…wedding etiquette calls for guests to give enough money to cover their estimated meal and drink costs, plus a little extra… Our wedding ran us about $50-$75 per person for food and drink. It is considered customary to pay for about what you think your meal and drinks will cost when you go to a wedding. It will be no less than $50, unless it’s a picnic, and maybe even then.
Jessica Delfino wrote a piece about her cheap wedding that was covered by the Weddings Section of The New York Times. While some of her advice was interesting (get a sheet cake at the market, use Instagram instead of a photographer), her advice to “cover your meal” is woefully incorrect (especially since she used to show up empty-handed at weddings). Most people will probably spend in the $50-$100 range anyway, but to expect your guests to essentially reimburse you for the wedding you chose to throw is foolish. Emily Post will tell you that you give what you can afford (“There is no rule, so it is entirely up to you. Let your affection for the bride and groom and your budget be your guide”). The same advice should be given to couples that want to recoup in gifts what they spend on their wedding: Throw the wedding you can afford.
After all, this is about the commitment two people are making to each other, not a fundraiser.