When someone accepts a wedding invitation and agrees to attend a wedding, there is a pressure and obligation to give the newlyweds a gift.
However, wedding gifts are moving from the traditional wedding registry and more towards cash and gift cards.
Nowadays, many American newlyweds have already been living with each other and thus have many of the typical household items that they would ask for on a wedding registry. Cash gifts have also become popular in modern weddings.
The average wedding cash gift amount is $100. Acquaintances and colleagues are likely to give between $50$75, friends give approximately $100, family and relatives give $100-$200, and parents give between $150-$300.
Determining how much to spend on a wedding gift is more of an individual decision that is determined by numerous factors.
When deciding how much cash to give us a wedding gift, the guests should consider how close they are to the couple and how much the wedding likely cost.
Generally, the closer an individual is to the bride and groom, the more money they should give us a gift. So, it can be deduced that a close relative will likely give a more generous cash gift than a coworker.
Further, there is some general etiquette that guests should consider when they are planning to give cash as a gift versus the traditional wedding gift from a wedding registry.
Additionally, if a couple is planning on asking for cash instead of having a registry, they should go about asking for this cash in a different way than they would from having a wedding registry.
Average Amount from Co-Workers
If the wedding guest is a coworker the amount that is generally given is between $50 and $75. Typically, this will cover the price per head and ensure that you are doing your part to assist the bride and groom with their wedding expenditures.
However, this number is lenient because the newlyweds will likely understand if you cannot afford the top dollar gift. So, it is acceptable to give a gift amount on the lower end.
Average Amount from Friends
Similar to coworkers, wedding guests that are friends of the bride and groom can usually get away with a cash gift between $50 and $75.
However, if the friends are part of the wedding party, they can usually get away with giving a smaller gift or having their present go towards event related costs such as the bachelorette party or the bachelor party.
Further, it is acceptable to go on the lower end of the price range especially if you are traveling from a long distance or have a tighter budget.
Because many millennials are only just beginning their careers and are paying many other monthly costs, most people will understand if you cannot afford the most expensive gift.
Plus, the bride and groom will likely be happier that you were able to attend the wedding and could share their special day with them.
Additionally, it is acceptable to give a group wedding gift if a group of friends of the bride and groom wants to go well together in a larger present.
For example, if the bridesmaids want to go in together on a larger $200 gift, they can usually get away with doing so and spending a bit less individually.
Average Amount from Relatives
As for relatives, such as uncles, aunts, cousins, and siblings, a $100 gift is generally standard.
However, the amount of cash that you decide to give could easily go up to about $200 especially if that individual is bringing a plus one to the wedding.
To be safe, relatives can give between $100 and $150 as a wedding present.
Average Amount from Grandparents
Like other relatives, grandparents can generally gift between $100 and $200.
While the average for grandparents and closer relatives usually remains around $150 for a cash wedding gift, this amount can go up or down depending on how close the grandparents are with the bride or groom as well as the general cost of the wedding.
Average Amount from Parents
For parents, the amount of cash gift will depend on their involvement and contributions to the overall wedding costs.
More likely than not, parents may have helped with the wedding budget and other event costs such as the groom’s dinner, the wedding reception, or the wedding ceremony itself.
Yet, the amount that parents should give as a wedding gift will probably be on the higher end such as between $150 and $300.
Cash Gift for Cultural Weddings
The amount of cash that is generally gifted at a wedding may differ depending on culture and religious factors.
Additionally, there are some general guidelines for cash gift-giving when it comes to cultural differences.
To make it easier to discern how much money to give depending on the nature of the wedding, we have broken down wedding cash gifting by different cultures and ethnicities.
If you are attending an Indian wedding, you generally do not give monetary gifts that end in the number 0.
This is because the number 0 is seen as finite, whereas other numbers are generally associated with new beginnings. That being said, your cash gifts for an Indian wedding should always end in one.
In the US, people give around $51 to $101 at an Indian wedding. If they have a close relationship with the couple, they give around $151 to $301. In India, people give around 1501-3001 rupees at the wedding and around $5001 rupees from family & close relatives.
Gifts of money are common in Jewish weddings. While the amount given will depend on the guest’s relationship with the bride and groom, the amount is generally more for those who are closer to the newlyweds.
Additionally, giving cash gifts in the multiples in the number 18 is seen as good virtue. This is because the number 18 is equivalent to Chai which means life. So instead of giving a $100 gift, you can give a gift of $108, which is 6 times Chai.
On average, acquaintances and colleagues give $54 to $108 at a Jewish wedding. Distant relatives and close friends give around $108 to $162. Close relatives and family members give around $162 to $324.
For Chinese weddings, monetary gifts usually equal the amount that the couple spent to have that guest attend their wedding.
On average, acquaintances give $50 to $75 at a Chinese wedding. Close friends and relatives and family members give a wide range between $100 to $300, and parents may give $300-$500 or help with their wedding expenses significantly.
Giving money at a Chinese wedding is not a required tradition, but it can help pay for what he expenses and that is what most Chinese people do.
For traditional African weddings, the reception can have an actual money dance. this tradition requires the new bride and groom to go out onto the dance floor end dance as their guests shower them and monetary gifts.
However, not every guest will be familiar with this tradition, so if you were planning on having this event at your wedding, make sure that there is some notification on your wedding website or that those within your wedding party spread the word to your other guests.
