Wedding Guests Rethink Gift Spending

The recession has some people getting creative about how to offer their congratulations.

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It's wedding season, which means guests are faced with the often confusing question of how much to spend on wedding gifts. The recession has only made the issue more complicated. With guests trying to keep their own budgets under control, they sometimes feel reluctant to shell out $100 or $200 for a newlywed couple, but they also know that couple might need their financial support more than ever.

According to WeddingChannel.com, friends spend an average of $116 per gift, and family members spend $211. (For bridal showers, friends spend an average of $61 and family members spend $98.) "The closer that you are to the couple, the more you'll spend," says Charli Penn, managing editor of WeddingChannel.com.

But there are ways to minimize those costs without feeling like a cheapskate. Penn says guests who can only afford $20 or $30 can give gift cards to the store where the couple is registered for the couple to put towards a bigger purchase. They can personalize the gift card by making it focused on something they know the couple enjoys, such as going to the movies or getting coffee. Another option, Penn adds, is purchasing an item such as a wine bottle opener and pairing it with the couple's favorite bottle of wine. If you're giving a cake stand or mixing bowls, she suggests including a card with your favorite cake recipe.

As for the couple getting married, Penn warns against asking for cash. "Cash is crass. It's really tacky. It's just not something you should ever do," she says. But if you really want some extra funding for your honeymoon or some kind of experience, such as a cooking class, you can use WeddingChannel.com's honeymoon or life experience registries to allow your guests to contribute amounts towards those activities.

Is wedding season straining your budget, because you're getting married or attending celebrations? If so, share your money-saving tips below.