How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

You've been invited to a wedding, and you've looked through the bride and groom's registry. You can afford some of the things on their list, but not everything. Here are some tips on how much you should spend on a wedding gift.

Think About Travel

If you're traveling to the wedding, you have some wiggle room on how much you spend on a gift. The couple probably understands that you're traveling a distance, and, for many, the fact that you made the trip actually means just as much (if not more) than the gift itself does! Regardless, try to find something small from their registry to place on the gift table. Even if it's a gift card to Target or a local store they can use to purchase decor in their home, you never want to show up to a wedding empty-handed.

Think About Your Personal Budget

Look through the items on the registry and find one or two that are within your personal budget. Find those items instead of looking for a big item that will knock everyone else's out of the park. A wedding isn't the time or the place to show off your gifting skills. If your budget is too small to get something the bride and groom have on their list, consider splitting the cost with another attendee or talking with the couple about getting them an alternative gift. While it's typically a faux pas to get the couple a gift that isn't on the registry, talking with the couple about it beforehand not only shows that you consider them close enough to know about your financial situation but that you care about their wedding. An intimate personalized wedding gift that doesn't break the bank can be a great option.

Think About Your Relationship with the Bride and Groom

If you're not in consistent contact with the bride and groom, you don't need to go all out for a gift, but that doesn't mean you should avoid getting them one. They invited you to spend their special day with them, so you should still bring something. However, if you grew up with the groom and have remained close during your adult years, you shouldn't just get him and his bride something from the dollar store. Find something much more personal that not only symbolizes your relationship with them but also the importance of their union. Look for home decor items, such as unique personalized cutting boards, or something they can both use, like matching monogrammed robes.

Go Traditional

Wedding gifts were traditionally things the couple would need in their new life together. In the past, most couples didn't live together prior to getting married, so the friends and family attending the wedding would gift them practical items their parents might not have let them take into their new homestead. Today, many more couples are already living together prior to tying the knot - but that doesn't mean tradition can just fall to the wayside! You should not arrive with a $20 gift card to Chili's. Instead, if you know Chili's is their favorite restaurant to visit on date night, arrive with a $50 gift card. Additionally, tradition dictated that you should 'pay-by-plate' - think about how much the bride and groom probably paid for your seat at the table and your food. While some etiquette experts have indicated that this line of etiquette thinking is long gone, you should still keep it in mind when picking a gift. Even if you don't pick the most expensive version of the non-stick pan on their registry, you should still consider adding a couple of additional, smaller items to your gift to show your thanks for the invite.

Consider Their Lifestyle

If the couple isn't the type who would enjoy an espresso maker, don't buy one for them. If they love to eat Chinese takeout, consider some personalized metal chopsticks. Think about the couple, what they like to do and how they live their lives - individually and together. Even though they might be sharing the same last name, they are still individuals. You could consider getting them each something to represent their individual tastes, but make sure it's packaged together.

Other Things to Remember

When attending a wedding, don't just focus on the gift. While that's a large part of the celebration, there are a few other things you should keep in mind in preparation, especially if you're attending on a budget:

  • Attire: While most weddings are cocktail attire instead of black tie, you should still try to avoid wearing jeans and a t-shirt. If you don't necessarily have the funds to go out and purchase a whole new dress, shoes and accessories (or a suit, tie and shoes), consider renting! Many formal wear sites have rental garment options available. You don't have to worry about laundering the garment, and it won't sit in the back of your closet, unworn for years. You could also ask close friends and family for items you can borrow, such as accessories. No matter what, make sure you pick something comfortable. Most wedding festivities, from the ceremony to last call at the reception, last around six to seven hours.
  • Eat a Snack Beforehand: If the ceremony is at 3 pm, but dinner isn't scheduled until 6 pm, don't wait all day to eat. Never assume that you will have food prior to dinner, and never assume that festivities will start on time. Consider bringing a small snack, such as a protein bar, so you have something to eat before or after the ceremony. You don't have to go eat a huge lunch, but bringing a small snack will prevent you from ordering too many drinks at the cash bar.

When considering wedding gifts, it can be hard to find the right gift that won't break the bank. Focus on finding a personalized piece for the couple that symbolizes their new union and stays within your personal budget.

4 Min Read

We Must Protect Black Students

A Black, 14-year old, female, middle school student is tackled to the ground and handcuffed by a resource officer because she wanted to go to the school's health office.

