I was recently divorced and am now single. When I go to a wedding where cash is the expected gift, can I give half as much as I would if I was still part of a couple? It only seems fair, but I may be seen as cheap.
Single Again in N.C.
Dear Single Again,
You’re not the only one who has wedding guest fatigue.
The pressure is on guests to come up with increasingly lavish gifts. This is part of the problem: “Wedding guests should be prepared to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per celebration this wedding season,” according to a survey released by personal-finance site Bankrate.com earlier this year. This includes the cost of attending the wedding, bachelor/bachelorette parties, wedding showers and, of course, gifts.
Here’s some context. Millennials (ages 18 to 37) are less generous than the national average, according to Bankrate’s survey. Young adults report spending $57 on wedding gifts when part of the wedding party, $47 for close friends or family when they’re not in the wedding party and $48 for more distant relationships. This compares to $153, $116 and $63, respectively, for those three categories of wedding guest. Cash usually has to be a nice fat round number.
Don’t miss: These cash-strapped couples want total strangers to pay for their weddings
I’ve shared this story before: The best gift I ever gave anyone was two Portmeirion teacups and saucers with a card saying “Tea for Two.” The couple had requested no gifts, but I quietly decided to give a token gift anyway. I’m cheap, but not that cheap. The bride said it was their favorite gift and, on their first wedding anniversary, posted a photo of the teacups on Facebook. Those cups cost $20 at a thrift store and I knew they would make the perfect gift.
So do you have to give half the amount? I’d only give whatever you can afford and/or the cost of your plate. That could be $100 or $150. If they are true friends, they would rather you turn up and give a lesser amount than stay home because you can’t afford to write a big check. Anyone who wants cash should, in my book, also have a registry, give it as an option and say what it’s for. Or only ask close friends and family. Otherwise, it becomes too transactional.
Cash or gifts? Teacups or crystal? Guests should have a choice.
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