Navigating wedding gift etiquette: ‘Should I send a gift even if I can’t go?’

Mar 10, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

Wedding etiquette can be a bit of a battlefield, especially when it comes to the gift. While in the past, homewares and household items were commonly the most accepted gifts, these days couples are rarely in need of these items having often lived together well before the nuptials, paving way for a new trend of gifting cold hard cash instead.

For many older people, the idea can seem a little tacky, but the rise of giving money has been made more acceptable by the use of ‘wishing wells’ where money, along with a ‘wish’ for the newly married couple is left at the reception. The money is usually put toward a honeymoon, a house or perhaps to help with the cost of the wedding.

One woman has found herself a little unsure of the new modern etiquette when she was asked to give cash leaving her unsure of exactly how much is acceptable, taking to the Gransnet forum for advice.

“Dh (dear husband) and I have been invited to a wedding but are unable to go due to other commitments,” the woman began.

“The couple who are getting married have asked for money towards their honeymoon and as we have not been to any weddings for some time, we have absolutely no idea how much we should give them.

“We do not see this couple very often and we are not particularly close to them but we do very much appreciate that they thought to invite us. I’d really welcome any advice on what would be a suitable amount to give them!”

The woman’s question was answered by hundreds, with opinions very divided as to whether she should be giving a gift at all if she can’t attend. Others were unsettled by the idea of cash, saying even asking for money was “crass”.

“Unless you are very close I would send a card and good wishes,” one said. “I wouldn’t have expected a gift from anyone not able to attend my wedding, which was 51 years ago today.”

“Younger people may not think it’s a bit cheeky but the older amongst us might,” one said.

While another said she’d stick to a voucher, writing, “On principle, I wouldn’t give money. I think it’s crass to even ask for it. (So they spend it frivolously whilst perhaps you have to budget carefully?)

“In the past, I’ve given a voucher to put towards something for their household. Young couples always need something even if it’s only tea towels or a lamp. In effect, it amounts to the same thing I suppose but it “sits” better with me. However, in your shoes, given you are not close, a card would be my choice and leave it at that.”

Many said they’d also attended weddings where cash was expected and encouraged the woman to gift what she could afford as a thank you for the invite.

“As they were kind enough to invite you I would give £40-50 ($AU75-95)  if I couldn’t go to the event. Probably give more if we were going,” one said.

“I would think that £50 is about right. £100 if you are feeling flush as obviously you won’t have the expense of travel,” another suggested.

While another said they were fine with gifting money for an upcoming wedding, though the mother of the bride was “horrified” by the idea.

“A close family member is getting married next year and may well ask for money perhaps towards a spectacular honeymoon! They both have had their own homes for some years so there is nothing domestically that they need,” she wrote.

“I am fine with this and expect to give a reasonable amount. However, her mother is horrified by people doing this so I expect to get fall out over it. Be interested to know other views as I intend to give money no matter the flak – the happy couple are what matters anyway surely?!”

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