By Kristin Salaky
reprinted from thisisinsider.com
It’s getting pricier and pricier to have a wedding and, in turn, it’s getting pricier and pricier to attend a wedding.
In fact, it costs a wedding guest an average of $888 to attend each wedding, [according to a 2016 study by The Knot](https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-guest-cost-2016). Of course, that number includes your outfit, transportation, accommodations, and your gift. Still, many wedding guests are wondering just how much they should be spending on that wedding present.
If you’re choosing to give cash or a check as a gift you should keep a few things in mind when determining the amount:
How well do you know the couple?
Obviously, you’re going to give more money to your bestie than you would to a co-worker from several jobs ago. That doesn’t mean that you gift one couple pocket change and the other a blank check, but it means that you can adjust the cash amount as you see fit based on your closeness with them.
“A good rule of thumb is the closer the relationship the higher the budget,” international etiquette and protocol consultant [Julia Esteve Boyd](https://www.etiquetteconsultancy.com/) told INSIDER.
As a rule, the ranking goes as follows, several etiquette experts told me:
Family member or life-long friend
Not-so-close friend/plus one
How much cash do you have to start with?
If you’ve been invited to a person’s wedding, chances are they care about you and don’t want you to go into debt over their big day. Figure out your finances and see what you have to give in the first place. Be honest with yourself and get down to how much money you can truly gift the couple, even if you might have to cook instead of get takeout for a month.
The queen of etiquette, Emily Post, [even said](http://emilypost.com/advice/choosing-a-wedding-gift/) to “give what you can” as a rule.
What about the plate rule?
While the rule used to be that your gift should cover the “plate” (aka your meal) for the reception, that rule has become a subject of a controversy to etiquette experts. Most have said that they think it’s [outdated](https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-gift-etiquette-cover-plate-rule) and even tacky to put a [“price of admission” on a wedding](http://www.phillymag.com/philadelphia-wedding/2013/08/19/expert-wedding-gift-cover-cost-guests-plate/).
Many also noted that this rule also puts the onus on the couple to tell guests how much the plate cost is in order to plan their gift.
But a lot of wedding guests are still married to this tradition. If you do choose to go that route, wedding photographer [Jimmy Chan](https://www.pixelicious.ca/) pointed out to INSIDER that guests can research what the wedding venue offers as far as plate prices themselves to avoid an awkward conversation with the couple about costs.
The hard numbers:
Many etiquette experts decline to give a hard and fast set of numbers for a wedding gift because there are so many different factors at play.
That being said, it’s a good rule of thumb not to go [below $50 for your wedding gift](https://www.theknot.com/content/rules-of-wedding-gift-giving). This should be the base amount for acquaintances and distant relatives. From there you can inflate as you see fit, keeping in mind that you should increase the gift amount by at least 1.5 times if you have a plus-one.
Keep in mind, though, that the average wedding [attendee spent $113 on a gift in 2016](https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-guest-cost-2016), so $50 may be low-balling it, especially at weddings in urban areas [where the cost of weddings is higher on average](https://www.theknot.com/content/these-are-the-25-most-expensive-places-to-get-married-in-america).
What if you can’t afford it?
If you can’t seem to swing the $50 gift no matter how hard you try, you have several options. You can decline the wedding invitation and simply send the couple a card with your best wishes to show that you care. This would hardly be a new occurrence, [as 21% of wedding guests said](http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/18/this-is-how-much-guests-actually-give-at-weddings.html) that costs have prohibited them from attending a wedding.
Additionally, you can go in on a registry gift with a group of people that would make your contribution less than $50 or buy you a little more time to pay the full amount. In fact, many couples have said that this [type of gift is actually their favorite to receive.](https://www.theknot.com/content/rules-of-wedding-gift-giving)