If you're invited to a wedding, it won't be long before you're wondering how much cash to give as a gift. Sure, you can buy an item off the registry, but cash may be appreciated even more, especially by young couples just starting out. In the end, the amount you should give depends on factors like your relationship with the couple, the location of the wedding and whether you actually decide to attend.
You can use your relationship with the bride and groom as a general guide to determine how much cash you should give. The closer you are to the couple, the higher the amount you should probably give. For example, a standard amount of around $50 to $75 per person attending is suitable for casual acquaintances and friends from work. Personal friends and relations come in a bit higher, around $75 to $100 per person. For weddings involving close friends or immediate family, $100 to $150 or more per person is more than respectable. Although you may opt to give less and can certainly always give more, these basic amounts will keep you from being too far off on your estimate.
Many wedding guests attempt to calculate the cost per person of the wedding reception in order to arrive at the appropriate gift amount. Guests often feel they must at least cover the expense of their attendance to be fair to the wedding couple. This logic is flawed because there is no fair way to estimate the cost of all the factors involved in putting together a wedding. If the bride and groom expect to break even on the expense, they probably won't anyway. Your presence and a cash gift that you can afford is all any good friend or relative could want in the end.
Destination weddings bring all types of new costs into the discussion for both the wedding couple and their guests. Flights, hotels, dining out, taxis and everything involved with a vacation and a wedding come into play. Obviously, it costs more to attend a destination wedding than it does an event in your hometown. According to Peggy Post, author of "Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, 5th Edition," a smaller cash gift or even a token item is all that is expected when guests incur the expense of getting there as well as attending, although you can certainly give more if you are so inclined.
Even if you can't make it to the big day, a gift is still expected. Your absentee gift can be less, about half of what you would have given if attending. If you are not close with the wedding couple and are not attending, nothing more than a card stating your kind wishes and regret for being unable to appear is required. If you're missing a close friend or family member's wedding, you should give as much as you would have if you'd been there.
Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.