Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: Does a Couple Having a Destination Wedding Deserve Gifts?

March 14, 2012  |  
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By Taylor Lea Thomas


I have a friend in NYC. She’s having her bachelorette party in Miami and her wedding in Turks. Do I still give a gift?

Taylor’s Answer:

The simple answer is no. Your presence is the present. However, your friend may not see it that way. If you are being invited to a destination wedding, odds are the couple considers you to be a close friend. Although destination weddings are notoriously expensive for guests traveling to the destination due to all of the costs associated with doing so, it’s also costly and time consuming for the couple too. When they made the decision as a couple to have a destination wedding, they did so knowing that not everyone they’d ideally like to be there will be able to attend because of the cost, scheduling conflicts, etc.  While you are not obligated to give a gift, it would be nice if you did, and here’s a few reasons why, as well some alternative gift options:

1)      You’re not obligated to attend: Regardless of your situation, attending your friend’s wedding is still optional. You were invited and you’ve decided to go to Miami for her bachelorette party and her wedding in Turks & Caicos despite the cost. Unless she’s forcing you, you made the decision to attend on your own, so giving a bridal gift as well is a good idea. Besides, you’re also getting an incredible trip out of it all. You’re benefiting from the experience, too.

2)      Your friendship might be affected:  It shouldn’t but you never know these days. Consider how close of a friend she is to you as well as your financial situation. If she’s someone you’ve known for many years and buying a gift would break the bank, maybe you can speak to her about your situation. Be honest. If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. But if you’re only second guessing buying a gift simply because you don’t feel like spending additional money, realize that while it’s okay to do so, no gift at all could cause problems. She may view your decision as being unsupportive of her marriage and possibly only looking for a vacation.


3)      You would stand out from the rest: Destination weddings typically consist of a very small group of the couple’s closest family and friends. If you’re the only guest to not give the couple a gift, everyone else (including the bride and groom) might notice. You will probably be one of very few people who opted to go that route. Also, the couple won’t forget and it’s not because they cared so much about the gift itself, but simply because you might be the only one to opt out of providing one (and did so without letting the bride know ahead of time).

4)      Give something small or thoughtful: You don’t have to purchase something expensive. As they say, it’s the thought that counts. A tried and true inexpensive gift is a beautiful picture frame. You know for a fact that they will use it. Bed Bath & Beyond offers an affordable variety, and on top of that, you can also use their 20 percent off coupons that can be found on their shopping catalogs and sometimes online.

5)      Offer a service: If you’re particularly good at something, offer to provide a service in lieu of a gift. If you’re good at beauty services (and licensed too), offer to style the bridal party for hair, makeup, nails, etc. If you’re musically inclined, offer to sing a song for the couple. They will appreciate the service(s) you offer, especially since you would be helping them to save money on things they would have ordinarily hired someone for.

6)      Golden Rule: If the roles were reversed, ask yourself how you would feel if a dear friend of yours, who you were kind enough to invite to be a part of your special day, didn’t think to give you a wedding gift. Ask yourself if that would be an issue for you, or if you would understand and be okay with it. If it would be something you would feel a certain way about, then you know what you should do.


Taylor Lea Thomas is an award-winning celebrity luxury wedding planner, and CEO of Elite Soirée, Inc. – the #1 luxury wedding planning company in the world devoted to the art of creating luxury weddings with an emphasis on style! For more information, visit Follow Taylor on Twitter for more tips and advice as you navigate this wonderful milestone in your life of planning your wedding: @taylorleathomas


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