A white teacher assigns a slave trade enactment as a class project, assigning Black students to the role of being slaves.

A teacher insults Black students and their parents in front of the entire class, causing Black students to tell their parents to not come to the school.

These instances of antiblack racism are happening in schools across America today. Over the summer, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey, and others have shined a light on longstanding antiblack racism in the US and, more specifically, in education.

Although there have been significant gains in improving Black students' education, there are still persistent opportunity gaps for Black youth. For instance, the rate of graduation for Black students has risen to 92%; however, Black students significantly lack access to honors, advanced placement, and/or gifted and talented courses (United Negro College Fund).

Does the classroom/school library include Black authors? Do the posters and bulletin boards reflect students' culture and lived experiences?

Also, while there has been an increase in Black college-going, most of this increase has been in under-resourced institutions, which creates student loan burdens for many Black college-educated adults. And, in light of recent over-policing, it's important to note that Black students are punished more harshly for the same behavior as white students, often for nonviolent offenses. The punitive nature of schooling for many Black students further isolates them from schools, resulting in higher dropout rates and higher risk for incarceration and other risky behaviors.

So how do we save Black students in schools that have a long history of antiblack sentiments and racially unjust policies and structures?

First, educators need to take an antiracist approach, which is actively eliminating racism through the acts of challenging and changing systems, organizational structures, policies, and practices that perpetuate systemic racism and racialized education outcomes. As part of this approach, educators must acknowledge that even well-intentioned teachers may be practicing racism without being aware of it. All educators are victims of being miseducated about issues of race and racism and now, they must be re-educated.

Celebrating the contributions of African Americans to US history enhances self-pride and models resilience for Black students.

The Center for American Progress delineated three ways in which educators can fight systemic racism in education: advocate for equitable funding, advocate for less policing and surveillance of students, and advocate to end de-facto segregation through school and district boundaries. Essentially, antiracist educators must be aware of and challenge policies that can potentially "push out" Black students. Examples of push-out policies include zero-tolerance discipline policies, special education identification policies, grading policies, standardized test policies, and attendance policies.

Second, educators need to become more knowledgeable of the history of racism and antiblack sentiments in the US. Professional development for educators should include content from African American and/or Black studies (including Critical Race Theory), sociological theory, and other literature relating to the experiences of Black people in the Diaspora from slavery to the present.

The 1619 Project, an ongoing project directed by Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Times Magazine, is a wonderful source for educators who want to become knowledgeable about slavery. Educators must examine how racism was the outcome and the ideological support for slavery rather than the cause of slavery. Just as important for educators to examine are the many contributions of Black people to US history—from Robert Smalls to Angela Davis to President Barack Obama. Celebrating the contributions of African Americans to US history enhances self-pride and models resilience for Black students.

As part of this approach, educators must acknowledge that even well-intentioned teachers may be practicing racism without being aware of it.

Third, for Black students to thrive, it's important for educators to fully embrace culturally responsive strategies in the classroom. According to Ladson Billings (1994), culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of learning. CRT requires that teachers encourage students to draw on their prior knowledge, to make learning meaningful and timely, and to ensure that the classroom reflects students' culture/race.

Does the classroom/school library include Black authors? Do the posters and bulletin boards reflect students' culture and lived experiences? Recently, a group of teachers in Massachusetts formed a Book Club to learn more about culturally responsive teaching, decolonizing curricula, and Abolitionist Teaching. The free, online "Abolitionist Teaching Book Club 2020" grew from a 30-teacher webinar book club chat into a 10,000-attendee five-day teacher conference in a matter of weeks.

And last, it's most important for educators of Black students to build meaningful relationships with their students to ensure they feel respected, valued, seen, and loved. In Dr. Bettina Love's book We Want To Do More Than Survive, she emphasizes the need for Black/Brown students to matter. She defines mattering as "building a community where people love, protect, and understand Black and Brown children."

Recognizing the humanity of teaching is the foundation of Love's concept of Abolitionist Teaching—which promotes teachers' utilizing protest, boycotting, and calling out racist, homophobic, etc. ideas and practices as a major component of their role as teachers.

All in all, it's essential that we ensure Black students have access to antiracist, respectful, historically-informed, engaging, loving teachers to thrive. However, this task is too important to be relegated to some educators. If all educators don't ascribe to this antiracist approach, we will continue to perpetuate the problem. We can no longer passively accept racism in classrooms and schools—Black students deserve more.