Should Guests "Pay" To Attend Weddings?

4 years ago

It's that time of year again! June marks the traditional beginning of wedding and commitment ceremony season, and we're beginning to see the beautiful flowing gowns, the sharp tuxedoes and tuxedo dresses, the perfectly arranged flowers, and the long stretch limousines carrying nervously excited bridal parties to ceremonies across the country. Guests arrive, tissues tucked in pockets and sleeves, ready to celebrate the loving union of people the watched fall in love.

Image: via Flickr

When it comes to gift-giving, we often rely on etiquette guidelines, as diverse and varied as they can be, to help us select the perfect gift. Many people focus on giving gifts or money that reflect their best wishes for the happy couple, but that are also within their financial means. Guests today are usually provided with a wedding registry beforehand to help guide their gift selection, which proves to be tremendously helpful in avoiding duplicate (or even triplicate) gifts. Registries can also help attendees get a better sense of the couple's personal tastes and preferences. There is no rule saying guests have to buy anything from the registry, however, nor is there any rule saying that gifts or money given should be of a certain value. 

Some people are a bit more particular about this, it seems. Recently, a bride informed a wedding guest that her gift was insufficient. The bride was so disappointed in the gift she received from her coworker and her date that she told her, via text message, that she and her wife lost out on $200 covering the cost of their plates. She went on to give a rather harsh "etiquette" lesson on the value of gifts given by wedding guests, criticizing her coworker for not giving her money instead.

Are there suggestions about the monetary value of wedding gifts? Sure there are. The general consensus is that guests should plan to spend about $75-$150 per person depending on location, cost of living, and relationship to the persons getting married. Destination weddings cost more to attend so the gift obligation is minimal, while your best friend from high school or your baby brother might inspire you to spend more or seek a more special gift. None of this is written in stone and no one should have a wedding reception and invite people focused on the monetary value.

Your guests should not be thought of as financial contributors making a down payment on your future together. When it comes to sharing your feelings about a certain gift you received, Julie Ross Godar, Executive Editor here at, says that anything but providing a gracious "Thank You" note should be avoided. She suggests writing:

"Thank you so much for coming to our wedding and sharing the day with us. We really loved having you there, and we will definitely enjoy sharing your whimsical box of treats with our friends and family!"

See how easy that is?

So why are more and more people becoming so comfortable with being downright rude to gift-givers? How fair is it to make assumptions about person's financial situation and whether or not someone can afford to buy the $175 set of salt-and-pepper shakers on our registries? I can understand being disappointed with a gift; we're all human with normal reactions, good and bad. You might be a vegan and if someone gives you a $150 gift certificate to Omaha Steaks, I can understand you being peeved. Shouldn't someone who knows you know better? However, you should still be gracious in your acceptance of the gift and focus on your appreciation of their attendance at your ceremony and reception.

What do you think? Should guests be expected to give gifts or money to cover the cost of their plates? Should brides, grooms, and partners have gift expectations when planning their  ceremonies and receptions? Is there ever a situation when a guests should be told their gifts aren't good enough? What are YOUR thoughts about gift-giving?


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