The Complete Guide to Giving Gifts at Destination Weddings

Destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular, allowing couples to tie the knot in a beautiful, exotic location.

However, they also come with their own set of etiquette questions – namely, should you give a gift if you attend a destination wedding?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about giving gifts for destination weddings.

Should You Give a Gift at a Destination Wedding?

The short answer is yes, you should absolutely give a gift if you attend a destination wedding. While the trip itself may be pricey, a small token of congratulations is still expected. Opt for something modest from their registry or give a monetary gift. Even a heartfelt card is appropriate. Ultimately, focus on celebrating the couple rather than the cost of attending. Giving a gift shows them you care, no matter how far you traveled to be there.

Gift Etiquette and Expectations for Destination Weddings

When it comes to giving gifts for destination weddings, it’s important to understand etiquette and expectations. While you should absolutely give a gift, couples understand the costs involved with travel and accommodations. Smaller gifts are perfectly acceptable.

Focus on what you can comfortably afford after the expenses of attending. Cash gifts are common, even in modest amounts like $50 or $100. If you can, choose something special from their registry that fits your budget. Handmade gifts also make thoughtful options if you have crafty skills.

Ultimately, your presence at a faraway wedding carries more meaning than an expensive gift. Find a balance between generosity and your own costs. Discuss in advance with other guests to avoid duplication. Most of all, emphasize celebrating the couple over meeting a particular gift value.

Creative Gift Ideas for Destination Wedding Guests

Creative Gift Ideas

Photo: Canva

Finding the right gift for a destination wedding can be tricky. While cash gifts are always appreciated, you may want something more personal. Here are some creative ideas to consider:

A framed photo of the couple from the wedding location makes a thoughtful memento. Or, get a set of matching coffee mugs or towels printed with a custom design featuring the wedding date and location.

For a beach wedding, give personalized sunglasses or a beach tote with their names. Or assemble a basket of sun protection like hats, sunscreen, and lip balm.

Another fun idea is a basket of local treats and souvenirs from the wedding destination. You can include snacks, candy, shot glasses, magnets, or postcards. It allows the couple to relive memories from the special location.

If you have artistic skills, handmake something like a painting or piece of pottery depicting the wedding locale. Or, put your cooking talents to use and make homemade jams, baked goods, or other edible treats.

With a little creativity, you can come up with a thoughtful gift within your budget that celebrates the wedding destination. Focus on personalization and choosing items they will treasure.

How Much to Spend on a Destination Wedding Gift

Figuring out how much to spend on a gift for a destination wedding can be tricky. Here are some tips to help guide your budget:

  • Consider your relationship with the couple. If you are a very close family or at a wedding party, plan to spend more on a nice gift. For casual friends or plus-ones, a smaller gift is fine.
  • Take into account the costs associated with attending the wedding, including travel, lodging, attire, and more. It’s okay to scale your gift back a bit to offset these expenses.
  • Find out if the couple is registered for gifts. While less common for destination weddings, this can give you a good idea of their preferences and price points.
  • For a close relative or wedding party member, plan on spending at least $100-$200 on a gift. For a more casual guest, $50-$75 is often appropriate.
  • If giving cash, the amount can vary greatly depending on your relationship. Consider giving at least enough to cover your headcount for food and beverage costs.
  • Handmade, personalized, or sentimental gifts are always appreciated, regardless of the spend amount. Focus on making it thoughtful.

The most important thing is choosing a gift within your means that celebrates the couple’s special day.

Shipping and Delivering Gifts to Destination Weddings

Getting a gift to the couple for a destination wedding can take some extra planning. Here are some tips to make it go smoothly:

  • Ask the couple if they will have a gift table at the wedding and if so, what their plan is for transporting gifts home. This can determine if you need to ship directly or bring it yourself.
  • For a domestic wedding, you may be able to ship the gift to the hotel or wedding venue ahead of time. Call them to arrange delivery and ask for gift storage.
  • Find out when the couple will return from their honeymoon so you don’t ship to their home too early. Time it to arrive 1-2 weeks after they are back.
  • Bringing the gift yourself? Research TSA rules on wrapped gifts in carry-on vs. checked baggage to avoid issues.
  • Using a gift delivery service? Price compares USPS, FedEx, UPS, and others for the best rate. Insure valuable gifts.
  • For international weddings, customs fees may apply for shipped gifts. Mark as a gift and check regulations.
  • If totally unsure about logistics, giving a post-wedding honeymoon gift or cash are good option requiring minimal planning.

With some savvy planning, you can ensure your heartfelt gift makes it to the bride and groom no matter where they tie the knot.

Cash Gifts: How Much Is Appropriate for Destination Weddings

Cash gifts are a popular option for destination weddings. But how much should you give?

Consider your budget first. Don’t feel obligated to break the bank. Give what you can afford.

Think about your relationship with the couple. Close family and bridal party members may give more generous gifts than distant cousins or coworkers.

Take into account if you’re also paying for travel and lodging. It’s okay to scale your gift back a bit if your total wedding costs are high.

