Gift Giving at Destination Weddings?

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I am heading to a destination wedding in a few weeks and thought it would be appropriate to discuss the topic of gift-giving at destination weddings, and I would love to hear your thoughts.

Previously, I wrote an article comparing the cost of destination weddings to traditional “at-home” weddings, and I discussed which type of wedding might be cheaper. Well, thought I would take on the guests’ perspective this time since I am a guest at a destination wedding (WILL BE TWICE this year! OMG).

No doubt about it, attending destination weddings is friggin’ expensive.

It is traditionally thought to give a gift or money (in a card, how classy!) to cover the bride and groom’s expenses. For example, if it was a traditional local wedding, you would give a gift on the registry or give a monetary gift to cover the cost of your ‘portion’ at the reception and the delicious food you will eat, and a little more.

But for destination weddings that you will likely travel across the world to attend, what do you do?

I think that if the bride and groom are paying for your accommodation in any way, you should still provide a gift that will perhaps attempt to cover the cost of the accommodation.

If you are attending a destination wedding and you have to pay for the rooms yourself, you should still provide a gift, even if it’s small.

I know that you are probably already spending $1000 on the plane ticket and accommodation, but if you spend just an extra $50 on a gift, the bride and groom will appreciate it. The bride and groom are probably stressed out as it is about paying for their exorbitant wedding and they could probably use a little help. In addition, if you show up WITHOUT a gift and everyone else DOES, you will likely end up looking cheap. The idea is to look frugal, yet classy. Hopefully, those two are not mutually exclusive LOL.

Now I need a little help from you

I’d love to hear your thoughts/ feedback on how much of a gift I should give to the two weddings I have coming up in the next year.

First Scenario: BF’s sister

First, it is my boyfriend’s sister and I am not a bridesmaid (I don’t think she has any bridesmaids). The wedding will be VERY small (like may fifteen people or less) and I gave money for the flight to Hawaii (woohoo! Hawaii!) but she is paying for the accommodation. I’m not sure how much the accommodation will cost, but it sounds like it is a two-bedroom suite in a hotel and I’ll be staying with my boyfriend’s parents and sisters.

How much do you think I should give in this case? They don’t need any household items because they already live together, so I was going to give them some money instead.

Here are my costs so far:

$500 for the airplane ticket

$5.50 for that new tax for Canadians heading into the US (hey guys, I thought we were friends??) but I might not have to pay it if it doesn’t go into effect yet, LOL.

Second Scenario: Bridesmaid

She is one of my really good friends and I was invited to be a bridesmaid at her wedding in Thailand. I will be one of five bridesmaids. She is paying for my room at this private villa where the wedding will be held (oh god, I have no idea how much that will cost). This wedding sounds extravagant and it is going to be the party of the century (well, my century, I suppose). There will be fireworks, there will be partying, and it will be epic. Hopefully not The Hangover 2 Epic (no fingers chopped off, thank you very much).

How much should I give in this case? She seems to be doing well for herself and I don’t think money is much of an issue for her. This will be the very first time I will be a bridesmaid and I’m pretty darned excited! She already lives with her boyfriend and does not need any household goods.

Here are my costs so far for this trip:

$650 I used up my RBC Avion points so I could get a discounted flight to Thailand (it would normally cost me $1300)

Readers, what do you think? Have you attended a destination wedding recently? If so, did you give a little somethin’ somethin’ as a gift as well? Girls, any bridesmaid tips for me?


Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals.

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