Your Wedding Gift Dilemmas Solved

When it comes to giving gifts to the bride and groom, many of us ask ourselves the usual questions, "How much should I spend? Is it acceptable to give cash? Is it OK to buy gifts not on the registry?"

It can be confusing, but on "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," Alison Bernstein, contributing editor of shared the answers to these common questions for gift givers.

How much should you spend on a gift?
Guests spend an average of $60 to $120 on a wedding gift, depending on their relationship with the couple, according to and 2009 Registry Study.
The bride and groom, on the other hand, generally expect: Friends: $70, Family: $129, according to and 2009 Registry Study.
A good rule of thumb to determine what to spend is based on your relationship to the couple (if you're really close, the more you should gift) and your overall budget.

Is it ever OK to gift money?
If you know for a fact that the couple would like to receive cash as a wedding gift, then it's OK to consider that as a gifting option.
Plus, depending on the couple, where they live and their culture, giving cash can be considered quite common (i.e. in the Northeast and Italian, Jewish and Chinese cultures, cash is common). However, in other cultures, giving cash can be considered gauche.
One idea we love though? Why not personalize a "cash gift" by combining it with a small gift from the couple's registry?

Do you think it's best to stick to the wedding registry when buying a gift?
According to and 2009 Registry Study, nearly 70 percent of couples strongly prefer receiving gifts from their registry.
Selecting a gift from a couple's registry is the safest and easiest route to getting a couple something you know they'll love. If a couple has set up a registry, then why not get something off the registry you know they want?
You might feel like it's impersonal, but remember, they put this on their registry because they want it! So, stick with the couple's wedding registry!

But what do you do if there's nothing left on the registry that you'd want to give? For example, if everything's really expensive, ugly or inexpensive?
Couples will generally register for a variety of gifts at different price ranges. In fact, couples don't even expect an expensive gift! According to to and 2009 Registry Study, 35 percent of couples said that the economy affected what they registered for.
So your best bet is to either "upgrade" a gift or to opt for a group gift.
When "upgrading" a gift, you can pair a less expensive gift on the registry with something really personal to the bride and groom. For example, if you know the bride loves chocolate chip cookies, include a package with a set of mixing bowls she registered for. Or if she loves to bake, pair a cake stand set with a box of dessert recipes.
When going in on a group gift, just join a few friends to buy the bride and groom a gift that's more substantial than you typically couldn't afford. For example, if they registered for a wine rack, fill it up with bottles of the bride and groom's favorite wines.