The “kamakesef” formula revealed: Calculate the wedding present’s amount

This post was written by eli on March 30, 2009
Posted Under: Internet,miscellaneous,Software


An Israeli website, “Kama Kesef” (כמה כסף in Hebrew, meaning “how much money”) is a neat web calculator telling how much to give as a money present in weddings and other events. When I realized that I’m far from being the only one using it to decide what sum to write down on the cheque, I thought it’s time to investigate how the thing works. It turned out, that it’s quite simple, if you’re good in basic percent calculations.

Below is the procedure for making this calculation, as in March 2009. It’s expected to be updated from time to time, as prices change, of course. Using the website is easier, of course, but knowing what’s behind it can give an insight about Israeli social values. That said, one should remember that the calculator is offered by a wedding portal, and is therefore far from being a neutral source. After all, the wedding budget depends on the expectation from the money presents.


The procedure consists of seven stages. The first stage establishes the basic sum, and the other adjust it according to different criteria, as chosen by the user of the calculator. I will detail those stages in percents in most cases. If you want to follow the original procedure, don’t just sum up the percents. Rather, for each stage adjust the result from the previous stage. Also, note that each stage contributes a single factor or a single percent change, or no change at all. If more than one criterion matches, pick the one that matches best (for each stage, of course).

So ready? Let’s start.

Stage #1: What kind of event?

First we establish the initial amount. For a wedding, we start with 240 NIS. If it’s a Bar-Mitzva, Bat-Mitzva, Brit, “Brita” or a second wedding (!), it’s 160 NIS. A “hena” ceremony is 120 NIS. Birthdays, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, and house-warming parties start this calculation with 100 NIS. And this is only the start…

In case you wonder, 240 NIS are grossly 60 USD or 40 Euro. When writing this, of course.

Stage #2: How many invited?

Most Israelis will not count the number invited, but the number arriving. Anyhow, if you come alone, stick to the initial amount. If you’re a couple plus children, double it. A couple alone should multiply by 1.8, but a parent and child should multiply by 1.3. Three adults (only) multiply by 2.5, four adults multiply by 3.2. If a child arrives with no parents, multiply by 0.87.

Stage #3: Relation

Being close to the married couple is expensive, we all know that. We start from the amount we got in the previous stage, and change as follows: If you’re the brother or sister, pump it up by 70%.  Nieces and nephews go up by 50%. Grandma and grandpa raise by 35%. Cousins add 23%, 2nd order cousins, aunts and uncles get away with 20% more. Distant relatives reduce by 10%, and the parents? They reduce 9%. After all, they pay for the wedding anyhow.

So much for the family. What about friends? If you’re THE closest friend, you’re like a brother, so you go 70% up. “Just close friends” raise by 50%. Distant friends, as well as sons and daughters of those being friends with the couple, don’t make any adjustment on this stage. Neighbours and coworkers reduce 5%.

Israel’s social culture in a nutshell.

Stage #4: Your occupation (or income)

At this stage, the user of the calculator picks either occupation or an income estimate. It’s not clear whether the latter is gross or net, but it looks like it’s net salary.

Anyhow, those who consider themselves plainly “employed” or “self-employed” jump to the next stage. The others take the amount they got in stage #3, and alter as follows:

If you’re a hi-tec worker, raise by 3%. Students and those “in financial difficulties” (?) allow themselves to drop 10%. Pensioners drop 11%, soldiers drop 20%, school children drop 25% and unemployed go down 30%. In the calculator you can only choose one category, so unemployed students in financial difficulties will have to do with only one discount.

Alternatively, you can pick your monthly salary: Those making 25000 NIS add 20%. If you get 16000 NIS, raise by 8%, for 12000 NIS raise by 5%. People making 8000 NIS will not change the amount on this stage (does it mean that the average employee in Israeli makes 8000 NIS?). Finally, the poor ones making 4000 NIS a month pay 15% less, and those making 2000 NIS a month (which is worse than being unemployed?) cut down 20%.

And a slightly bizarre option says, that if you’re Bill Gates, multiply by 6.

Stage #5: Where does the event take place?

If it’s in a hall, just go to the next stage. If it’s “the place”, raise by 5%. A garden or hotel will add just 1% to the sum. If it’s a Kibbutz, drop 5%. If it’s in a restaurant or more than 2 hours to drive, it’s 7% down. Those doing it in their own garden or home lose 10%. And if you can’t arrive, it’s 25% down. Now show me an Israeli who will send money to a wedding not attended.

What’s interesting about this stage, is that even though the calculator is hosted by a wedding portal (and hence with a clear interest) expensive places don’t get a significant boost here. This criterion takes the guest’s side, which is “if they picked a fancy place, why should we pay for it?” (My Polish genes stand out)

Stage #6: Winter or summer?

Almost done. We now take the amount found in stage #5, and give it a slight adjustment to compensate for the well-known fact, that weddings during the summer are more expensive. So if the wedding takes place during May to September, add some 10%, and also if it falls on Lag Ba’Omer (a Jewish holyday which is very popular for weddings), which is usually in this time span anyhow. April gets a raise by 5%, and March by 3%.

Otherwise, keep it as is.

Stage #7: Which weekday?

It’s well-known that weddings on Thursdays are best, because the guests can stay longer, as most of them don’t work on Friday. So Thursdays raise Stage #6′s amount by 10%. Tuesdays boost it by 5%. All other days, including these fancy Friday-noon weddings remain unchanged.


Despite the amount of details, it all boils down to a simple calculation. Beyond the immediate practical use of this formula (which is best exercised through the website) I think that this simple procedure is rare case, in which cultural values can be so directly evaluated with simple math.

And whoever or whatever it is you’re going to celebrate: Mazel Tov!

Reader Comments

Very nice post, it will help alot in planning their budget and aligning the things. Thanks for sharing, every body has the right to celebrate their wedding in a grand manner but one should have the idea of their pocket too..

Written By Golda Peres - Wedding Dresses Designer on November 17th, 2010 @ 20:43

It’s a sad fact that Israelis do these calculations when putting on and attending simchas. People should give what they deem fair, and plan a simcha and invitations to celebrate as they like and can afford. The gifts should be to help the couple set up home, not to fund their extravegance.

Written By Simon on August 23rd, 2011 @ 11:32

The bride is a daughter of a cousin

Written By tova sadan on April 28th, 2014 @ 17:21

ahhh – love it!!!

Written By dvora on September 19th, 2015 @ 23:52

It came out even cheaper that I intended to allocate to this wedding. Thank you!

Written By Masha on July 1st, 2017 @ 17:45

This. Is. A post. From 2009.

And it says so.

I really hope the last comment was a joke.

Written By eli on July 1st, 2017 @ 18:57

Is this available in an English version?

Written By Carol Gottesman on June 3rd, 2019 @ 20:00

Don’t know. I’m quite surprised it still exists in Hebrew, actually.

Written By eli on June 3rd, 2019 @ 20:04

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