Author Topic: Do you need to give a gift for a destination (and possibly non-hosted) wedding?  (Read 3766 times)

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LifeOnPluto

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... or is your very presence, the gift itself?

The situation: A very good friend of mine is getting married in Las Vegas. We are from Australia. DF and I are invited, and we've decided to go, and make a holiday out of it. We are paying for our own airfares, accommodation, and meals, etc (which is fine - we absolutely do not expect the HC to pay for any of this).

The wedding appears to be very casual - a celebrant is coming to the hotel to marry them. Friend and her fiance will just wear casual clothes. The ceremony will only take a few minutes, and there's not going to be a reception afterwards. The HC, DF, myself, and the other few guests will probably go to dinner after the ceremony, but I suspect we will all pay for our own meals.

My question is, are DF and I still obliged to get a wedding gift? DF reckons we are "off the hook", but given she is a close friend, and this is a wedding, whether it would be rude not to at least give a small gift and card?

(FWIW - several other friends who were invited, but are unable to attend this Vegas wedding, plan to give the HC gifts when they return to Australia). 

gollymolly2

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I think you should always give a card, just so they have a nice written message from you.  But I definitely think destination weddings can often be a good time for "your presence is present enough." Enjoy your trip!

WillyNilly

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Well one never ever needs to give a gift for a wedding. its customary but certainly not required. So no of course you don't need to give one in this case.

But I think you are asking if its normal or common or done... in which case I think a token gift if fine. Perhaps a jar of Vegemite or some other really Australian thing with a bow, or even just buy the HC a celebratory drink at a nice bar. No need for a big gift - you going is a big gift! A card is always appropriate.

peaches

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A wedding gift is to celebrate and recognize the marriage of relatives and good friends - people you care about.

To me, it doesn't matter whether the wedding is large or small, close by or destination, formal or an elopement, a first marriage or a third - if we care about the couple, we give a gift.

That said, given the effort made to attend the wedding, a small or token gift is fine. You can give something clever or personal rather than something expensive.

CakeEater

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I did this recently with my brother's wedding. He and his new wife seemed fine with it, and were very happy that I'd made it. I think most reasonable people are very happy and grateful when guests go to a big effort to attend their wedding.

TootsNYC

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The gift is for the life event. So yes, you technically should get a gift.

(And if you care enough about someone to actually want to attend their wedding, you should be giving them a gift. It's what our culture does.)

No, someone's presence at an event is not actually a present. No matter how much it costs them to attend. The costs are just the way their life works bcs they and the event honorees don't live at the same place. The costs are a wash. (They might influence a gift giver's budget, leaving them less available to spend, of course--but it's not some sort of tit-for-tat.)

(And someone could argue that since you're taking your own vacation during this trip, the travel expenses are REALLY a wash. I wouldn't--I'd just say that travel & hotels are just life, and they aren't a substitute for a tangible good wish--which is what a present is. And I'd also say you can spend $7 if you find something particularly meaningful.)

A wedding gift needn't be expensive, of course. Not for *any* wedding guest, but especially not for you guys in this situation. Because the couple will probably be so touched by your presence, and aware of the expense, and mortified beyond words if you *also* spend a lot on their wedding present.

Fortunately for you, thoughtful things are often less expensive. What sort of thing would they like to have in their home/lives/etc.? if you know them well enough to be at all interested in traveling for their wedding, surely you can come up with something. (Even if it's just splashy wine or coffee--but bonus points if it's something more permanent, like artwork, etc. In fact, you might keep your eyes open for some sort of carving, table linens, or other quality souvenir from the destination, if you can find one that's not too much $ for your budget.)

I am also one of the few people who does *not* regard a card as any sort of substitute for a gift. It's not a gift--it's stationery.
   I also think it's sort of silly to give someone a greeting card when you are standing right there--why hand them stationery, when you can say your message with your own mouth--in a far more personal and powerful way?

I've had people hand me greeting cards at birthdays, etc., and it always strikes me as funny. I recognize what they *mean,* and I sure don't give a fig about any gifts. But I just think it's sort of silly.

And i think handing someone a greeting card at their wedding, even if it's not a big fancy event, just means they now have something (usu. awkward in size) that they have to carry around. And it might have money in it, so they have to be extra careful with it.

Send them a gift to their home when you get back. Something small and appropriate to them. (Or, feel free to send it so it arrives shortly before you all head to the wedding; it'll make them really happy right before the event, perhaps when they're stressed, etc.).


aussie_chick

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I like TootsNYC's idea of a small unique souvenir from the destination where the wedding will be held.
No you are not obligated to get them a gift but to me, that's not because you've already spent a lot going to the wedding, but just simply because you don't have that obligation anyway.
I agree with TootsNYC again though that culturally, we give a gift at a wedding.
Wait until they come home and give them a small gift then. If the wedding is really casual, they may not have a specific wedding photographer so perhaps you could have a really lovely photo taken of you and your DF with the HC and put it in a nice frame and give it to them when they get home.

I know that people can have any wedding they choose and guests have the choice to attend or not but let me get this straight, they're having a wedding in Vegas, inviting people from O/S and they're not having any kind of reception afterwards? No refreshments except those the guests pay for themselves? Did they not expect people to attend their wedding? It seems a little off to me that nothing is being provided for the guests.


