Your Guide to Destination Wedding Gift Etiquette

And destination wedding gift ideas.
Destination wedding in Key Largo Florida
Photo: Jessica Bordner Photography
emily rumsey the knot editor
by
Emily Rumsey
emily rumsey the knot editor
Emily Rumsey
Assistant Commerce Updates Editor
  • Emily helps maintain and update e-commerce content for The Knot
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Emily worked as a website editor and manager for The Paleo Diet®
  • Emily holds two bachelor's degrees in Journalism and International Affairs with a Chinese minor
Updated Sep 15, 2023
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There's no denying that destination weddings are expensive. Between travel and hotel costs (and purchasing a new vacation wardrobe), it's natural to question if you also need to buy a destination wedding gift. Is spending the time and money to attend the far-flung ceremony and supporting the couple in person enough? We're answering all your questions on destination wedding gift etiquette below. While each couple's expectations are different, if you're in the "guests should always give presents" boat (plane, car or train), we've sourced some on-theme gift ideas that'll surprise and delight.

In this article:

Destination Wedding Gift Etiquette FAQ

So, you've been invited to a destination wedding and are starting to plan for the trip. After your initial questions about travel accommodations and the like, you're probably wondering about gift expectations. Do you give a gift for a destination wedding? If so, what's an appropriate gift for a destination wedding? We've got all the answers below!

Do destination wedding guests have to buy a gift?

Yes, you should buy a wedding gift for a destination wedding. Regardless of how much it costs to be a wedding guest, unless a couple explicitly says otherwise, it's courteous to give a wedding gift. That said, don't feel the need to splurge on a big-ticket registry item after paying for international flights. Just like a local affair, deciding how much to spend on a wedding gift should start with your personal budget. If you're already anxious about travel expenses, it's okay for a destination wedding gift amount to be more modest.

Should you bring your gift to the wedding destination?

No, you shouldn't bring your gift for the couple to the wedding destination unless they have asked guests to do so. After all, neither of you want to pay extra baggage fees. Instead, ship your gift to the couple's home address. (Psst, many registries, including The Knot Registry, will automatically use this delivery option.) Have the gift sent to the couple before their wedding or time it to arrive just after they've returned from their travels.

Is money an appropriate destination wedding gift?

Money is an appropriate gift for weddings near and far. In fact, the gesture is so modernized, today most couples ask for monetary gifts on their registry through cash funds. Newlyweds, especially those who had a destination wedding, will appreciate having a bit of extra cash on hand to spend either on their travels or put towards life at home. Keep in mind, destination wedding gift etiquette when traveling with cash is the same as with a physical gift: don't bring it to the actual wedding. Couples don't want the risk of traveling with a large sum of money (assuming you're not the only one gifting cash). Donate to a cash fund on their registry for a digital transaction or write a wedding check and mail it to the couple.

What if you can't attend the destination wedding?

Even if you can't attend the destination wedding, it's still a nice gesture to send a gift. When couples send out their invitations for a wedding, especially one abroad, they know that not every invitee is going to be able to make it. A gift in lieu of your presence will show them you appreciate the invite and support their relationship, nonetheless. Simply pick out something meaningful from their registry and add a note in the shipment that you wish them all the best and hope you can celebrate with them in person once they're back from the trip.

Does "no gifts, please" really mean no gifts at all?

Some couples planning a destination wedding will write something like this on their invites or wedding website: "No gifts, please. Your presence at the ceremony is enough." They aren't saying this just to be polite. When a couple makes this request, they really don't want anything at all, so you should respect their choice. That said, a thoughtful handwritten card (sans a wrapped present or money, of course) expressing your love, support and wedding wishes is still welcome.

The Best Destination Wedding Gift Ideas

Stop scrolling! The first place to look for destination wedding gift ideas isn't actually the list below, it's the couple's registry. And if they've registered with The Knot, you can use our easy search tool to find and peruse their wish list for the perfect gift. Phew! Now that we got that FYI out of the way, start scrolling again! If the couple doesn't have a registry or the gifts they've registered for are sold out or above your budget, it's okay to shop elsewhere. Think about their hobbies and interests to draw inspiration. Wedding gifts for travelers—like swanky new packing supplies—may be an on-the-nose idea for a couple planning destination nuptials. Alternatively, they may just feel connected to that specific location, so you could give them a personalized gift commemorating their venue. To help point you further in the right direction, we've rounded up some destination wedding-appropriate gifts below.

