By: Revanche

Wedding gifts, revisited

July 6, 2010

In the last two weeks, I’ve attended two weddings. One was a surprise invite from a new friend I’d bonded with over rheumatoid arthritis, unemployment, job-hunting and other mutual concerns; the other was a surprise as well but from a very dear friend.

The second friend insisted that out of town guests not give gifts, and provided a really cool “registry” where those guests who didn’t have their own ideas could donate towards a few things that the happy couple would like to own. I love everything they picked and loved the idea of donating toward the really cool stuff.

The first friend, well, I’m a little bit stymied.  I think that it’s probably appropriate to give more of a token gift because I’m not a very close friend and we were a last minute invite.  I know this because we had discussed her wedding in casual chats several times, namely how she was keeping it very small and budget – there’s no way we’re good enough friends that we were A-list guests. No harm in knowing that in my opinion, we’re both pragmatic people and I’m in no way offended.

My question is: am I wrong?  PiC immediately assumed we were giving $100.  I’m of the mindset that a token gift card of $50 would be fine.  Is that a cheap consideration?  Should the depth of the relationship be part of the equation in determining a gift?

Other wedding related posts:
Weddings: how far would you go, how much would you spend?
Wedding Registries: A time to judge?


My thanks …..

to Evan of My Journey to Millions for hosting this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance and including my plea/cry of exasperation about iPhones and smartphones.

Be sure to submit to next week’s Carnival hosted by Funny About Money!

18 Responses to “Wedding gifts, revisited”

  1. I always err on the side of being generous with gifts. I hate the feeling of being cheap, and if I ‘under give’, that feeling will gnaw at me forever.

    I do give more to people I am closer to. But I always give at least as much as what I think it cost to invite me.

  2. Serendipity says:

    I don’t think I’m very good at giving wedding gifts. 🙁 But I think 50 is more than generous enough to someone who don’t know that well.

  3. er… before I can answer you…

    is your friend Asian/Chinese? And is it a Asian/Chinese banquet? and is PiC invited as well?

    Cause I know when it’s Chinese weddings, all the rules change. ^_^;

  4. Karen says:

    I think $50 is reasonable. I wouldn’t necessarily gift $100 to a close friend (a note that most of my friends do not live where I live so there is always travel involved to attend).

  5. 444 says:

    I would not spend $100 on someone I don’t know very well. In fact, I’d cheap out and spend about $30. That’s me being kind of stingy, though. I don’t necessarily approve of people spending a lot on their wedding, and they don’t “need” to invite me, so I don’t feel a need to pay them back for their expenses. I’m saying that for people I hardly know, that’s about all I spend on them. I once spent $35 on a birthday present for a kid we didn’t know (a classmate) and won’t see again, and I never got so much as a verbal “thank you.” I called to act like I was not sure it was opened or attributed to me (I had seriously forgotten to label it and had to leave early) and the Mom said, “Yeah, we got it” with, incredibly, still no “thank you,” even with the perfect prompting as I as doing, and believe me, it was a nice item, a comforter for a bed with his preferred animated character… not a bad present, just bad manners on the part of the people I didn’t know. Sorry, I got into my own story but the point was: People I don’t know well get puny gifts from now on because they may not even appreciate them! :oD

  6. 444 says:

    Wow, I just realized I said the exact opposite of everything “Everyday Tips” said. With the exception that I also give more to people I am closer to.

    I am not as stingy as I make myself out to be. Sometimes I give to people when the urge strikes, which is oftentimes outside typical occasions. I don’t feel any gnawing feelings, though, because I don’t feel obligated to anyone.

  7. Jenna says:

    I think wedding presents reflect that friendship, not the price tag. Seems like you can find a lot of fun, small, thoughtful presents without spending $100 or $50.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Gee… we give $100 to family and $50 to non-family (sometimes less if we buy off a registry). I always thought that was pretty generous. Maybe our friends were just stingy when we got married…

  9. Red says:

    $50 to a not-very-close friend sounds like more than enough. I think the relationship between you and the bride/groom should be the first consideration when planning gifts.

  10. Yes – I think relationship plays a big part. I think $50 seems reasonable if you are a b-list guest. 🙂

  11. KC says:

    I just went to a wedding this past weekend too for a co-worker of my fiance’s. He originally wanted to gift them $100 but as I barely know them and he’s not particularly close to his co-worker, I suggested we gift $50 instead. If the wedding were for a close friend, I would gift anywhere from $50-$100 in cash or the equivalent off of a registry. But for people I barely know, I’d say $50 is more than reasonable.

  12. Revanche says:

    @Everyday Tips: I understand, and that’s actually what inspired this post! I still haven’t sent the card yet, waiting to tote up the results of the poll 🙂

    @Serendipity: Well, I typically just give money. ‘Cause I’m Asian. 🙂

    @Asian Pear: She is Chinese but the wedding was not traditional, PiC was invited as well, but she did a budget buffet all in one wedding. Not that I’m judging, it’s just very non-traditional as I understand it in my experience and by her definition/description. Now what do you think?

    @Karen: Very true, travel does change the equation.

    @444: My gnawing feelings are related to my own sense of rightness more than obligation. But your point is well taken. And that Mom? What the heck??

    @Jenna: That’s true, but I don’t know her well enough to buy her a great gift and I’m MUCH more picky about the thoughtfulness of a gift – if I can’t be sure it’s to their taste, that they’ll love it or use it, the gift is money.

    @Anon: Oh goodness, don’t feel like it’s stingy just because we have weird “norms”! We only think of that as “normal” because we’re Asian and are accustomed to a specific tradition. (see my related post)

    @Red: Yay! I like your vote 😉

    @Stacking Pennies: I always used to forget the hyphen and end up calling myself a Blister.

    And I like your vote too.

    @KC: Thanks!

  13. I’d give something off the registry, rather than straight money. For not-so-close friends, I would think a 20-30 dollar item would be sufficient. But if I were strapped for cash I would just send a nice card. I know that, for my wedding, I invited people that I wanted to party with, and I was way happier to see my friends than to open their gifts. You get such a ridiculous pile of gifts for weddings anyway that only really anal brides are worried about it, and who wants to hang with them anyway?

  14. I would say $50 is completely fine, especially if you weren’t good friends with her – especially if you know you weren’t on the A-list. If you’re worried, just buy something off their registry, sinceonly the most insane of brides will sit there figuring out how much you spent.

  15. I’d give $50-$100 then. Probably just $75. Cause I’m cheap but $100 is a bit much for an acquaintance type friend who invited you last minute.

  16. Jenna says:

    @Revanche / no registry? Then you can get something you know they would want that fits your budget.

  17. $50 seems generous to me! I think that would be a great gift from even my close friends…we usually keep our gifts to $20-$30 anyway. 🙂

  18. Revanche says:

    @The Lost Goat, Jenna, paranoidasteroid: They didn’t register for anything.

    @The Asian Pear: Splitting the difference? Might do!

    @BFS: I don’t know what it is about our self-imposed assumptions about gift giving but I keep forgetting that they are mostly self imposed.

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