You blew your budget just getting there...

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Destination weddings can be a lot of fun because you get a mini-vacation while celebrating the people you love. But they also can be downright expensive. Costs such as flights, car rentals, and hotel rooms have to be factored into your budget along with the usual wedding expenses of new clothes and shoes. So if you're already spending a lot of money just to make it to the wedding, do you still have to give a gift?

Let us first put to rest a popular but incorrect myth concerning wedding gifts, whether they are for an in-town wedding or a destination wedding. You DO NOT have to give a gift that costs the same amount of money that the wedding host spent on the guests. For instance, if the reception dinner was $75 a head, you do not have to purchase a set of dessert plates that cost you $75. Now that we have dispelled that notion, let us move on to the question at hand.

After happily budgeting money to attend the destination wedding, you may find your pocketbook a little bare and wonder if you can skip the gift altogether; after all, isn't your attendance gift enough? And while a wedding invitation should not be viewed as an invoice for a gift, tradition (and because Mama raised you right) maintains that if you attend a wedding, you should send a gift. However, that does not mean it needs to be an expensive gift. First, check out the bride's gift registry for smaller, less expensive items, such as cutting boards or baking dish sets. If you and the bride and groom are especially close, choose a picture that represents your relationship and put it in a pretty frame. Or send a bottle of their favorite wine that they can enjoy either on their honeymoon or when they return to their new home.

Timing is also on your side. You certainly don't want to take the gift with you to the destination wedding (the new couple does not need to worry about how to ship gifts back home), and since you have up to three months after the ceremony to send a wedding gift, perhaps you can wait a few weeks after the festivities until you can purchase the ideal gift.

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You don't have to forgo giving a destination wedding gift simply because you spend money to attend the ceremony, but never let anyone guilt you into spending more money than you think you should. A simple handwritten note expressing your genuine well wishes for the happy couple is usually the best gift of all.

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