Real Simple asked a panel of experts to offer their two cents.
Q: Must I spend the same (over-the-top) amount on my friend’s wedding gift that she spent on mine?
The founder of the Protocol School of Texas, a corporate-etiquette company in San Antonio
“If she gave you money, it’s in your best interest to give her as close to the same sum as possible, as long as you can afford it. After all, if she wrote you a check for $200 and you give her one for $50, you’ll both feel awkward. Don’t kid yourself into thinking she may not remember how much she gave you. It’s human nature to notice whether someone’s gift is equivalent to our own.”
The author of Bridesmaid on a Budget ($15, amazon.com) and 36 (!) other wedding books
“It depends. If your friend’s wedding requires you to fly to a faraway destination or drive for hours and then stay at a hotel, you shouldn’t feel pressured to match her gift. The vast majority of brides will be grateful that you went through so much trouble to attend the celebration. That said, if there’s little effort involved in attending and you can easily afford to spend what your friend did, go for it. You’ll feel like you’ve done the right thing for your relationship.”
An event planner based in Annapolis, Maryland
“You should be generous—but not necessarily with your money. A unique, thoughtful gift can pack just as powerful a punch as a pricey one. One of the most treasured gifts my husband and I received was from a friend who gave us two beautiful stones that fit together perfectly. They are prominently displayed in our cabinet with the more expensive, but less memorable, china and crystal.”