Teenyweeny

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We had some friends at our wedding who did almost exactly what you will be doing: came from Oz, and made a holiday of it! I'm sure I wouldn't have cared if they didn't give us a gift, but as it happens, they gave us a card, and some cute cookie cutters.

The whole 'present' aspect of the thing will for sure have been under 15. We were just so excited to see them, we wouldn't have cared if they gave nothing, but their present was nice, and thoughtful.

Basically, it's not required to give a present (i.e. most couples are just so excited when people make the extra special effort to attend that caring about presents would just seem even more wrong than usual), but it's nice, and the present doesn't have to be expensive at all.



CookieChica

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I'm with Toots on the card thing. It's so awkward to take a card from someone in person.

I think a small gift is appropriate. Here's my suggestion (of course, it only works if they celebrate Christmas): buy them a nice ornament for their Christmas tree that says Vegas or signifies Vegas. To start our "married life" Christmas tree, husband and I bought an ornament on our honeymoon and buy one each major trip we take. We've gifted this at destination weddings before and it's been well received. 

Hmmmmm

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I'm with Toots on the card thing. It's so awkward to take a card from someone in person.

I think a small gift is appropriate. Here's my suggestion (of course, it only works if they celebrate Christmas): buy them a nice ornament for their Christmas tree that says Vegas or signifies Vegas. To start our "married life" Christmas tree, husband and I bought an ornament on our honeymoon and buy one each major trip we take. We've gifted this at destination weddings before and it's been well received.

I POD this and what Toots said.

Twik

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Yes, normally, you give a gift to indicate your feelings towards the couple, not as recompense for the invitation.

However, I'm a little  :o at someone who has invited friends from as far away as Australia, and will not even pick up the cheque for a restaurant meal for them to celebrate afterwards. I'd be miffed enough to make my gift a very small one.
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Lynn2000

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Yeah, as with Twik, the setup of the wedding does strike me as a bit odd, if they're not even planning on paying for a single meal for the people who came all the way from another country to attend their wedding. But if that doesn't bother you, that's fine.

I think I would feel odd not giving them anything for their wedding. I do think, as a yes/no question, one ought to give a gift if one attends a wedding; but exactly what and how much it costs are influenced by so many things these days. You're probably spending a few thousand dollars on the trip, right? But if they were getting married next door to where you live, you probably wouldn't give them a gift worth several thousand dollars, so it's not like the goal is to balance everything out.

Actually, I do like cards, with a longish, personalized message written in them--some fond memories of the HC, for example. Sure, I could say those same things in person, but then the moment fades. For me, the written card is something to go back and look at whenever I want. Of course, other people don't like to keep cards no matter what, so it kind of depends on their personalities. In this situation a card like that is my first instinct--personal and warm, but small and easy to pack in their suitcase. Also, if they're getting married in their hotel room, they can accept the card and leave it there before everyone goes out on the town, so they won't have to carry it around all evening.

I also like the idea of photos--you could put together a photo album of the trip for them and mail it to them later. It might make a nice thing to sit on the coffee table that people can browse through, especially if you took the time to capture a lot of fun moments from the event.

Or some other souvenir from the trip, though I would have to think through the logistics first--am I going to buy something in Vegas, take it back to AU with me, then mail it to them? That seems awkward. Or, if I buy it for them right there in Vegas, now they have to carry it back home. And if I can buy it online and have it shipped directly to them, it seems like it kind of loses its shine as something you can only buy in Vegas, you know? But sometimes I think too much about these things. :) Just don't cart a blender or a toaster all the way to Vegas, and then expect them to carry it home! :)
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White Lotus

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I like the souvenir of Vegas gift -- also the cookie cutters mentioned above.  Something small, meaningful, and not expensive, but a nice memory.  Real art, bought from an artist maybe at a street market, is personal, meaningful, often easy to carry around, and fun.  I don't think you have to give a gift, but a set of cactus salt and pepper shakers, with "Vegas" on them, might be their favorite memento of their wedding.  Have fun!

TootsNYC

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Actually, I do like cards, with a longish, personalized message written in them--some fond memories of the HC, for example. Sure, I could say those same things in person, but then the moment fades. For me, the written card is something to go back and look at whenever I want. Of course, other people don't like to keep cards no matter what, so it kind of depends on their personalities. In this situation a card like that is my first instinct--personal and warm, but small and easy to pack in their suitcase. Also, if they're getting married in their hotel room, they can accept the card and leave it there before everyone goes out on the town, so they won't have to carry it around all evening.


We're in agreement--the card is the stationery that holds the written-down expression of your good thoughts. It's still not a gift. It's just a lovely letter written on specialized stationery. And lovely letters are tremendously powerful things.

WillyNilly

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Yes, normally, you give a gift to indicate your feelings towards the couple, not as recompense for the invitation.

However, I'm a little  :o at someone who has invited friends from as far away as Australia, and will not even pick up the cheque for a restaurant meal for them to celebrate afterwards. I'd be miffed enough to make my gift a very small one.

I'm wondering if the couple do, in their minds, intend on taking people out to dinner they simply haven't communicated it because they don't have a firm idea of who/how many are coming and also because they are simply not planners, and its a more off the cuff type situation and they plan to play it by ear... so they just aren't saying anything yet.