– Ask Cheryl – Travel, Hotel, and a Wedding Gift Too?

Wedding guests often wonder if they should give the couple a gift even if they must incur travel expenses to attend the wedding.

Dear Cheryl,

I am going to my nephew’s wedding celebration out of state. The couple is already married. I have to purchase a flight and a hotel room, so I’m wondering: am I expected to give a gift also? I feel my gift is my presence at their celebration.


Dear Christine,

It is a long-established tradition that you are expected to give a gift if you are invited to a wedding, whether or not you attend, and even if you must travel to the wedding and pay for a hotel.

However, since the couple is already married, I’m assuming you were not invited to the wedding, but a “wedding celebration” (which is basically a reception). Therefore, you are not obligated to give a wedding gift. Etiquette states that if you are not invited to the wedding but only to the reception, a gift is optional and should not be expected.

The wedding gift is a token of your love and support for the marriage. Gifting is always a choice; you must do what is comfortable for you. In this situation, the gift of your presence is perfectly acceptable. However, you may want to consider your family’s expectations. As the groom is your nephew, you could give a small gift, if your budget allows.

People Also Ask:

1. Do I Still Need to Buy a Wedding Gift for a Destination Wedding?

Yes, you should still give a gift, but you don’t have to give a big one, or bring it with you. Your presence is the best gift at any destination wedding, but you should still send something to commemorate the day. Note that we said, “send.” Pick something from their registry and make it easy by having the gift delivered directly to their home—more info in our article, How to Be the Perfect Destination Wedding Guest.

2. How Much Should I Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Unfortunately, there is no precise amount you “should” pay for a wedding gift or amount of cash you should give. Three factors determine how much you spend: how close you are to the couple, your budget, and what you think is an appropriate gift. And since these things are personal, what to spend can be confusing, but there are guidelines. See my article, How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift? – for our spending recommendations.

3. Can I Invite Someone to my Bridal Shower that I Didn’t Invite to My Destination Wedding?

No. This is one etiquette rule that shouldn’t be broken: shower guests must also be wedding guests. An invitation to a bridal shower, when not invited to the wedding, is quite rude. A bridal shower, requires participants to bring a gift. Your friends and loved ones that didn’t make the final cut may choose to honor you with a wedding gift later, but it’s optional. More info here: Ask Cheryl: Etiquette of Having a Bridal Shower with a Small Destination Wedding Guest List.

4. Destination Weddings – Who pays for What?

Costs for destination weddings are usually shared similarly to any other wedding. Guests pay for their own transportation, accommodations, and meals which are not part of the wedding. Attendants are responsible for their transportation to the wedding as well as wedding attire and accessories. The couple (or their parents) should cover the cost of accommodations for their wedding party. For more information, see Destination Weddings: Who Pays for What?

Other Related articles:

5. Who Pays for the Bachelorette Party?

Bachelorette party costs are shared among the guests, with all the guests pitching in to cover the bride’s expenses. Any payment division is acceptable but should be clearly defined in advance. However, the bride should not request or plan an expensive trip and expect everyone else to foot the bill; she should pay some of the expenses if she’s planning the party. For more details, read our articles, 1st Time Bridesmaid Asks, “Who Pays For the Bachelorette Party?” and How to Plan a Bachelorette Weekend, Not a Guilt Trip.

If you have questions or comments about gift giving, bridal showers, baby showers, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length, and grammar or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations, and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Connected

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.