Similar to other cash gifts, you should generally focus on gifting the amount of money that it would cost for the bride and groom to host you. Additionally, the amount that you give should vary depending on how well you know the newlyweds.
Middle Eastern Weddings
Traditional Middle Eastern weddings will likely not have a gift registry. For that reason, it is common for guests to give cash on the wedding day.
Similar to Jewish weddings and Indian weddings, it is customary to give monetary gifts in multiples of 18 or numbers ending in one. These numbers generally provide good luck for the couple and are part of the tradition.
Unlike weddings in the United States, it is generally common for European couples to put their bank information on their wedding invitation.
Typically, European wedding guests give around €100 as a wedding cash gift. If you are close to the bride and groom, it is customary to give a little more around €150 to €200.
Etiquette of Giving Money
Wedding experts do agree on a couple of things. First and foremost, the closer a guest is to the bride and groom, the more that guest is expected to gift.
Of course, guests should not spend an exorbitant amount of money if they cannot afford it. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when giving money as a gift.
Generally, the norm in the past has been to give a gift that equals the amount of money the new couple likely spent on hosting that guest.
However, because wedding venues and the cast of weddings generally has skyrocketed, guests should also consider how much the wedding venue and reception likely cost the couple.
Additionally, guests can keep in mind the amount of money that they had to spend to attend the wedding.
For example, if the guest is coming from out of state or if the wedding is a destination wedding, the guest can justify giving less cash.
Because most of the money was spent on travel, it is generally expected that the guest will give a smaller gift.
Further, there is some general etiquette that guests should follow if they’re giving money to the new bride and groom.
What to Say When Giving in Person
When giving a monetary gift in person, it’s simply best to give the gift and then congratulate the couple on their marriage.
Generally, you will send your gift cards directly to the couple in the mail and then they will likely send you a thank you note in response.
But, if you are close to the bride and groom and want to give them your cash gift on the day of the wedding, at the groom’s dinner, or at the reception, it’s best to keep your gift message short and sincere.
Likely, the bride and groom will have had a busy day and as much as they would like to continue talking to you about your gift and their plans with it. So, it’s best to just keep the conversation light.
When you give the cash gift to the couple, you can say something along the lines of:
- “Congratulations to the both of you, here is a gift to help you get started with your lives together.”
- “This has been a beautiful wedding, here is a little something for you two to enjoy on your honeymoon.”
- Compliment the bride, the wedding venue, or the ceremony as you hand your cash gift over.
- If the bride and groom has set up a card box, put your cash gift and card in the box and follow the same instructions as if you were mailing it.
What to Say When Giving by Mailing
Because it is a general custom to send wedding gifts directly to the newlyweds instead of bringing the gift to the wedding, sending your cash gift in a personalized card is likely the best way to go.
Typically, you simply want to congratulate the bride and groom on getting married and express your happiness for them as well as good luck in their marriage.
But because it can be difficult to figure out exactly what to say in your wedding gift card, here are a couple of quality examples that you could use when sending a cash gift to the bride and groom.
- Send the cash gift and an idea of what it could be used for. For example: “use this for date night” or “enjoy a weekend getaway on us!”
- If the couple has already said that they plan to use the money for their honeymoon, you can say something that wishes them a happy honeymoon, such as: “enjoy your honeymoon” or “have a great time in [insert honeymoon destination here].”
- You can also simply write it congratulations to the couple they’re saying something along the lines of, “congratulations to the beautiful couple! Enjoy this gift to help you build your new home together.”
- Alternatively, you could send a card that is meant to be opened by the couple in the future. You could write on the envelope of the couple is to wait until the first year anniversary to open the card so that they have a guaranteed one year anniversary cash: “Open this envelope on your first year anniversary for a special surprise!”
With more newlywed couples requesting cash gifts in place of typical wedding registry presents, there are certain norms that should be followed. In this section, we will answer the most commonly asked questions regarding cash as a wedding gift.
When you have received money as a gift, the best thing to do is show your appreciation by writing a thank you card or thanking that individual in person.
When you receive the money, it is good etiquette to tell the person how the money will be used.
For example, the money could go towards a honeymoon, a trip, a house down payment, or any other important financial matter.
The best way to ask for cash instead of wedding gifts is to use your wedding website as an easy way for your guests to gift cash.
For example, both Zola and Honeyfund allow guests to provide cash contributions instead of registry gifts. Additionally, newlyweds should not come straight out and ask for cash.
When asking for cash it’s best to be specific about how the cash will be used, such as explaining that the money will go towards the honeymoon or towards the down payment for a new house.
Even if your wedding website is clear that you do not want gifts or cash, it generally comes across as rude to decline a gift of any sort.
If you went out of your way to tell your guests not to gift, it is still best to accept the gifts you were given.
Instead of outright declining a cash gift, you can either take it for yourself and put it towards something you need or give the money to a charity if you truly are against taking it.
Once someone gives a gift, that gift becomes the personal property of the individual who received it.
That being said, the gift giver cannot legally take back the gift unless the gift was considered a conditional gift.
However, this typically doesn’t happen and the recipient of the gift can use the gift as he or she wishes.
Typically, you do not need to pay taxes on any gift in money. You also do not need to report that gifted money to the IRS or pay any income tax on its value.
The only time that you need to pay taxes on gifted money is when the gift includes property or the use of an income from a property.