The wedding industrial complex is an all-year affair. There are seasonal trends but no concrete end to when you'll be called to celebrate a couple's new life together. Those costs add up, enough to take a serious bite out of anyone's budget.
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MarketWatch personal finance columnist Quentin Fottrell recently took a question about how much a divorcée should expect to spend on wedding presents versus when she was married. A lot depends on your personal circumstances no matter what, not to mention your relationship to the newlyweds. But millennials, Fottrell said, "report spending $57 on wedding gifts when part of the wedding party, $47 for close friends or family when they're not in the wedding party, and $48 for more distant relationships." That's significantly less than the average amount spent for each category: $153 when you're in the wedding, $116 for close friends and family, and $63 if you're there to be polite.
Among millennials overall, gift-givers are often already struggling with student debt and other onerous ongoing costs. Even the lucky couple may call on their network to help with future big purchases, like crowdsourcing their first home. Fottrell advises readers to remember that it's always the thought that counts, and that while cash gifts are always appreciated, well-chosen presents that carry emotional weight don't need to be expensive to matter. "I'd only give whatever you can afford and/or the cost of your plate," he writes. "If they are true friends, they would rather you turn up and give a lesser amount than stay home because you can't afford to write a big check."