What Is an Aunt to Do in Regards to a Wedding Gift?

Updated on September 04, 2014
M.C. asks from Ann Arbor, MI
18 answers

I don't go to many weddings. My nephew's wedding is around the corner. Do I get the couple a gift off the wedding registry? If I do just a gift, am I still expected to give cash too? How much in cash would be considered a respectable amount if I do cash only? Or do I do a 50/50 split of cash and gift? Thanks!

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answers from Miami on

You don't do both. I would look at their wedding registry and see if something on the list "grabs" you. If it does, give that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I would do one or the other. Whatever gift you give will be appreciated.

One of my very favorite wedding gifts was a lovely picnic basket for two. It included a cheese cutting board, knife, wine glasses, and cloth napkins. Very pretty and fancy. My husband and I have used it many times since.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

Whatever you want to give and can give is absolutely fine. If you want to buy a gift, choose one from the registry. That's what it's there for - so you know what they need and want!

I believe differently than some here, in that the cost of the wedding has nothing to do with the amount of cash you should give, if you choose to give cash. What the couple has chosen to spend on this party has no bearing on your financial situation, and whether they choose to spend $300 per guest attending, or whether they're on a shoestring budget doesn't really matter. Your job as a guest is not to reimburse them for their party. Your job as a guest is to enjoy their special day with them, and give whatever gift you can comfortably afford to give them.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would buy something within your budget, be it off the registry (a good guideline, when you don't know what to get) or something you think they will use/like. Get a gift receipt, in case they prefer another color or something. I would either do a gift or a check, and if you give them money, give what you can afford. When I am at a loss, I have also given a gift card to a particular store (like where they are registered), especially if what is left on the registry is beyond my budget. They can use the card to fill in what people didn't buy. We have rarely given $100+ and only for a very close friend or family member. Don't feel pressured to break your bank on a wedding gift. Some of the best we received were given out of love, like the hand stitched poem and wedding picture frame, and not expensive, but priceless.

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answers from Washington DC on

i disagree that you are obliged to give cash and a gift, or that your cash offering should pay for your dinner. but i also think that using weddings as income-generators is obscene.
i would either get a gift off the registry, or a check, and the check should be what you can comfortably afford.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Our basic rule of thumb is if it's a very close family member or good friend we spend about $100, not so close around $50. That's either a gift OR cash, not both, and yes for weddings I almost always buy off the registry (unless I have something else, more personal in mind.)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

There really isn't one right answer. Our wedding was almost 9 years ago, and many of our relatives (including aunts and uncles) bought something off our registry, some bought something else entirely (sometimes this was a good thing and sometimes we looked at each other and said, "Ok?") and some gave us cash/check - $50 to $100. I think one or two people gave us $200, but I'm not sure, and I'd have to look it up.

I've seen many people on this sight suggest that you must give at least $150 or even $200. Keep in mind that some of that is regional. Also, give what you feel comfortable with.

My husband and I simply give cash or check for weddings ... always. Maybe it's because we have two little ones at home, and it's just easier. Maybe it's because we appreciated the money so much more than the fancy dishes we just thought we had to have that are now sitting in our basement because we aren't crazy enough to use breakable dishes with young kids.

Give what you want, and enjoy!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

My nephew just got married in August. I purchased 2 shower gifts off the registry for the 2 showers that I attended and then gave cash as a gift for the wedding.

I do want to say that you shouldn't feel obligated to spend hundreds of dollars if you are unable. I don't think anyone should feel obligated to cover the cost of their meal at a party that they were invited to. Give what you feel is generous and give it out of love. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

How close are you to your nephew (and your sibling (their parent))?
If you get along with them vs if they are idiots is going to make a difference in how you approach this.

If you've got the means you could do both gift and cash.
But if you can't afford it then just do a small cash amount that's manageable for you.
Selecting a gift from their registry is fine as long as you feel the choices are not outrageously expensive.
A registry selection is always a suggestion, so if there's nothing listed you feel is appropriate then you can get them a small crystal vase, candy dish, candle sticks, etc and still keep it under $50.

It's never appropriate to go into debt for these things.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It doesn't matter what you do. It depends entirely on your relationship, your finances and your wishes. If you are on a fixed income, for example, go easy! Some people like to give off the registry because (hopefully) there is a wide price range. Some would say that at least the couple will have an item that's from you and which will make them think of you each time they use it. They will know exactly what you spent, however, so it's really the same as cash in that sense. However, with cash they may use it for a honeymoon or the electric bill, so it's gone and just put into a pile with the other cash.

