(NEXSTAR) — Summer is here and with it comes wedding season. And with wedding season comes another difficult task: gift-giving.
“Weddings are one of the few social conflicts or social events where, when we receive an invitation, it creates an obligation of a guest, regardless of whether you go,” explained Lizzie Post, co-president and author at the Emily Post Institute, an organization focused on providing etiquette advice.
If you don’t have a knack for gift-giving or a reasonable registry to work off of, bringing the perfect gift for the newlyweds may be a challenge. Record-breaking inflation may even add to the pressure: A 2020 survey by The Knot, a wedding planning website, found the average guest spent $120 on a gift in 2019.
Post, too, acknowledged that being invited to multiple weddings in the same year can “start to get taxing on people, especially during really hard financial times.”
“I’ve seen so many crazy registries. Like, you’re asking for thousand-dollar items.” Post told Nexstar. Among those registries was one in which there were no items under $75.
When it does come to giving a wedding gift, there are a few things you should know. First, whether you’re in the wedding party or a regular guest, there is no etiquette standard on how much you should spend on the gift. Instead, Post said, it should depend on your budget and comfort level. You also don’t need to stick to the registry.
“If you look at that registry and you’re not down with the items that are left on it, or everything is not within your budget, or you just start feeling really inspired elsewhere, it’s fine to go off-registry,” Post explained. “Registries are suggestions, they are not a checklist for the couple to obtain.”
For those putting together a wedding registry, Post suggested making it both accessible and inclusive. This means adding gifts that are more affordable for guests with tighter budgets. Some registries also allow guests to crowdfund contributions toward a larger item, or contribute to the honeymoon fund.
If you, as a wedding attendee, have a tighter budget, you may want to buy an off-registry gift for the happy couple, rather than give a gift card or cash. Smaller gift amounts, like $5 or $10, “tend to be better gifted,” Post explains.
If you aren’t attending the wedding, Post recommended sending “something that’s more of a token or an appreciation.”
There may, however, be some gifts you’d be better off avoiding.
“I do think that where people can get into trouble is when they really try to go for the shock and awe — especially the awe — factors,” Post explained. Instead, the gift should be focused on the couple. “You want to think about what are their interests, what are their joys in life, and what could you get?”
Ultimately, the gifts you choose to give are up to you — and likely dependent on the situation, Post said.
“It’s really up to your budget, what you choose to give, and also your comfort level.”
An average guest may be invited to five weddings this year alone, according to The Wedding Report. With hotel costs, gas prices, and many other related costs (like some gifts) on the rise, guests could end up spending much of their savings to attend just one wedding in 2022.