This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
If you’ve RSVP’d “yes” to a destination wedding but aren’t sure the protocol on gift-giving, don’t panic. The rules are a bit different when it comes to this variety of knot-tying, but a little bit of pre-planning and thought will help ensure that you knock it out of the park regardless of your budget.
Is a Gift Expected at a Destination Wedding?
The couple knows you’ve spent a lot of cash planning and getting to their wedding, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook gift-wise. The Emily Post Institute recommends always giving a gift (but keeping it inexpensive or homemade) unless the invitation explicitly states “your presence is your present” or something similar. Use your best judgment, but always err on the side of generosity if the financial component isn’t a huge concern.
Buying Gifts For A Destination Wedding
Here are a few quick tips on how to handle destination wedding gifting plus a few of our very favorite gifts for the occasion.
- Don’t spend too much. Since the trip to the wedding locale, lodging and other expenses can be costly for the guests, it’s okay to keep it affordable (but thoughtful). But don’t be cheap. Aim for high-quality, sentimental or simple but inexpensive. There’s no predetermined dollar amount. Just stick to what’s feasible and reasonable for you.
- Keep gifts small. Remember that the bride and groom will have to travel back home with all their gifts, which can be a real challenge if flying. If you want to bring your gift to the wedding rather than mailing it before or after, make sure it’s something lightweight and small enough so it fits in a suitcase.
- Ship gifts to the couple’s home. Generally, if your gift is larger than an envelope or a small box, the best course of action is to have it sent directly to the couple’s home. This can usually be done instantly when buying off a registry.
- Consider a group gift. If you want to surprise the couple with something more expensive or special, consider pooling your money with a few other attendees so that you can wow the newlyweds without going way over budget.
- Make it intangible. Services, experiences, a gift card to the best restaurant in town–all of these amazing yet intangible gifts are worthy of your consideration. They take up no or very little space and can suit virtually any budget, making them home runs for destination wedding giving.
Fantastic Destination Wedding Gift Ideas
- A Memory-Igniting Candle—Thoughtful? Check. Small enough to fit in the bride’s carry-on? Check. Under $30? Check. Give the gift of aromatic memories with a candle that smells like the couple’s home state, a beach cottage or love! If you want to give the couple a gift to memorialize the wedding, consider a candle inspired by the wedding destination. Anything aromatic or relaxing is always good, as the couple will likely be spending lots of time de-stressing once the wedding is over. And these kinds of candles are especially appropriate in this situation since they have a distinct wanderlust vibe.
- Gift Card for a Couple’s Massage—If you’ve opted to go in on a gift with other wedding guests, a gift card for a day at the spa or a couple’s massage is the perfect option. It helps the newlyweds kick off their life together mindfully and sans stress, and it’s small enough to fit in an envelope. We recommend backing up any hard-copy gift cards with digital or e-mailed versions so they’re safe in the event that anything gets lost in transit or in the hubbub of the wedding events.
- A Subscription to a Travel Magazine—The couple has opted to spend the biggest day of their life so far in a fun, faraway locale, so it’s safe to say they probably love to travel. Giving them a subscription to a travel magazine, such as Travel + Leisure, Afar or Condé Nast Traveler, will encourage them to build a life together based on what they both love: getting out of Dodge. It also plays into the travel theme by giving them something to read on the plane or train during their next set of adventures.
- A Personalized Travel Map—Couples who love to travel will adore anything that helps them keep their getaway memories alive. A pushpin travel map (available on Amazon, Etsy and a variety of online boutiques) is the perfect gift because it helps them keep track of all the places they’ve been together while simultaneously honoring the theme of their wedding day and serving as a sweet wall hanging in their home.
- A Personalized Poster or Painting—Home décor is always a big win for any kind of wedding gift, in part because you can make it totally tailored to the couple. We love the idea of gifting them a poster, painting or a piece of wall art that honors their unique love story. From posters that show the night sky the day they met to framed maps showing the exact location they first kissed or said “I do,” there’s virtually no limit to this category of gifting.
- Matching Monogrammed Passport Covers—In keeping with the travel theme, consider giving the pair a set of personalized passport covers or luggage tags that they can use as they explore the world together. This is an especially fun gift if either of the newlyweds has decided to change their name and want to show off their brand-new initials as soon as it’s official.
Giving from the Heart
At the end of the day, any gift is one worth giving if it’s given with love! As corny as that sounds, it’s especially true when it comes to destination weddings. Don’t spend too much time overthinking the cost or value of a certain gift, but do spend the time to make sure you knock it out of the park with the budget you’ve got. Trust us, what your present lacks in cost will be made up tenfold in thoughtfulness and personality!
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