How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” – Old English Rhyme

'Tis the season for weddings… especially if you live in California and know a lot of gays and lesbians. Until the court’s decision came into effect on June 17th, I hadn’t been invited to a wedding in years. Of course, I’ve accompanied Jeanine to a few, but she’s from a sprawling Italian family and you need a chart (and there are charts!) to actually figure out how she’s related to that fourth cousin once removed.

But I haven’t been invited to a wedding of the friend-variety in years. Literally, I think it’s been a decade. I suspect it’s a product of age. I’m forty-one and most of my straight friends got married off years ago… in their late twenties or early thirties.

Point being, I’m a bit rusty with the social graces of nuptial gift giving. But with the legalization of same-sex marriage in California, it’s time to brush up… starting with how much is the right amount to spend on a wedding gift. I did some Web research and SmartMoney magazine tipped me off on the smart amount:

Some say it should reflect the estimated cost that the couple spends on your behalf for the reception meal. Of course, if you’re shipping the gift ahead of time, this can be tricky. Calling the bride and asking whether chicken Marsala or prime rib will be served can be awkward.

The Knot recommends spending between $100 and $150 for weddings in New York and other big cities, and $75 to $100 nationwide. But those are just basic guidelines. Your budget should ultimately be a personal decision, based on how close you are to the couple and how much you can afford to spend.
Hmm, that still seems too subjective. For example, what happens if I need to spend money on transportation and lodging to attend the wedding? According to Craig Smith of Gay Celebrations, the hot destination-wedding is the Four Season Biltmore in Montecito and I know those charming cottages will set you back $800 a night (not to mention, there’s a two night minimum). I’m sure the grooms will negotiate better rates for their guests, but still should I factor in this expense when it comes to how much I spend on the gift?

And then there’s the topic of the gift registry! I won’t ramble off on that tangent, but instead point you to this most excellent post with some ideas about how the marrying types can make sure guests feel like they are more than ATMs.

So how about your thoughts? What’s the right price to spend on a wedding gift? Feel free to comment over at Queercents. No gift-wrap required.