as a couple or family.
Is It OK to Give Cash as a Wedding Gift?
Yes, it’s always acceptable to give cash as a wedding gift. In fact, experts say that giving cash as a wedding gift can be a practical and much appreciated present. Seventy percent of couples registered for cash on their wedding registry, an increase of 10% over last year, according to TheKnot.
How Much Should You Give as a Wedding Gift?
There’s no hard-and-fast answer to this question.
“The average gift that people give for a wedding is around $100, and that stays consistent whether they’re giving a physical product or a cash gift,” says Emily Forrest, director of communications for Zola, a wedding registry website. “It really depends on your relationship to the couple or if you’ve been given a plus one. In those cases, the guest typically gives a little more.”
Still, experts say it’s better to focus on your own budget than on that of the bride and groom. Jodi R.R. Smith, president of etiquette consulting company Mannersmith, suggests using the following rule of thumb: Take the amount that you would spend on a nice dinner out for yourself and multiply it by four.
“So, if my budget is really low, and I only spend $20 on dinner for myself, that would put me in the $80-$100 range,” she explains. “But if I have a fabulous lifestyle and easily drop $250 for a nice meal and a bottle of wine, then I would be looking at about a grand.”
From there Smith suggests increasing the amount if you’re going as a couple or family or are particularly close to one or both future newlyweds. You might also spend less if it’s a destination wedding and it’s costing a lot to get there.
It’s important to keep in mind, Smith says, that this means the right amount to give as a wedding guest could change over time.
“It could be that for right now, the economy is doing well and my budget is more for wedding gifts,” she says. “But then at another wedding two years from now, I might have just had a big expense or be sending a kid to college, so the gift might be smaller to reflect my budget at that time.”
[READ: How to Save for a Wedding.]
Should You Give Cash If You’re Not Attending the Wedding?
Both Smith and Forrest say that you should send a gift even if you’re not attending the wedding, although the cash amount can be smaller.
“You should send something if you’re close enough to have been invited,” Forrest says. “Many couples right now have been planning their wedding for a year or longer and they’ve been curating their guest lists to a list of people they’re very close with.”
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How Much Money Should You Give for a Wedding Gift? originally appeared on usnews.com
From The Knot