wedding gifts
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Are Destination Wedding Guests Obligated To Bring Gifts?

Destination Wedding Guests & Wedding Gifts. What’s The Deal?

Reader Question: My questions are regarding my recent wedding (10 days ago) which was an incredible learning experience. We had a destination wedding in Vegas and were shocked when 7 groups out of 17 attending did not give a card – never mind a gift. To date, we have received 2 gifts from the 15 or so who declined attendance.

We did not register anywhere because we didn’t really need anything and figured people would either give cash or send something to our home.

My questions are as follows:

1. I thought it was proper to give a gift even if you didn’t attend – but most certainly if you attend the wedding – is this accurate? I know I have been to many weddings and wouldn’t think of ever coming empty handed! Even when not attending – I make sure to send a gift. Am I right?

2. Is there a different set of rules for destination weddings?

3. Should we send thank you cards to all who attended – even if they couldn’t but a $3 card?? My initial thought was yes, but the more I think about it – they couldn’t even buy a card???

4. One person said that they had a full year to buy a gift. I thought that this rule applied to people who could not afford a gift at the time of the wedding (which is certainly not the case here!). This sounds very dumb to me – a full year?

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca:

Gifts should never be expected especially when it comes to a destination wedding or for the encore wedding. After all, you asked people to spend money to watch you get married. This is your day, not theirs. So, it is not viewed as ‘special’ to others as it does to you.

1. Some etiquette experts still believe that an invitation to a wedding is an obligation to give a gift. This is not something I and many like me believe. A gift should be from the heart. However, I believe that if someone attends a wedding, he should send a gift. We shouldn’t expect it though.

2. An invitation to a destination wedding should never obligate someone to give a gift. This is an expense for the guests. We should be sensitive to this fact.

3. No. You would only send thank you cards to those who gave you a gift.

Hopefully you did something special for those who did attend though. It is generous of them to travel to spend this time with you.

4. There is no such thing as a time limit on sending a gift. I don’t know where these silly rules come from, but it is not true. It is also incorrect for some to think that they have a year to send thank you notes. These should be written and mailed as soon as the gifts arrive.

Please focus on what is important. You married the person with whom you want to spend your days. This is the most important element.

How Much To Spend On A Gift For A Destination Wedding?

Reader Question: If I’m flying to a destination wedding in Mexico, is it okay to spend less on the gift than I normally would due to my travel expenses?

As a guest at a destination wedding, it is definitely acceptable to spend less than you normally would for a wedding gift if you are spending money to travel to the wedding itself. Technically a gift is never required but it is good etiquette to give a gift, even if it is small. Importantly, for a destination wedding the expectations are definitely lower. The couple does not expect a big gift when you travel a long way to the wedding, but even a nice card and note will go a long way.

Consider giving lower-cost, really personal gift. You can buy something locally made from the destination or even make something, which can be the most meaningful gift of all. You do need to give a formal wedding gift. Also, because you’re traveling you should probably not take the gift to the destination if you a can avoid it. Wedding gifts should be sent to the bride, groom or the address on the registry.


Guests Shouldn’t Worry Too Much About Destination Wedding Gifts

Reader Question: I’m attending a destination wedding and want to give a gift. What’s acceptable? How much should I spend?

The best thing a couple throwing a destination wedding can do is let guests know that ‘their presence is their present.’ After the plane tickets and hotel most guests would have spent a pretty penny to get to the event itself. It is nice that you want to give a gift, but don’t stress about it too much.

How much you spend is always based on your relationship to the couple, your budget, and what you think they’d like. There’s no price range as everyone’s situations will be different. If you’re invited to a destination wedding, chances are you know the couple fairly well. But with all those travel costs, it’s likely that your gift budget is going to be smaller — and that’s okay. Send a gift, but don’t worry if you aren’t spending what you usually might. Personally, I think many people feel pressured to spend way more than they are comfortable with on wedding gifts in general. If it makes you cringe, it’s too much!”