How Much Should I Spend On a Gift For a Virtual Wedding During The Pandemic? Mister Manners Answers

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Sadly, many weddings during the pandemic have either been postponed or have gone virtual during the pandemic. So, if you're attending a wedding via a computer or phone, does wedding gift etiquette change? Mister Manners Thomas P. Farley weighs in. 

Question: "I'm attending a virtual wedding in a couple of months, and I'm just not sure how much I should spend on a gift. I know normally you're supposed to base it off of how much they would be spending on your plate, but I'm just not sure if that changes based on the fact that I'm not actually attending the wedding."
- Greer, viewer


"With respect to the gift, several things — many, many people think that their gift should be tied to the amount that the couple is spending on you as a guest at their wedding," Mister Manners says. "Nothing could be farther from the truth. First of all, how are you as a guest supposed to have any concept of how much your dinner costs? So a wedding is not a fundraiser. It is not a quid pro quo. So you should never — in pandemic times or not — be tagging the value you spend on a gift to how much you anticipate they may have spent on you." 

"It's guided by two factors," he goes on, "and those two factors really remain the same, pandemic or not."

1. How close are you to the couple? Are they lifelong friends? Are they family members? 

The pandemic has (hopefully) not changed your closeness to the couple, Mister Manners says — so that should help guide how much you give now just as much as it did pre-pandemic.

2. What can you afford? 

"That's a question that's got some nuance these days," Mister Manners says, "because as we know, so many people have been furloughed, are out of work, are really down to maybe one income in their households."

If you're financially struggling during the pandemic: "If for any reason, you are feeling that you are financially struggling and you want to support the couple and show your love for them, but don't have the money to do so in the way that you would like, always include a thoughtful card. And in that card, I would specifically say — and don't be embarrassed — 'I love you both so much, and it pains me not to be able to give you more or to give you something super special. As you know, I'm going through a tough financial time right now. However, you're very near and dear to me, and I look forward to the time when I can prepare a wonderful meal for you. We can celebrate together. Or I can give you something that really shows and displays my true love for you.' And that really is the way to handle it."

If your finances haven't changed during the pandemic: "If your financial circumstances have not changed, the amount you give should be identical to what you would give if you were boogying down on the dance floor and enjoying something at a wonderful penthouse hotel or a backyard reception. No difference there. Same amount as you would pre-pandemic."

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