1. Beach Wedding Personalized Print

Personalized destination wedding prints from Uncommon Goods
Photo: Uncommon Goods

If their wedding is all about the sun, sea and sand, this personalized wall art is just the gift for the happy couple. The retro print features a palm-tree-lined beach and is personalized with the couple's names, their wedding date and wedding location. It comes in two sizes and you can choose to have it unframed or framed. (Psst, there's one for a mountain ceremony, too.)

2. Mountain Charcuterie Board

Personalized charcuterie board with mountain design from Etsy
Photo: CopperFoxCompany

Conversely, a wedding gift for a ceremony in the mountains calls for this charming charcuterie board. The bamboo, cherry, mahogany or walnut wood is carved into a square or round slab—with or without a handle—before being engraved with an intricate mountain range. Underneath are the couple's names, wedding date and wedding destination.

3. Scratch-Off Date Ideas

Adventure Challenge date ideas book
Photo: The Adventure Challenge

This scratch-off date idea book set is perfect for the couple who loves an adventure abroad or at home. The Travel book is filled with 30 challenges suitable for any trip the couple is embarking on, while the Couple's Edition book offers up an additional 50 scratch-off date ideas that can be completed in their hometown. This unique experience gift for couples will mean the fun never ends.

4. Pushpin World Map

Push pin world map from Etsy
Photo: APKhome

Help the newlyweds track all their travels together—starting with their destination wedding and honeymoon—with this pushpin world map. Every time they visit a new location, they can add another colorful pin to the board. Best of all, it's personalized with the title "The adventures of" and their names.

5. Monogrammed Packing Cubes

Monogrammed packing cubes from Mark & Graham
Photo: Mark & Graham

Packing cubes are a game changer and we know the newlyweds will share the same sentiment once they use them. After all, suitcase organization will be especially important when they're packing for the most important day of their life—their wedding! Buy two so each can have their own patterned set or, better yet, monogram each set with their initials.

6. Sleek New Luggage

Take a peek at this registry award winner; An American Tourister two-piece luggage set will give the couple a nice upgrade before they jet off to their destination wedding. The checked bag and carry-on are both equipped with double-spinner wheels, an adjustable steel trolley handle and, the star of the show, an expandable zipper for more space.

7. Bluetooth Audio Transmitter for Two

Bluetooth audio transmitter from Amazon
Photo: Amazon

One more destination wedding gift idea to give the couple before the traveling actually starts: a Bluetooth wireless audio transmitter. What does that mean? Wherever there's no Bluetooth available—like on a plane—the device will connect and transmit audio wirelessly anyway. And it can do so for two devices at a time, so the couple can enjoy the same movie on the plane without sacrificing sound quality.

8. Meal Delivery Service

Meal delivery service from Blue Apron
Photo: Blue Apron

If there's one thing no one likes to do after a vacation, it's grocery shop. The newlyweds will be over the moon to arrive home from their destination honeymoon to a delivery from Blue Apron. The meal subscription service ships them two to four servings of two to five recipes each week, so they can enjoy dinner together without all the planning hassle.

9. Bamboo Bath Caddy

Weddings and traveling can be a bit stressful on their own, so put the two together and the couple will be in need of some R&R. Luckily, your destination wedding gift does just that. This adjustable bamboo bath caddy can hold a glass of wine, a book or tablet and more, so everything they need to unwind is less than an arm's length away. If you feel inclined, pair it with some at-home spa goodies.

10. Destination Candle

Homesick candle that smells like a location destination wedding gift
Photo: Homesick

Fun fact: Scent is closely linked to memory. Gift the couple a candle reminiscent of their destination wedding location. A Paris soiree? The France candle smells like a bustling café with notes of vanilla, coffee, butter and a hint of tobacco. Conversely, a tropical ceremony in the Bahamas calls for notes of marine and citrus. They'll be transported back to that special day every time they light the candle.

11. Video Montage

Video montage from Tribute
Photo: Tribute

Destination wedding gift etiquette says you shouldn't travel with your wedding gift because it adds extra packing stress and fees to you and the couple. This destination wedding gift idea, however, is an exception. Create a group video featuring all the couple's wedding guests using Tribute. Everyone can share their well-wishes for an incredibly sweet virtual gift that doesn't need room in a suitcase.

12. Beach-Inspired Coffee Mugs

Beach-themed coffee mugs from Etsy
Photo: FreckledFlamingoCo

The couple will almost feel like they're waking up at their sandy wedding venue every morning with these coffee mugs. They come in 13 different glass or acrylic designs and are all hand-poured to depict ocean waves crashing onto the shore. You can even have them personalized. They're an unexpected, but clever destination wedding gift idea the couple will cherish for years.

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