02/26/2014 12:22 EST | Updated 04/28/2014 05:59 EDT

Sticky Situation: Should You Bring a Gift to Destination Weddings?

Sticky Situation:

Hi Julie,

My question is a tough one. I've asked it to a few friends and I'm getting different answers back.

I'm going to a very good friend's wedding this upcoming Saturday in Varadero, Cuba. The wedding is at an all-inclusive resort, which will give us much-needed sunshine, but it is at a very expensive five-star resort. I'm in the wedding party.

There was no gift information on the invitation, but the wedding shower invitation stated, "Gift cards from their favourite store would be appreciated."

What should I do: offer a gift card, offer nothing at all, or give a small token gift to the bride, my friend?

Thanks for answering me quickly!


First of all, I am happy to read that the soon-to-be-married couple observed an often-neglected wedding gift etiquette guideline: "no gift requests should be made on the wedding invitation." The shower invitation is the right place to mention gifts. Kudos to them!

Also, for the sake of our readers, according to traditional wedding etiquette it is the responsibility of the wedding party and all guests to pay for their travel, accommodation and attire to the wedding, even if very expensive.

In the event that one cannot afford to participate, although very difficult, the proper thing to do is to decline the invitation and being in the wedding party. At that time, the couple can then decide to help or pay all of the attendant's fees.

The unspoken tradition of a wedding invitation contains a gift-giving obligation. Every wedding invitation requires a gift. Even if you choose not to attend a wedding, traditional wedding etiquette dictates that you still have to offer a gift.

In the case of destination weddings, the bride and groom may spread the word that no gift is required.

Since you are in the wedding party, a few days away from the nuptials and you have not heard: "Your presence is present enough" from your friend, that is certainly not your case. Hence, my recommendation is for you to offer a gift card to the couple.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no set rule or magical formula for the appropriate gift amount. As with all wedding gifts, consider your relationship to the couple, your feelings for them and foremost your budget.

In the case of a destination wedding, it is perfectly acceptable to factor in your total expenses to decide on the amount that you will spend on the couple's wedding gift.

Note that the one-year allowance for wedding gift giving is a myth, but it is never too late to send a wedding gift. My recommendation is to offer wedding gifts as soon as possible.

It is always best to send or hand deliver a gift before the wedding. For destination weddings, avoid bringing wedding gifts abroad, even gift cards, as they could be cumbersome or get lost.

In the end, a wedding gift is about love and support. Give with your heart and respect your budget.

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