Destination Weddings: Your presence is not a gift!

by Daniel Post Senning on May 8, 2013

Q: My best friend was married almost a year ago in Mexico and has begun complaining about the people who they have yet to receive gifts from. Is it necessary for the guests to purchase a gift even after spending a lot of money on travel expenses for the wedding?

A: Traditionally, a wedding invitation is associated with a gift obligation. Even with an out-of-town wedding, the traditional responsibilities for a guest is to pay for transportation to and from the wedding, lodging expenses, and a wedding gift. There is no standard regarding the cost of a gift however, and if the guests have a limited budget they may give a simple inexpensive gift. Another option is for several of the guests to join together in the purchase of a gift and give it from the group of them. It’s the thought that counts in this case.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jody May 8, 2013 at 9:21 am

My impression, whether your friend intends this or not, is that she viewed the wedding as a “gift grab” a bit more than “I’m glad my friends could be there.” It’s quite possible that the Mexico trip was an expensive one for many people and those guests viewed their presence as the gift to her. I would agree that when attending a regular (non-destination) wedding a gift should be given, but for a destination wedding I wouldn’t worry so much about the gift as the trip itself could be quite expensive. If I had to choose I might just send a nominal gift and not attend at all.


Abby May 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I totally agree with Jody and been in a very similar situation. I didn’t know anyone else that was going so I wasn’t able to join in a group purchase gift. The destination was expensive and on a Sunday evening, so I had to take extra time off from work. The bride and groom only asked for monetary wedding gift and with my budget it just seem tacky to give too little. Instead I just opt for a simple wedding gift at Bed Bath and Beyond with a gift receipt included. After the wedding I never even heard from the bride or groom again. No thank you. No wedding photos. Nothing.


Meghan May 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I was married in Costa Rica and we clearly outlined on our wedding website that our guests “presence was present enough”. We were thrilled to have anyone that wanted/was able to join us and did not expect gifts from anyone. We sent thank you cards to everyone who attended, whether they gave us a gift or not (and also to those that did not attend but sent a gift), because we appreciated them taking time off of work and all of the travel expenses they incurred to be with us on that day. I know what etiquette says regarding gifts but in my opinion your friend shouldn’t be holding onto negative energy towards people who gave so much to celebrate her marriage.


jordi June 15, 2013 at 9:31 pm

You are a breath of fresh air Meghan! Unfortunately, your view is not shared by many brides because they ARE in for the greedy cash grab!

I am astounded at what couples who are having destination weddings expect of their wedding party and guests.


Kathleen May 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Meghan, you sound like a wonderful bride!


v June 29, 2013 at 10:49 am

Is it appropiate to write a check for the gift?


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