You’ve just received an invitation to a wedding – so why is your heart sinking? Between finding the perfect outfit, deciding who to bring, wondering how to get there and saving the date in your diary, it’s not as simple as we’d like to just casually attend a wedding. And even after you have all that sorted out, there remains the biggest question of all: how much should you spend on a wedding gift?

Much like not wearing white if you’re not the bride, there are little unwritten rules about the etiquette of gift-giving at a wedding. But don’t worry, we’ve got them all explained below, so read on!

Stick to their gift list

If the happy couple has gone to the effort to compile an online gift list, then stick to it. While at first glance gift lists might look like a greedy child’s list to Santa, it’s actually good sense. A gift list helps prevent duplicate gifts, so the bride and groom don’t have to worry about getting too many toasters, and you won’t have to be embarrassed by presenting them with a redundant gift.

If the couple hasn’t given any clue as to their gift list, there’s no shame in asking, or (depending on how close you are) even recommending that they do.

The most common budget : 20-40£

If you have a long, close history with one or both of the couple then you should let that inform your gift. It might even mean you know the couple well enough that they wouldn’t want you spending lots of money on them, on the other hand, it might be all the more reason for you to really give them something to remember this special day. Discuss it with them if you feel like your budget won’t stretch, or if you feel they might be embarrassed by any large gifts. If you’re not so close, you can stick to the most common budget: £20 – £40.

Precisely what you buy is also dependent on your relationship with the couple. Something generic but charming like candles or crockery set for helping them start their home together is suitable for the wedding of a colleague or acquaintance, while you can probably find more unique wedding gifts for friends and family.

Budget limits

While £20 – £40 is the most common price range, you may find that you are expected to give more, or less. If the wedding itself has clearly been conducted on a budget, it’s agreed that gifts can follow this same ethos. If the wedding is a more lavish affair and one that will see you, the guest, well looked after, then you may reconsider your budget to be more suiting to the occasion. In most cases, gifts should not exceed more than £100, and plenty of elegant yet affordable gifts can be found for considerably less.

The one real exception is when bride and grooms request charitable donations instead, then you are free to give as much or as little as you like.  A general rule of thumb is; the closer you are to the couple (i.e. sibling to the groom) the closer to the upper end of that £100 budget you should be, but really, this all depends on how your relationship with the couple is.

You are not the gift

You may have travelled from the other end of the country to attend a wedding, but it’s just not good manners to say your travel expenses should negate the need to give the happy couple a more concrete gift than your presence. If you are close with the couple you can certainly discuss this with them, but generally, you should come armed with a gift of some sort.

If they have a wedding gift list you should be able to tick something off within your budget. An always charming and non-costly option is personalised wedding gifts that are completely unique to your lucky couple.

Couples, cancelled wedding = No gifts

The rules apply to the couples, too. If you call off your wedding you must return any gifts you have received. If you have a gift list, this should be simple enough to organise, otherwise, you will have to go about things manually. In any case, you have no right to keep gifts for a celebration that is not going to happen.

Another popular query is about having gifts returned if the wedding fails. Some people believe that a swift divorce following the marriage should mean all gifts are returned, general etiquette and common decency rules that a recently divorced couple shouldn’t have to worry about returning their used toaster to whoever gifted it to them, though.

All ready for a wedding? Stop worrying about presents and enjoy the big day!