In some cultures, cash is expected, but if that were your tradition, you would already know.

The other thing is that those aren't you only 2 choices. You can choose a gift that is meaningful to you and that you think will be meaningful to them - and there's still the element of joy and surprise in opening a gift that the wedding couple didn't already pick out for themselves! If you have anything handed down through the family that would be meaningful and that you are willing to part with, by all means do that. It's not about money!

If you are also going to a shower and to the wedding, you may have a shower gift plus wedding travel expenses so feel free to include that in your budget considerations. A wedding is still supposed to be about the joy of the occasion and not a big gift grab - unfortunately today, so many invitations come with a gift list, and that's kind of offensive.

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answers from Anchorage on

There is no set rule, give what you are comfortable with and can afford without hardship.

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answers from Chicago on

the norm where I am from is a gift off the registry for the shower and cash for the wedding.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Either give them money or a gift off the registry. What you think is a reasonable amount to spend.

I think the amount depends on your status. Are you close to the nephew? Did you help raise him and know him well? Or did he grow up with you seeing him once every year or so when they came to visit?

Are you financially well off? or living on disability?

Do they live in the same town? Will you be going to the wedding in another location? Will that cost be hard for you?

These things make a difference.

If I was very close to this young man I'd want to go to his wedding no matter where it was. That said, if it's a destination wedding and costly you can spend as much as you can budget for the gift. I'd do maybe $50 in cash.

If you aren't attending the wedding out of town but it's out of town then you can maybe afford to spend a bit more for the gift.

If the wedding is in your town and you're able to attend and give anything you want then a nicer/more expensive gift off the registry could be nice. Cash is always nice too. When they are on their honey moon they would not like to have a billfold of checks but a nice crisp cash gift is easily usable.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

I would do either a present OR cash, not both. If you choose a gift, please purchase off the registry. Then you know you're giving what they would like and not something they already have. If they don't live in the city where they're getting married, cash would be best. Easier to travel with! Like everyone else, I agree the amount of money varies by region and socio economic group.

When I got married 13 years ago, one of my aunts gave me $500. Another gave me $200. Another knitted me a beautiful blanket. All appropriate based on their financial situations.

My male cousin just got married this summer. My mother (his aunt) gave him $300. Most of his cousins gave him the same amount. Most wedding guests gave gifts that were worth $100 - $150, or the same in cash. So my recent experience would say you should give $300 - $500.

BUT... who knows what the typical gift is near you. I also attended a wedding nearby for a young couple who had their reception at a city park(inside a rec hall). Their family cooked all the food and people didn't get very dressed up. I heard afterwards that people gave more like $50. Again, totally appropriate given the expectations.

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answers from New York on

Either or. Do what you can afford. I am sure he will be very appreciative.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I think that whatever you can do is appropriate. When I got married 11 years ago I received a big mix of registry items, cash, and non registry items. I was grateful to people who gave a gift and happy to those that attended who even didn't get a gift. had a few gifts that didn't have cards or fell off perhaps. I wanted to try to thank the right person but we couldnt figure it out. YES there were a few empty cards. The george foreman grill was hot then and I think we got 8. No I hadn't registered for one either. My grandma and wedding party were there and some insisted on "buying" some off of us. We had just had a Kohls open near us and they did a promo for them for $10 so we know what people spent. Do I care? No. In my circle we average 8 weddings a year. One may thru october we had 13 and someone from my family was in at least 5 of them. Did I have the money to pay $100/person/wedding? Oh NO! I did what I could.
If they are local to their wedding location I would do a registry item. If they are traveling I would do cash. For family though I tend to to a personal gift (hand made blanket, glass etching, personalized home decor, etc.) But that is just me. And sometimes the best gifts are the ones you dont know you want. I didnt register for a crock pot. Thought the were lame. Received an awesome one. Glad to have it. I am sure anything you do with thought behind it would be great.

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answers from New York on

We like to give enough to cover the cost per head for our attendance and a bit more if we can afford it. Dinner at our corner restaurant costs us about $75-$100 and that is nothing fancy. So for a wedding we are in for about $100-$150 each for $200-$300 total. Some weddings probably cost the couple more than that, but we just don't have room in our budget to be more generous.

F. B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Gift or a check. Up to you and the relationship. I would say $100-200 is good. Also depends if you have to travel to get there, I tend to give less in that case bc of hotel room etc.

1 mom found this helpful
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