How much should you spend on wedding gifts?

If you’re heading to a wedding this year, chances are you’re wondering how much to spend on a wedding gift!

It’s an honour to be invited to a wedding, but the costs can soon stack up. Research by lifestyle brand LastVerdict found that it costs £541.90 on average to attend a wedding. And, with over 278,599 weddings happening every year in the UK each hosting an average of 82 daytime and 106 evening guests, it’s pretty likely you’ll be invited to at least one celebration this year so it’s important to be prepared.

We’re answering all the questions you need to know about wedding gifting, from how much to spend to whether it’s ever ok to give cash as a wedding gift.

How much should I spend on a wedding gift?

Most experts agree spending between £50-£100 is about right, depending on how well you know the happy couple. Research suggests that, on average, Brits spend £65 on a wedding gift though they’ll spend significantly less (around £23) if they’re just invited to the evening do.

Many people are conscious about how much they spend on a gift, not wanting to appear cheap or overzealous.

It’s not about how much you spend; it’s about showing the couple you care. Something that is both personal and unique can become something they will treasure. That will trump an expensive gift with not much thought behind it. - Alison Tinlin, wedding blogger

Is it ever ok not to get a wedding gift?

Though a small percentage of guests won’t give a gift at all, it’s generally considered good guest etiquette to bring a present if you do attend the big day. If you’ve been invited to a wedding but can’t attend, you shouldn’t feel obliged to buy a gift – though a token gesture such as a card or small present will likely be appreciated.

Here’s a bit of good news if you’re a wedding guest on a tight budget: almost a quarter of would-be brides and grooms don’t expect a gift or cash at all… just smiles all round on their big day!

If you’re strapped for cash but still want to contribute, remember that being generous comes in different forms. It’s not always about how much you spend but more about how you spend it.

Can I give cash or a cheque as a wedding gift?

As couples move away from asking for conventional homeware items, cash gifts are becoming increasingly common at weddings.

In today’s society, most couples already share a home together, so are more likely to have everything that was once traditionally gifted to a newlywed couple.

More couples are now happy to ask for a small monetary donation towards their honeymoon instead of a gift. You’ll usually know if cash will be warmly received as couples may well include a quirky poem or note in their invitations to let their guests know they’d prefer cash in advance of the big day.

Plus, if you know the happy couple are heading off on a dream honeymoon somewhere exotic, why not give cash in a foreign currency so they can enjoy treating themselves while they’re on holiday? This is a thoughtful alternative to giving cash for their big day.

Wedding trends are always changing so, instead of trying to find a gift that suits the wedding theme, giving cash is a great way to offer your congratulations whatever the size, theme or vibe of the wedding.

How much cash to give as a wedding gift?

As a general rule, you should give the same amount in cash as you would spend on a physical wedding gift.

Most wedding experts agree on the following amounts when it comes to giving cash as a gift:

  • Evening guest only: £20-£50
  • Acquaintance or colleague: £30-£50
  • All-day guest: £50-£100
  • Wedding party or immediate family: £100+

You may choose to add a bit more to this total if you’re attending the wedding as a couple.

What about gift cards?

The use of cash has been steadily declining for years, so a gift card may be a good option for those who don’t often carry cash. Buying a gift voucher for the happy couple is slightly more personal than gifting cash, too, while still allowing the recipient the freedom to purchase whatever they want.

You can choose a gift card that can be used across a broad range of stores or pick a specific gift card from a place you know they like. Whether you choose a retail store or a restaurant, the bride and groom are sure to love the chance to treat themselves!

The gifts on the wedding registry are too expensive – what should I do?

The wish list is usually a range of items that the couple have selected together to help their guests have a stress-free gift buying experience and prevent duplicate or unwanted gifts being given. The bride and groom’s wedding registry should include a range of options to suit different price points designed to ensure guests can always find a gift within budget.

If, for whatever reason, the gifts on the registry are too expensive for you – perhaps the low-priced items have already been chosen by other guests – don’t worry too much. You have a few options:

  • Use the wedding list as inspiration to get a feel for the kind of items the happy couple likes
  • If you know a few other people attending the wedding, pool your funds together and get one of the more expensive items on the list as a joint gift
  • Simply choose to give cash or a gift voucher instead
  • Wait a little while. The couple may realise their wedding list is dwindling and add a few more mid-budget items to the registry before the big day

What to give for a wedding gift – top 5 budget-friendly wedding gift ideas

So we’ve covered cash, gift cards and vouchers. But if you’re on the hunt for a different present idea that won’t break the bank, check out these top 5 alternatives:

1. Hand-make your wedding gift to show the couple how much you really love them. Think about your hobbies and use your skills to create a unique and thoughtful present

2. Choose an experience voucher and give the gift of a once-in-a-lifetime experience

3. Frame your favourite photograph of the happy couple (or a hand-painted image if you’re a keen artist)

4. Donate to charity on the newly married couple’s behalf

5. Go for traditional, non-expensive gifts such as matching mugs, champagne flutes or towels

Looking for more budgeting tips? Take a look at our advice on how to manage a budget successfully. Or, if it’s nearly your turn to be the bride and groom rather than the wedding guest, our guide on finding an engagement ring on a budget could help you pull off the perfect proposal.


Written by

Stephanie Reid

Stephanie Reid is a financial services expert with over eight years of experience writing money-saving articles at Novuna Personal Finance. She has written hundreds of articles on a variety of topics including interior design, home improvements and weddings - with a keen eye for spotting money-saving opportunities and passing these tips onto readers. As a mum of two, Stephanie knows how important budgeting effectively is for parents and often incorporates family budgeting tips into her guides.

Thursday 16th March 2023

More articles we think you'll enjoy