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How should wedding guests choose how much money to give?

18th July 2016

I overheard an interesting argument recently about how to choose an appropriate gift for an American wedding.

One person recommended calling the venue to learn how much they charge per plate:

I never want to be a financial burden on a couple getting married. I always remember what it was like for my brother and myself. I, personally, would like to cover the cost of the food I am eating and add a little more. Since most places will charge at least 150/plate I think a couple attending a wedding should give about $300, which is generally seen as a nice gift. I think $200 would be light, but it depends on how expensive the wedding reception is. If the wedding will be too expensive calculating travel costs and the gift, then I won’t go. I’ll still send the couple a gift though.

I just had a friend’s wedding yesterday. They kept it low key and at their house. I gave lower than my usual $300 since it was a house party with no DJ or band.

At my own wedding, where I paid $200 per plate, a jackass family of doctors gave 50 bucks for their 4 person families. I’m sorry but their plates cost me $800. They gave me $50. Those cheap bastards didn’t deserve to eat at my wedding.

On the other side of the argument, someone said the cost of the wedding has nothing to do with how much guests should give:

A gift is just that, a gift. It should be what you feel comfortable with and can afford. I don’t know where this notion comes from that your gift has to cover the cost per plate. That is BS. You are a guest and you give a gift because you want to and can. It is none of your business what they spend per guest.

A guest should have nothing but the notion they were invited to the wedding because they are wanted there. It is not up to them to decide whether or not they are a financial burden to the couple and that is not the basis for a gift.

Covering the cost of the wedding is the responsibility of the couple getting married. Maybe they get help from their families, maybe not. If people cannot afford a big wedding without guests paying for at least the cost of their plates, then the couple should downsize their plans. It may not be fun, but it is the adult decision.

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