When you search for “wedding invitations” on Google, the first results you find are: “Best ways to ask for money on your wedding invitation,” “How to ask for money as a wedding present?”, and “Texts to ask for money as a gift in a wedding invitation.”
Another common search involving weddings and money is: “How much money should I give at a wedding?” It would seem that love is not primarily on the minds of millions of internet users when it comes to weddings.
Iván got married last year and he says one of the hardest parts about organizing the celebration was working out how to include his bank account on the wedding invitation without appearing rude. “We wanted the guests to give us money and not presents, because my wife and I had to pay for the wedding without any help from our parents and we were up to our necks in expenses,” the 37-year-old physiotherapist explains. “The problem was, we didn’t know how to say that in the invitation without being crass. In the end, we chose to say: ‘For those who would like to make a small contribution, here is our bank account.’ It seems like a very simple phrase but we spent days thinking about it.”
Amanda, on the other hand, is worried about how much she is expected to give at her best friend’s wedding at the end of July. “I have no idea how much I should give her and I’m worried because I don’t want to give too little, but I’m not flushed with money,” says the 31-year-old educator.
It would be almost a miracle for a bride and groom to get back all the money they have invested
Wedding etiquette expert Diana Rubio
Amanda’s situation is more common. It was easier before with gift registries, where the bride and groom would choose the items they would like as presents. But today, what they want is money. The question is: how much?
According to data collected in the Libro Imprescindible de las Bodas (or Essential Wedding Book), a couple spends an average of €169 per guest for a wedding in Madrid. The total cost of a wedding in the Spanish capital is around €24,000. In the northern regions of Asturias, Basque Country and Navarra, couples spend over €200 per guest, and between €25,000 and €30,000 on the entire wedding.
Interestingly, only 37% of couples are happy with how much they get. According to these figures, 5% of guests turn up to a wedding without giving anything. In other words, at every wedding two guests will come empty-handed.
“Today it would be almost a miracle for a bride and groom to get back all the money they have invested,” says Diana Rubio, the director of the Mediterranean Institute of Etiquette Studies (IMEP).
Five percent of guests turn up to a wedding without giving anything
Vanessa Moreno, the head of Elite Wedding Planners, agrees: “Now it’s not just that it’s not viable to make money from a wedding, it’s that the cost won’t even be covered.”
Noelia has married two times in the past 10 years. “With the first wedding we got back all the money we spent. But with the second, which was two years ago, we weren’t even close to the amount that we spent on the celebration. Today getting married involves a lot of costs [for example the photo booth, buses, five-hour open bar] that weren’t considered before,” says the 42-year-old lawyer.
Diana Rubio and Vanessa Moreno, experts in etiquette and wedding planning, shed light on the question that wedding guests find most uncomfortable.
This is what you should pay:
If you are a close family member of the bride or groom
If it is your brother or a close nephew or cousin who is getting married, you should prepare to spend big. “In these cases, the minimum would be €500 per couple. Between €500 and €1,000 per couple is what’s required,” says Moreno. “The money should cover the cost per head and be enough for a good present besides. Under no circumstance should it be less than €250 per person,” agrees Rubio.
But Moreno accepts that not everyone can afford this amount. “There are a lot of people who despite being direct family give €150 or €200 because they can’t afford more and that’s fine,” she says.
If you are the best friend of the bride or groom
Etiquette dictates that a best friend should give the same amount as a direct family member. “Obviously you are not going to ask for a loan to go to your best friend’s wedding, but in these cases the economic sacrifice is important. When the relationship is so close it’s normal to give €500 per couple. Those who have more money give more, and those with less try to stick to that figure, but don’t always manage it and are able to give less,” explains Rubio.
If you are a distant relative, friend or a work colleague
“There is a basic norm that stipulates that if one goes to a wedding, regardless of their relationship to the bride or groom, the minimum they must give is €150,” says Moreno. If you are going with your family, Moreno says you should calculate €100 for each child. “The correct thing to do in this case is not to give less than €500 – €150 for each adult and €100 for each child,” she says. This way you cover the cost per head and leave the couple with enough for a present.
If you are a close family member or best friend but cannot go to the wedding
Even if you are not going to your brother’s or best friend’s wedding you are still expected to give a gift. “The minimum you should give is the cost of the cover. In no case should you give less than €100,” says Rubio.
If you are a friend or work colleague and cannot go to the wedding
“This is the only case where you can allow yourself the risk of getting an actual present that the bride and groom have not asked for,” says Rubio. But don’t be too adventurous with your gift. Rubén, 36, says he was given a large vase by a work colleague that “as well as being ugly, was so big we had nowhere to hide it.”
“If you can, the ideal thing is to give them an experience like a dinner out or a getaway or something you know they will like. In this case, if you are under a lot of financial strain, there is also the option of not giving anything at all,” adds Rubio.
English version by Melissa Kitson.