I’ll need a new suit
Many people love a wedding. And the occasion can be a good opportunity to splash out. For guests, it’s a new suit or a beautiful gift for the happy couple. For the bride and groom, there are the big items and smaller ones, such as party favours as a token for loved ones to take home.
We might justify the indulgences and be less sensitive to prices because it is an occasion. There’s little wrong with that, as long as it’s within budget and doesn’t lead to financial distress.
But there are others aspects to splashing out at a wedding, significant birthday or anniversary. It might be peer pressure – the idea of keeping up with the Joneses – or be “signalling”, as it’s known in behavioural economics terms, that we are flush enough to spend, spend, spend. It can pay to be wary of these thinking traps because they play to the emotional side of spending, which could be particularly sensitive on special occasions.
Ask and you want to receive
As guests, it can be difficult to choose whether to select a wedding gift from a register complied by the couple or to think up your own present.
Interestingly, gift giving is the topic of a growing body of academic research. Many studies point to giving from the register as the best option. Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Frank Flynn co-authored one such study and found many married couples have an anecdote about a wedding gift that was off the registry “and totally off the mark”. Recipients appreciated receiving items from their wish list – even though gift givers thought surprises would be appreciated most.