Cash can be considered either crass or considerate as a wedding gift, depending on the wedding couple and their preferences. Some cultures encourage the giving of cash. Traditional Italian brides carry a satin satchel that guests fill with money and checks. Greek weddings feature the money dance, where guests pin cash to the wedding gown of the bride and tuxedo of the groom. When cash is encouraged as a wedding gift, the question is how much money is appropriate.
Upscale or Down Home
A wedding's location and style helps determines how much you should give as a cash gift. A formal cathedral wedding with a four-course, sit-down dinner demands a higher dollar value for your gift than a backyard wedding, with a champagne toast and wedding cake rather than full-scale food service. A wedding gift of $250 to $300 for the upscale wedding is in the correct range, while perhaps $100 works for the less formal wedding. The exception would be a destination wedding which requires hefty travel expenses and hotel accommodations you have to pay. In these cases, the bridal couple shouldn't expect major monetary gifts.
If you are a close friend of the bride or groom, you might already have given a number of gifts before the big day even arrives. First there's the engagement party with a required gift, a wedding shower or two (or three), and the the bachelor or bachelorette party. By the time your friends finally get married, you've popped for three or four gifts already. If that's the case you can't and won't be expected to give as much for the wedding gift and a token gift of $25 to $50 works.
If you were recently married and the bride, or groom-to-be, gave you a modest gift, your gift could be in a similar price range for cash. Going overboard with $200 or $300, when she gave you a set of dish towels, could be embarrassing for her and expensive to you.
A common gift is to estimate how much the reception cost, divide by the number of attendees and give that as the gift. If you don't have a clue what the per-plate charge is, $100 each is a safe bet.
So Many Weddings So Little Cash
Face reality, summer is the time for weddings. Your budget can stretch only so far. If you've got four weddings to attend in the next six weeks, take a hard look at what you can really afford. Your generous nature might say $250 is an appropriate cash gift, but your checking account might say $75 instead.
It makes sense to give more money to couples you are close to than a co-worker you don't know that well. Just be careful you don't go overboard. If you or your sweetie is part of the wedding party, you've already paid for your dress, shoes and accessories and perhaps the bachelorette party or wedding shower. Your presence is what the bride and groom really treasure, so don't feel you're being a tightwad by giving them $50 as a gift.
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