Wedding gift etiquette

As wedding season begins to approach, it’s time to lavish some attention on the people who suffer significantly during this time. It’s not the bride or the groom, but you, the dutiful guest.

Gone are the innocent days of no-fuss simple weddings, Pinterest has taken a firm hold of many happy couples expectations, creating weddings that can last for days, complete with fancy dress, photo booths, entertainment and speeches that never seem to end. And then there’s the added stress of choosing the perfect gift.

Even after you’ve spent enough to pay off third world debt on wedding outfits, accommodation and travel arrangements, you’re still left worrying how much you need to spend on a presentable gift. Even if you’re budget is unlimited, finding a perfect present is no easy task.

Whatever the case, we’ve put our heads together and come up with the ultimate guide to choosing the ideal wedding gift for the happy couple. With something to suit every interest and budget.

How much is enough?

According to Jonathan Holmes, CEO at, there are no rules when it comes to deciding how much to spend on a gift: “Most people will end up spending around £50 on a gift, but this depends on a lot of variables. Close friends or family are likely to spend more while newer friends, colleagues or anyone that’s only been invited to the reception are likely to spend less.”

Often deciding how much to spend can be heavily influenced by how much you’ve already spent: “If a couple decides to plan a wedding abroad and are expecting guests to pay for travel and accommodation, then in all likelihood they should expect a lot less to be spent on gifts”.

“Even if you don’t want to spend much, buying something small or even writing a heartfelt message on a card can be worth much more. It is the thought that counts”.

Is it okay to give money?

You might be tempted to give up buying a gift entirely and just hand over some notes stuffed in a card, but giving money at some weddings can be a controversial choice.

A lot depends on the couple and the type of wedding. Giving money as a gift can be seen as bad etiquette, especially with those from the older generation, many of whom think it’s completely unacceptable.

Knowing who your giving the gift to will help make this decision easier. If you’re planning on giving money to a younger couple who are saving for a deposit on a house, then a small gift of money might be a perfect gift.

If in doubt, you can always just ask the hosts if money would be okay, chances are they will say yes.

Weddings are an expensive business for everyone involved, so a gift valued at £50 or less should be perfectly acceptable. Friendship and family are priceless and it shouldn’t be necessary to prove how much you appreciate that relationship by the value of a gift.

What about a gift list?

A survey conducted in 2014 found that nearly a fifth of all wedding guests chose to ignore the gift list, instead wanting to buy whatever they thought was appropriate.

The same survey found that over 95% of guests that do buy something from the gift list will try and buy the cheapest items possible.

It’s fine to ignore the registry as most of the guests will choose to stick with it. But if you do decide to pick something from the gift list, you better be quick about it, or you’ll end up with only the expensive items to pay for.

Gifts to avoid

Traditionally, gifts for the home would be what most people would expect to receive as a wedding guest, but not anymore.

Most couples nowadays have cohabited for several years before deciding to tie the knot. This means that they will already own most of the unexciting home goods that are the staple of a traditional wedding gift.

This includes blenders, ben linen, toasters and other homeware products that you can’t live without if you already live together.

Fail-Safe Gifts

If the wedding couple has not gone down the route of creating a gift list, or if you’d rather choose something on your own, you can’t go wrong with a personalised gift. A unique keepsake which includes a personalised message is something that most couples will treasure.

Sometimes the smallest things, like a personalised photo frame will be enjoyed for years to come.

Artwork is also becoming increasingly inexpensive, an original design or wall art canvas print may cost less than you think and will likely be treasured by the happy couple for many years.

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