Research typical gift amounts. $100-$200 per guest is common. Bridal party members may give $200-300+. Close family can give more.

For high-end weddings, gifts in the $300-$500 range are not unusual if you can swing it.

If giving as a couple, you can increase the amount to $200-400+ depending on your closeness.

Ultimately, give what feels right for your relationship. Don’t go into debt over it. A heartfelt card also goes a long way.

Unique Gift Experiences for Destination Wedding Couples

Looking for a memorable gift for a destination wedding? Experiential presents can be a thoughtful option.

Consider giving the couple an activity at their destination. Things like snorkeling tours, cooking classes, or spa treatments let them make special memories.

Help the newlyweds relax after the wedding with a couples massage. Add in hot stone or aromatherapy for a luxurious treat.

Book a romantic sunset sail, wine tasting, or horseback riding excursion for two. Adventure gifts create unique shared experiences.

Surprise the couple with a gift certificate for a fancier restaurant at their resort. Let them splurge on a gourmet meal.

Upgrade their honeymoon lodging with a bungalow overwater or a suite with a private pool for ultimate indulgence.

Pay for the newlyweds to swim with dolphins, go snorkeling with sea turtles, or have a beach bonfire dinner for two. Experiential gifts make travel extra special.

Personalize it with a note sharing why you chose that particular experience. A heartfelt sentiment makes the gift even more meaningful.

Asking the Couple if They Prefer Gifts at Destination Weddings

Before picking out a present, it’s best to ask the bride and groom if they want gifts at their destination wedding.

Some couples may prefer cash to help fund the trip or honeymoon. Others may want contributions to their new home or future plans.

If the wedding website doesn’t specify gift preferences, reach out to the couple directly. A quick call or text is better than guessing.

Ask in a casual, friendly way: “We’re so excited for your wedding! Are you looking for any particular gifts for your destination wedding celebration?”

The couple may say physical gifts are welcome, or they may request no presents at all. Respect their wishes either way.

If the bride and groom say gifts aren’t necessary, contribute to experiences instead. Offer to treat them to a special honeymoon dinner or future anniversary trip.

Being considerate about gifts shows the newlyweds you care more about their happiness than following tradition. That’s the best gift of all.

Factoring in Travel Costs When Giving Destination Wedding Gifts

Attending a destination wedding is an investment. Before picking out a gift, consider your own travel expenses.

Airfare, accommodations, food, and activities all add up. Be mindful of your budget limitations.

The couple likely understands guests are spending more just to be there. An elaborate gift may not be necessary or expected.

If your budget only allows for something small, a heartfelt card expressing your happiness for the couple will be appreciated.

For close family or wedding party members, a larger gift may be customary. But there are creative ways to give meaningful gifts on a budget.

Offer services or handmade items as your gift – anything that shows thought and care for the newlyweds.

Contributing to their honeymoon or future plans is also valuable. Each dollar goes further when combining gifts.

The couple will care most that you made the trip to celebrate with them. A modest gift given with love is still a wonderful gesture.

Gift Etiquette if You Cannot Attend the Destination Wedding

Missing a destination wedding can be disappointing. Though you may feel obligated to send a gift, etiquette says you do not have to.

A heartfelt card explaining why you cannot attend is plenty. Close family or wedding party members may still opt for a small gift.

If you were invited but declined due to other commitments, send congratulations. There is no need to justify your absence.

For those who cannot afford the travel, be honest on a personal note. Financial constraints are understandable.

If you truly wish to give a gift from afar, customize it to the couple’s plans and interests. Contribute to their honeymoon or future dreams.

Gifts are optional, but taking a moment to congratulate the newlyweds shows you care. Thoughtful words in a card are more valuable than any registry item.

The couple will appreciate your well wishes, even if you cannot be there to celebrate in person. Stay connected after the wedding.

With understanding and open communication, not attending a destination wedding can still strengthen your bond with the bride and groom.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do people still give gifts at destination weddings?

Yes, it is still customary and polite to give a gift at a destination wedding, even though the travel costs are higher. The gift amount may be adjusted based on travel expenses.

How much do you gift at a destination wedding?

A good rule of thumb is to give at least enough to cover your plate at the wedding. For a destination wedding, $100-$200 per invited guest is an appropriate gift amount.

Is it rude not to give a gift to a destination wedding?

It is generally considered rude to attend a wedding without giving a gift unless you have extenuating financial circumstances and have discussed it with the couple ahead of time. Give what you can afford.

What is proper etiquette for a destination wedding?

Proper etiquette includes RSVPing promptly, giving an appropriate gift, dressing respectfully for the location, and thanking the couple for including you. Adjusting your gift for travel costs is acceptable.


Destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular, but traditional etiquette still applies. It is standard to give a wedding gift, even if travel costs are high. The gift amount can be adjusted within reason. Discussing finances with the couple is recommended if you cannot afford a gift. With proper communication and respect, you can follow etiquette, celebrate the couple, and enjoy a destination wedding. The key points are that gifts are still expected at destination weddings and you should give what you can afford, keeping in mind travel expenses.

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