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Flying to a wedding? Pay less for the gift

By Amelia Ross, editor

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Q. If I'm flying to a wedding in the Caribbean, is it okay to spend less on the gift than I normally would due to my travel expenses? -- B., Simpsonville, S.C.

A. It is OK to spend less than you normally would for a wedding gift if you are spending a significant amount to travel to the affair.

While a gift is never required, says WeddingChannel.com deputy editor Sharon Stimplfe, it's always a nice gesture. But expectations are lower for a destination wedding. Even a simple note will do. "If you're traveling great distances," says Stimplfe, "the couple does not expect a big gift."

Even the heir to the great Emily Post agrees you can spend less on a gift for a destination wedding. "Consider giving lower-cost, expressive gifts. You can buy something locally made from the destination or even make something, which can be the most meaningful gift of all, " said Peggy Post spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute and author of "Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, 5th edition."

"You do need to give a wedding gift, however; you probably wouldn't be going to a destination wedding if you were not close to the bride or groom," Post added.

It is an urban myth that you have up to a year to send a wedding gift .A gift is customarily sent before the wedding or shortly thereafter. Some do it as soon as they receive the invitation -- they will have the pick of what is on the registry.

And you don't need to take the gift to the reception. These days wedding gifts are typically sent to the bride, groom or the address on the registry.

It's another urban myth that couples have a whole year to write a thank you note. These notes should be written no later than three months after receiving the gift.

Here's what our readers say

If you have to scrape the barrel to go and are only doing so to witness your friends' matrimonial union, consider the trip your primary present. But if you are using this wedding to get away from it all and plan to extend your trip to hit the beach, then no, you can't cut corners at your friends' expense. -- Carolyn Schmidt, Des Moines

If you care enough about this couple to travel, you should not skimp on the gift. That said, a thoughtful gift does not require a fortune. The "big gift" is your being there. -- David M. Garrett, San Antonio

As a bride who was married in the Caribbean, I didn't expect guests who joined us to bring a gift. In fact, I felt honored that they wanted to come. -- Jenifer Daniels, Charlotte

Yes. Folks who want the wedding of their dreams have to realize that it may not be the wedding of their guests' dreams. -- John Y., Hatboro, Pa.

There are many wonderful gifts that are meaningful but aren't expensive. One kind of gift is your presence. -- Sarah Flynn Erickson, Stone Mountain, Ga.

Talkback: Have you ever attended a destination wedding? If so, did you spend as much as you usually do on the wedding gift? To top of page

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