Ask Louise: Do I need to give a gift at a destination wedding?

In this new column, Louise Fox, founder of The Etiquette Ladies, answers all your social conundrums and questions about modern manners.

gift box

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I’m going to a cottage resort wedding in Muskoka, which is about a three hour drive from my home in Toronto. Would that be considered a destination wedding? I don’t think it’s standard practice to give a gift for destination weddings, and because it’s already costing us $350 for one night’s accommodation, we really can’t afford to give a wedding gift. If the wedding was in Toronto, I would probably give them a cash gift. What’s the etiquette here? – J.M., Toronto

Dear J.M.,

Typically we consider a destination wedding as one held in an exotic location other than where the couple or their parents reside. A wedding in Muskoka might very well be a destination wedding. But that doesn’t mean you are absolved from giving a gift. The gift is an expression of your wish for the couple’s future happiness and to help them get started in their life together. How much should you spend on the gift? There is no set amount you should spend; you spend what you can afford to spend. As with choosing any gift, consider your own financial means, your relationship with the couple, how long and how well you know them and how much help they need in furnishing their household. The latter will be particularly relevant if the couple has been living together for some time or have been previously married. If you are a very close friend or relative you would probably spend more on a gift than another person who has known the couple only a short time, but it is still dependent on your financial situation.

By putting some thought into your gift choice tempered with common sense there are a few things you can do to lessen the pinch on your pocket book. Consider redeeming loyalty points on a credit card to purchase a gift. Check the couples gift registry and chip in with another guest to purchase a gift. Give a DIY gift or family heirloom that would be meaningful to the couple. Accompany your gift with heartfelt wishes for the couples future life together.


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Louise Fox, recognized as Canada’s Etiquette Expert, is the owner of The Etiquette Ladies and She has over 20 years experience in hospitality and special event planning industries, and is Director of Eastern Operations of Civility Experts Worldwide and Certification Panelist and Master Trainer for the International Civility Trainers’ Consortium . She is a frequent guest on Breakfast Television, Entertainment Tonight, MTV, Business News Network, Global News and many others.