Manners Matter: Wedding Gifts

Dear Mary Pat,

We are invited to a wedding in Nice, France. It’s our dear friend’s daughter’s wedding, and unfortunately, we cannot attend because we have an important family obligation that same week. My friend has shared some of the details of how much this wedding is costing (wow!) and how it’s going to be an absolute fairy tale, with contributions of the groom’s family, my friend and her husband, and the couple.

I’m disappointed to be missing it, and I’m also struggling with what to send them. Do I have to spend more on the gift because they are spending a fortune? I know we won’t be attending, but the cost per person is nearly $3,000. I would normally spend around $300 to $400, but I don’t want to appear cheap. Help!

Absent Wedding Guest
Lake Forest, Illinois

Dear Absent Wedding Guest,

It sounds like this wedding is going to be quite the spectacular event and that it will be a hard one to miss. As far as the gift, though, the amount you spend doesn’t have anything to do with how much the couple or families spend: there isn’t a formula that correlates with the price per plate.

The way to determine the cost of a wedding gift is based on your budget and how well you know the couple. It doesn’t matter whether the food you’re served costs $65 or $495. Spend what you would have spent if they were having their wedding and reception here. Your regular budget sounds very generous indeed.

Good luck,
Mary Pat