Destination weddings are fun, beautiful, and generally costly affairs for both the couple and their guests. Regardless of how intimate or elaborate the couple plans their event to be any guests who commit to coming are still committing to pay for the airfare and hotel. Not to mention that it generally means taking off at least one day from work for travel time - sometimes more because, since they're paying for the ticket anyway, they might as well see the area while they're there.
With all of these financial factors, how should you handle it if some of your guests come to your destination wedding but do not bring a gift? Do you still send them a thank you note?Does the reception and the favors you provide really count as a "thank you"? While you need to go with your gut at the end of the day, here are some things you might want to consider regarding thanking your guests.
They may be considering their presence as their gift.
As previously mentioned, your guests are paying a decent amount of money just to come to your wedding. For some guest, they may only be able to swing the cost of coming to your wedding and need to consider that their gift. If you know this is the situation, you should definitely consider thanking them. Especially if you have indicated on the save-the-date, invitations, or even in person that they do not need to stress about the added expense of a present!
They may still hold to traditional etiquette that allows for gifts to be given up to a year after the wedding.
If the cost of coming to your wedding is causing financial stress, they may look toward the leeway older traditions offer and be intending to send you a gift at a later date. There's no way to know this for sure, however, so I would advise that you still thank them just for coming. However, if they do send a gift at a later date, you should also send them a note thanking them for the specific gift. It's much better to cover your bases and feel like you are over-thanking people than to wait around for a possible gift and forget to thank them entirely.
But what if you're putting thank you notes in their welcome bags?
As with the rest of the advice in this post, it is entirely up to you. Some couples may like the idea of writing a personalized thank you note for each guest to receive when they arrive. Since this does not address the potential gifts that you may be receiving over the weekend, however, there are a couple options to consider:
- Put a handwritten, personalized thank you note in each guest's welcome bag and then send a thank you note after the wedding to any of the guests who brought you a gift.
- Instead of putting a handwritten thank you in each of their welcome bags, provide a document that welcomes them, gives brief thank you for coming, and then outlines the plan of events for the weekend. If there are any interesting sites to see, deals on local activities, or places you recommend, you can also draw their attention to these details. After the wedding you can send personalized thank you notes to each of the guests and mention any relevant gifts.
- Don't worry about putting a note in the welcome bags, just send thank you notes after the wedding.
Personally, I'm a fan of option number two. Even though the guests are no where near as busy as the bridal couple, sometimes personalized notes get lost or overlooked and welcome bags occasionally get misplaced or misdirected. Option two ensures that no one is missing out on a thank you note, but everyone has the opportunity to know what's going on.
Isn't the reception and the wedding favors we provide supposed to count as a thank you to the guests?
Personally this has never been my favorite train of thought. I think it can be appropriate when the wedding is local and none of your guests need to travel from long distances. However, with a destination wedding they are more like spending more money to be present at your wedding than your per person reception and favor costs. Because of this, I would say that with destination weddings going "above and beyond" with a handwritten thank you note will go a long way toward making your guests feel appreciated!
For brides not having destination weddings but where some of your guests are traveling long distances to be present, it also wouldn't hurt to send those guests a thank you note after your wedding is over.
Remember, though a handwritten note is still the best way to express your thanks, a thoughtful email or a phone call is still so much better than nothing at all.
How would you handle thank yous for your destination wedding?
P.S. Need some help writing a meaningful thank you note?