Can We Ask for Gifts if We're Having a Destination Wedding? Or a Really Small One? Or Eloping?

Can We Ask for Gifts if We're Having a Destination Wedding? Or a Really Small One? Or Eloping?

Taryn Williford
Mar 5, 2017

Navigating the world of registry etiquette is tough work. To put together The Registry Rule Book, we asked some industry experts to weigh in and answer some of the hardest questions engaged couples might have.

One browse of our Real Weddings section and you'll see that Apartment Therapy is a big fan of doing weddings your way. Destination events, small weddings and elopements are some of our favorite ways that couples tie the knot today—and as beautiful and elegant as these scaled-down weddings can be, they come with their own set of problems. For instance, should you still register for gifts if you're having a small-ish bash? (And what if your guests are already paying a penny to travel and be there with you?)


Yes! Bring On the Presents!

Gifts are just de rigeur for weddings, no matter the type. If you'd prefer that guests don't gift, you can say so. But many guests still want and expect to present you with presents, even if they're making the trek (and footing their own bill) to your destination wedding.

"Destination wedding (or small wedding) gift etiquette is the same as any other wedding etiquette," suggests Vicki Fulop, who co-founded luxury bedding brand Brooklinen with her husband Rich. "There will always be people that want to celebrate the occasion with a gift!"


Yes, To Let People Share in Your Big Day

Every one of our experts agreed that it's OK to register for gifts for your small or destination wedding. In fact, for many of the people in your life who won't be there to celebrate, it gives them an easy opportunity to share in your joy and celebrate your marriage.

"While we would love to have all of our friends, family, and plus-ones attending the ceremony, sometimes the budget doesn't allow for it," said Lizzy Ellingson, founder and Chief Creative Officer at Blueprint Registry. Lizzy suggested that your wedding registry can sometimes act as an extension of your ceremony for the guests who can't be there. "While your new-best-friend-from-pilates won't be able to attend the wedding in Mexico, she would still be able to send a personal gift," she added.

If you do decide to register for gifts for your small wedding, Tabitha Abercrombie of event design company Winston & Main has some advice: Keep it reasonable. "Many of your guests will still want to give a gift, but make sure you have plenty on the more affordable end of the spectrum," she said.


Give Attending Guests an "Out"

The truth is, even though your gift registry has the most unselfish of intentions, it doesn't always come off that way to your guests. The really graceful move? Give your guests an out.

"If it makes you feel uncomfortable to ask for gifts on top of asking for everyone to travel then you should add a line to your wedding website," suggests wedding writer Kristin Joy of Bridentity Crisis. "Something that says your guests' presence is gift enough, but should they wish to purchase something here is where you're registered. That way it's clear you're not expecting your friends and family to do both."

Now you weigh in: Is it OK to have a gift registry if you're having a small or destination wedding?

The Registry Rule Book

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