How Much Money Should a Grandparent Give for a Wedding Gift

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A wedding is a wonderful occasion and when it is your grandchild it is even more special. But when it comes to the gift-giving part of the day it can get tricky. If you’re giving cash, you might be wondering how much money should a grandparent give for a wedding gift? Here are some things to consider before you pull out your checkbook.

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How Much Money Should a Grandparent Give for a Wedding Gift

There are several things you should consider before you decide how much you should give. Here are the most important.

1. Your Income

If you are on a fixed income then forget about giving a large amount of money. Your grandchild should understand that you don’t have the cash to burn.

Consider giving $50 dollars if you can afford it. 

This is a respectable dollar amount and in this situation, it really is the thought that counts.

Your grandchild should be thrilled you are there for their special day. They shouldn’t care about your gift.

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2. Do You Need to Cover Your Plate?

It used to be that when you went to a wedding that you were expected to give wedding gifts or money that would equal or exceed the amount it cost the couple to feed you.

That’s no longer the case and it shouldn’t be. 

It’s not your job to pay for the couple’s wedding. Besides, this can lead to unpleasant situations.

For example, years ago, I lived in Seattle, Washington with my boyfriend. His sister who lived in Chicago, Illinois with their family, was getting married.

It was a pretty fancy and expensive wedding. Certainly, the most expensive wedding I had ever been to considering all my relatives had their receptions in the basement of the church and the only food was nuts, mints, and the cake.

Anyway, my boyfriend and I had to pay for airline tickets to fly to Chicago. He was in the wedding, so he had to rent a tux as well.

I had bought a really nice wedding gift – which they ended up hating – for about $100.

All combined, the plane tickets and the tux and gift came to about $850 dollars.

While this wasn’t a destination wedding, it was for us as we had to travel to get there.

Well, once the wedding was over, his mother made a huge scene because our gift wasn’t expensive enough. 

She never took into consideration the expense of us getting to the wedding. Personally, I found this very distasteful and that’s the type of situation that this idea of covering your plate can lead to.

In the end, and under duress, my boyfriend ended up writing his sister a check for even more money.

So, be happy this is no longer a rule. 

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3. Your Relationship with Your Grandchild

You will want to take into consideration your relationship with your grandchild. Hopefully, you have a close, loving relationship, but that’s not always the case.

I grew up thousands of miles from my grandparents and I barely knew them.

For others, as a grandparent, you are in your grandchild’s life on a daily basis and have a very close and special relationship. You may be seen as a parent or you may actually be raising your grandchild.

The closer your relationship the more you should consider giving if you can afford it.

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4. Your Financial Situation

As mentioned above, if you are on a fixed income, don’t go overboard on your gift. You don’t want to get yourself into a difficult situation.

On the other hand, if you have a good income or retirement income, then consider giving more.

If you have the cash, think about how your grandchild could use this money to start out on their new life.

There is no upper limit, so if you are well off consider giving an amount that will make a real difference.

If you want, make sure they understand it is on the condition that it is used for a down payment on a house or some such thing, so they don’t just waste it.

5. Are You Going Alone or With Someone Else

If you are going to the wedding by yourself, then you only need to worry about giving for yourself.

If your partner is going with you, then you will want to give more.

If you are single or widowed, and you are bringing a plus one, you will also want to give a little more.

6. The Grandchild’s Financial Situation

You’ll also want to take into consideration your grandchild’s financial situation.

If they are young and don’t have a lot of income, you will want to be more generous with your cash gift.

On the other hand, if they have a great job and make good money and are a little older, then you can give less.

For example, I know someone that graduated college and got married about a year later. He got a degree in engineering and had a starting salary of $75,000. His bride had just graduated with her master’s degree and had a good job as well.

This couple didn’t need money from their grandparents that were living on less than what he made right out of school.

Also, if your grandchild and their partner have already been living together for a while before they get married, then chances are they have all the household items they need, so there is no reason to give them a big check.

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Should You Give Cash or a Check?

This one is really up to you. You can also give your cash gift on the wedding day or even before. 

It really all depends on what you are comfortable with. There is no real wedding gift etiquette on this one. 

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The Average Dollar Amount Given

In general, most people in the United States give been $75 to $200 dollars to the couple when it comes to cash wedding gifts.

The national average is $160 dollars. 

The most common advice is don’t give under $50 dollars unless you are in a really tight financial situation. 

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What if You Can’t Afford to Give Cash?

If you find yourself in a situation where you really can’t afford to give cash, you do have options.

Monetary gifts are nice, but not required.

I’ve certainly been in situations where I didn’t have a dollar to spare.

If you find yourself unable to give the happy couple a check, you have a couple of free options.

1. Family Heirloom

Maybe you have something that is considered a family heirloom. This might be an item that has monetary value or just sentimental value. 

Either way, it will be a cherished gift and maybe even the perfect gift for your grandchild’s wedding.

2. A Handmade Item

My grandmother made (crocheted) tablecloths for each of the grandchildren when they got married. 

She didn’t have a lot of money, but the tablecloths were beautiful and certainly meant more than cash.

In fact, when my mother married her son, my grandmother asked my mother what she wanted as a wedding gift. 

My mother told her she wanted a white blanket. That’s what she got and my mother still has it to this day.

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To Sum it Up:

Remember, it is supposed to be the thought that counts when it comes to a wedding gift. Don’t stress out over this. Give what makes sense to you and what you can afford, and if you can’t afford to give cash then consider a handmade item or a family heirloom. They are always thoughtful gifts.


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