When it comes to wedding gifts, budget early and assess your connection to the couple

  • May. 10, 2018 9:55 a.m.

TORONTO — If you took a peek at Nic Capobianco’s calendar over the last few years, you’d find a dizzying number of suit-fittings, bachelor parties, rehearsal dinners and weddings.

His busy social calendar centres around a handful of friends and family members who have tied the knot recently, along with four couples who have asked him to be one of their groomsmen this year alone.

While he’s thrilled to be included in their big days, the Toronto-based technology company executiveadmits the invitations trigger a struggle: deciding how much money to give the couple.

“It is always a head-scratcher to figure out the appropriate amount,” he said. “It has become a source of contention.”

It’s a common source of anxiety for wedding-goers in Canada, where stories of elaborate nuptials and pricey parties abound, said Tracey Manailescu, the vice-president of the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada.

In lieu of formal guidelines regarding how much to gift the happy couple, Manailescu advises guests to add a bit extra to what the venue charges per plate, which she says can sometimes be found by searching online. It’s not unusual for wedding meals to cost more than $100 and up to $200 in some places, she said.

“If the typical plate is $150, then maybe you should give $175 a person and if the typical plate is $100 a person, then maybe you want to give $125 or $150,” she said. “If you’re very, very close (to the couple), you will want to look at $250 a person and up depending on your economic status.”

If the couple has opted for a wedding registry, she said to spend whatever amount you would have given in cash on items from the provided list.

When attending a wedding without a date, Capobianco — who is often invited to big Italian weddings, where he says couples are known to keep a ledger detailing their presents to guide their future gift giving — usually sticks with an amount between $200 and $250.

When he is a best man, he pushes it to $400.

Those gifts usually come on top of what he spends on a host of other events related to the wedding. Stag fundraiser tickets usually cost him between $80 and $100. And, he added, bachelor parties are becoming increasingly expensive as more seem to involve overseas destinations or going to concerts or other big events.

Women similarly face costs adding up from bridal showers and bachelorette parties, which often necessitate fancy outfits and a gift.

To juggle those costs, millennial money expert Jessica Moorhouse said to start saving as soon as you find out you will be invited to the wedding or in the wedding party. If you were thinking of buying a new outfit for the event, she suggests reaching into your closet for something you’ve worn before, as most people don’t remember what you wear every time they see you.

Moorhouse usually gives $100 when attending a wedding and explains that financial constraints needn’t be cause for stress or embarrassment.

“More times than not, if you can’t afford something or are freaking out because you don’t have $100 to give, if you ask the bride or groom, I am sure they will be totally fine and if they are not, then maybe you shouldn’t even go their wedding,” she said.

Edmonton-based wedding planner Jennifer Bergman said there are many factors that should dictate how much to give a couple, but she sees a typical range of $150 to $200.

She feels the method of adding extra money to the per-plate cost is “outdated” and is loath to dictate what people should give, but said she doesn’t think guest should give less than $100 per couple and said “don’t attend if you can’t afford it.”

If you aren’t able to attend the wedding, most experts said you’re not obliged to give a gift, but added that it is not uncommon for people to send a card, a donation or a token of appreciation later.

The bottom line with all wedding-related gift giving, said Moorhouse, is to not let the stress of the whole process get to you.

“Don’t get caught up in what you think is right or wrong or proper. The last thing you should worry about as a wedding attendee is money. That should be the bride and groom’s worry.”

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