Double Wedding Results in Gifting Dilemma

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Dear Miriam,

My friend and his brother are both engaged, so their parents are throwing a large double wedding. Both sons’ names are printed on the invitation. I have spent some quality one-on-one time hanging out with my friend’s brother, but I’m certain I would not have been invited to his wedding if it were separate. Neither brother has a gift registry and, per Indian tradition — as it has been explained to me — the invitation specifically requests no boxed gifts (as in, cash only). I would like to give a generous amount to my friend, as he and I are very close, but it’s not in my budget to double that amount. Would it be inappropriate to give two cash gifts of different amounts?

Signed,

Doubled Gift Giving Trouble

Dear Doubled,

I hope it’s some small reassurance to know that the depth and variety of wedding gift-related questions has kept advice columnists going for decades. Though your specifics are unique, every such question ultimately comes down to something like, “How much is enough?” and, “Am I doing the right thing?” I don’t think I’ll win any etiquette awards for my approach, but it’s basically always going to be this: Give what you can reasonably afford, and, you’re fine as long as you are a gracious guest.

In your specific case, while I understand your hesitations, it seems clear that you are your friend’s guest first and foremost. You can like his brother and wish him well, but he’s not the reason you’re at the wedding. If you didn’t know him at all, it might be easier to wrap your head around different gifts, so I get that this is complicated. However, I you can comfortably give your friend the amount that feels right and give his brother something less that’s more in line with what you’d spend on an acquaintance rather than a close friend.

I hope no one at the wedding, especially the grooms, will compare gifts afterward. That is way further down on the etiquette ladder than asking for cash. Still, if you remain concerned or uncomfortable, you could consider reducing your friend’s gift so you can give his brother a more equal amount. That’s the only direction I would suggest — not increasing your overall expenses.

Since the wedding will be large, it’s also fair to assume both brothers will do well receiving the requested cash gifts. Yours will not make or break their future homes or your friendship. Be thoughtful and kind and a good guest, and be as generous with your money as feels right to you.

Be well,

Miriam

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