We’re headed into the busy summer wedding season, which means many folks will likely be traveling to attend those ceremonies — and in some cases, jetting across the globe.
After all, destination weddings are becoming an ever-more popular way to celebrate that special day. One report says the worldwide market for these events is expected to increase from $23.31 billion in 2022 to $78.90 billion by 2027.
But all that begs the question: If you’re attending such a wedding — and paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on airfare and a hotel stay — are you still obligated to buy the lucky couple a gift?
It’s a question that’s often asked on social media, with many guests freely saying they skip buying anything — or, at the very least, they wonder about the practice.
“So if someone has a destination wedding do they still expect a gift? Like I just spent mad bread just to attend,” one person observed on Twitter.
Another put it this way: “Wondering if couples expect gifts for a destination wedding? Like me flying across the country should be a present.”
““You’re celebrating one of the seminal moments in someone’s life. You shouldn’t be looking for ways to cut corners.” ”
— Jeannie Uyanik, a New York-based wedding planner
Bruce Russell, a wedding planner who focuses much of his business in Europe, adds a couple of caveats to the destination picture. For guests, he says if you’re giving a physical gift, don’t bring it with you to the event — no newly married couple wants to lug a toaster on the plane ride home.
And for the couple getting hitched, he says it can be a thoughtful touch to suggest that gifts aren’t necessary and that the presence of the invited guest is what really matters.
When Ann Ragan Kearns, a New York-based publicist, got married in Mexico last year, she says she didn’t expect gifts from her guests.
“A gift is not mandatory,” she says. “I just truly loved that you decided to join us on our special day.”
Of course, all this discussion begs a larger question: Should couples even have a destination wedding, knowing that it may be putting a financial burden on some invited guests?
Most planners and etiquette pros say it’s a question that has to be thought through carefully. Russell says couples need to really think about whether key people in their lives can attend the wedding — and even speak to them about it — before they lock in a plan.
“These are conversations that need to be had,” he says.