Destination Wedding Etiquette

You’ve been invited to your friend’s wedding, and you can’t wait.  Then, you see it is a destination wedding.  There is going to be the cost of airfare, hotel, transportation, and food.  Then, there is the gift!?  Do you need to give something or not?  What is the etiquette for gift giving at a destination wedding?

According to a 2016 survey conducted by The Knot, 49% of all couples had a “destination wedding.”  A destination wedding is one that is held at least 200 or more away from their hometown.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. More and more budget-savvy couples are forgoing the often-overwhelming expense of a local ceremony and reception in favor of exchanging vows in memorable locations.  In the mainland U.S., the top locations for destination weddings are Florida, California, and Nevada, while couples looking for an even more exotic spot are most likely to choose the Caribbean, Mexico, or Hawaii. Because these are popular vacation locations as well, attending a destination wedding as a guest takes some forethought.

After all, why bother with decorations when a Caribbean sunset will do the trick? However, while destinations are often the ideal solution for brides and grooms, these getaway trips can raise financial concerns for guests.


If you’re invited to a destination wedding, there are many elements to consider. Can you afford the flight? Is there a minimum night stay at the resort? Many wedding-friendly hotels require that guests stay at least three to four nights, especially during the busy season. If the wedding is an adults-only affair and you have children, will you be able to find childcare or bribe their grandparents? Do you have enough vacation time at work? Make a list of possible expenses and decide if it’s even feasible for you to go.

If you can’t, and there are no plans for an “at-home” reception, feel free to send a gift (in the standard amount) when you post your RSVP. If there are plans to celebrate with friends and family after the wedding abroad, you can wait until you receive the invitation before you start picking out the perfect wedding gift.


Do you need to give a gift at a Destination Wedding?

If you are able to attend, most experts agree that since you’re already spending money to travel to a destination wedding, it’s okay to spend less than you normally would on a wedding gift. Some couples even explicitly tell guests not to buy gifts if they’re spending money on travel and accommodations.

If a card simply won’t do, use your friend or family member’s destination wedding as an opportunity to get creative. DIY wedding presents can be deeply meaningful. Use your skills to stitch keepsake pillowcases or create a one-of-a-kind art print for their home. Pick up something locally made that serves as a special reminder of their big day – just make sure it’s an item that can be easily packed into a suitcase or that you’re willing to haul (or ship) home for them.


Read More:

Bridesmaid Gift Giving Etiquette

Wedding Gift Giving Etiquette

Bridal Shower Gift Giving Etiquette

Bachelorette Party Gift Giving Etiquette

Engagement Party Gift Giving Etiquette

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