How much should you spend on a wedding gift?

Credit: Photo courtesy of Crate & Barrel.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Crate & Barrel.

If you've been invited to a wedding, inevitably you'll contemplate how much to spend or give as a wedding gift. You are not alone in your quandary.

Many couples create wedding registries filled with things they want and need. Not only does this indicate what you should buy for the couple, but it also avoids weird presents or a bunch of duplicate toaster ovens and electronic can openers.

To make things easier for guests, Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot, offers insight into picking the right present. While she recommends the wedding registry, which often includes popular items like housewares, bed linens and kitchen electronics as a top choice, she also acknowledges "cash is king."

"The (Retail Me Not team) broke down the amount of gifts based on people in your life. For siblings, $195 is the average gift. For your best friend, $159. The numbers start getting smaller for extended family, coworkers and acquaintances, which tend to start at $45."

If you're going with the cash option, it doesn't necessarily mean dollar bills. It's still smart to write a check in case the card gets misplaced during the hubbub of hors d'oeuvres and cocktail hour, dinner, cake cutting, dancing and all the other wedding festivities. But the amount of the check should still be equivalent to the cost of a tangible gift. Additionally, if you bring a guest, you should "up the ante at least by $50" according to Skirboll.

Weddings are costly for the couple as well as guests. Sometimes, your bank account says no because you really cannot afford a present, but in your heart, you really want to say yes to support your friend, family member or loved one. Instead of skipping the wedding entirely, Skirboll insists that you should attend. "Bring something, even if it's just a card. That will be appreciated as well. If your budget is really constrained and doesn't allow for a gift at that particular time, your presence, love and support is still important. The couple wants you there — you were invited for a reason, so show up."

And, there's good news to showing up: you can give a gift later. "The old rule of thumb is that you have six months to a year to give a gift. That still rings true, so you have time to work on your budget and give the couple something at a later date," Skirboll said.

Everyone knows that happiness has no price tag, but when your budget permits, it's good to show the couple some love with a thoughtful gift.