Knowing how much to spend and what to buy for a wedding gift can be a minefield, so let these wedding gift statistics be your guide.
Getting invited to a friend's wedding is a wonderful thing, but it also opens up a few social etiquette questions that you need to navigate.
Such as, what to wear?, How much to spend?, and what to buy the happy couple for a wedding gift?
And it's this last one I'm going to focus on here.
As we all fret about buying an appropriate wedding gift for our loved ones, both in terms of price and being something they actually want and will use.
So I thought I'd take a look at the latest wedding gift spending statistics to see what other wedding guests are typically doing.
And to do this I analysed the following wedding surveys and research to get an idea of wedding gift shopping trends:
Wedding Gift Spending Highlights
Before we go into more detail on what we found in the various surveys and reports, here's a wedding gift spending statistics infographic featuring the key findings.
How Much Do We Spend On Wedding Gifts?
A 2019 wedding gift survey by The Knot (i) found that the average amount people were spending on a wedding gift that year was $120.
This number rose to an average of $130 for close friends and family, while more casual friends were typically spending $80 on a wedding gift.
And by 2021 the average spend on a wedding gift had increased to $160 (The Knot) (ii), so it seems like this number is rising year on year.
However, in 2022 a study by CivicScience (v) showed that only 17% of people planned to spend more on wedding gifts than usual, with 56% expecting to spend the same as before and 27% expecting to spend less.
And other factors also negatively affect how much people are willing to spend on a wedding gift, such as 27% saying they'd spend less if it wasn't the bride or grooms first wedding (Nerdwallet) (iv).
While the main reasons for spending more on a wedding gift were it being a wedding of someone very close (58%), or them being part of the wedding party (30%).
What Are The Most Popular Types Of Wedding Gifts?
When wedding guests were asked what their main considerations were when choosing which gifts to buy the top three answers given were the price, buying a gift the couple would use, and getting them something they actually want (The Knot) (i).
And the handy thing is that most couples have a wedding registry with a personally selected list of items you can choose to buy for them, which make them failsafe wedding gifts to give.
So it's no surprise that The Knot survey (i) found this to be the most popular wedding gift option, with 42% of those surveyed choosing to buy a gift from the wedding registry.
However, some wedding guests still liked to go rogue, with 14% buying a physical gift that wasn't listed on the registry.
While cash (29%) and gift cards (10% from a retailer on their registry, 6% from somewhere else) were the other options.
The Zellepay survey (viii) also gave people a choice between buying a gift from the registry or giving cash as a wedding gift, with 54% choosing the registry gift and 46% choosing cash.
But while some people seem willing to give cash as a wedding gift, they don't appreciate being asked to do so.
As 52% of those surveyed thought it was tacky if the wedding couple asked for cash rather than gifts (Nerdwallet) (iv).
Which Wedding Gifts Should You Avoid Giving?
While you may think you are being more creative and thoughtful by buying the happy couple something that's not on their wedding registry, this can prove to be a bad move.
As many newlyweds have no qualms about getting rid of any unwanted wedding gifts.
In fact, a 2015 study by Debenhams in the UK (vi) found that they admitted to selling two-thirds of their unwanted wedding gifts.
While a 2013 wedding survey by One4all (vii) found 82% had sold their unwanted wedding gifts online using sites such as eBay.
So which gifts should you avoid?
Well the Debenhams study came up with a top ten list of unwanted wedding gifts as follows:
So instead maybe stick to the registry, or take the advice of the 84% of couples who say they would prefer to receive money as a wedding gift rather than a random physical gift (Zellepay) (viii).
The Costs Of Weddings And Wedding Gifts Can Be A Problem
As you can see wedding gifts are not cheap, especially when you couple that with the average total cost of being a wedding guest in 2021 being $460 (The Knot) (ii).
Which may be a reason why an estimated 7-10% of wedding guests fail to give a wedding gift at all! (Betches) (iii).
While a 2018 study by Nerdwallet (iv) found that 33% of Americans either skipped or had considered missing a wedding they were invited to because they couldn't afford to go.
And for those wedding guests that bit the bullet and went along, 39% of them admitted to using a credit card to cover the cost of attending.
Deciding what to buy someone as a wedding gift can be difficult but it doesn't need to be when you are armed with the wedding gift spending statistics that I've presented to you here.
As it seems from the data that the safest option is to buy the happy couple something from their wedding registry, as you can then relax safe in the knowledge you are buying them something they actually want.
And when it comes to how much to spend on a gift, that depends on how close you are to the couple, with people spending more on those they know better.
However, a range of $80-$160 seems to be a good ballpark to aim for.
And if you really can't decide on something from the wedding registry then give them the cash in a card instead, rather than trying to improvise and buying them something random!