Wedding gift etiquette: Cash is still king, but how much?
Maria Vasquez and Brendan Goldblatt, and their daughter Victoria, from New York, walk down the aisle after their wedding ceremony in New York's Empire State Building, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. (AP / Richard Drew)
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, May 24, 2014 8:34AM EDT
Between the engagement gifts, bridal showers, stag celebrations and bachelor parties, weddings can take quite the financial toll. And that's before the big day even arrives.
While registering for gifts remains a common practice, experts say cash is still king when it comes to wedding.
Wedding planner Lynzie Kent says a general rule is to give a gift that at least covers the cost of your reception dinner.
"It used to be $100 a head is kind of the going rate, but these days I think it's anywhere between $150 and $250 per person," Kent told CTVNews.ca.
Wedding planner Danielle Andrews Sunkel agreed that the "cover your plate" rule is a common rule-of-thumb when it comes to gift giving, but she said, ultimately it's up to the guests.
"It's been heard of mothers being at the wedding shower and whispering, 'You know the meal is going to cost $150 a plate,' so people get an idea of how much they're supposed to be giving," she said. "But there is no etiquette on that for giving a gift."
Andrews Sunkel said one of the most common questions she's asked is how much cash to give, and she believes it should be based on your relationship with the couple, and what you're comfortable with.
But when really pressed for a dollar figure, she said between $100 and $150 per person is appropriate.
A Weddingbells' 2014 reader survey pegged the cost of a wedding in Canada at nearly $31,700, including a honeymoon.
But Kent says, in pricier cities such as Toronto, the average cost ranges between $40,000 and $45,000 for a wedding with 150 guests.
Couples are also incorporating more into their wedding days, such as late-night food trucks, photo booths and even cigar-rolling stations - all of which add to the cost.
But it's not up to the guests to factor the wedding experience into their gift, experts say. And, while your relationship with the couple tends to influence the amount you give, the wedding venue or added bells and whistles at the event should not.
Kent said, at the end of the day it's a couple that's choosing to throw the kind of wedding they want, and the financial obligations rest on their shoulders.
"I don't think the guests should feel obligated to pay for an overly-lavished wedding, and nor do I feel they should pay less for a simpler wedding," she said.
One thing that couples planning a wedding should keep in mind heading into their big day is that they're not going to recoup the costs.
While there's an expectation to bring a gift when invited to a wedding, Kent said guests should also only give what they're comfortable with.
"As the couple, you are inviting the people you want to be there because they are important to you, and whether or not they bring you a gift shouldn't matter," she said. "A gift is kind of a positive collateral of throwing a wedding, but it should not be the reason you throw a wedding."
Should guests feel obligated to give a certain amount as a wedding gift, or should any gift do? Leave your comments below.