Destination Wedding Etiquette

It doesn’t matter if your dream wedding is set in a picturesque field of sunflowers or the ballroom of luxury resort hotel, a destination wedding is a memorable occasion.  There are benefits to hosting a destination wedding, but it takes a lot of intense planning and some serious organizational skills to pull it off without a hitch.

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Wedding etiquette is tricky enough, but a destination wedding comes with its own set of rules. Weddings are always about the couple, but guests are just as important, especially when they are traveling to attend the ceremony. You’ll want to ensure they have all the information they need way before the big day.

Consider these tips from our wedding experts before your wedding abroad.

Is It Rude to Have a Destination Wedding?

Spend any time at all researching weddings on the Internet and you’ll find the topic of destination weddings is a hot one. Is it rude to ask wedding guests to travel long distances for your wedding? No. It is rude to expect everyone to come when it just may not be an option for everyone.

Unless you are paying travel expenses for everyone on your guest list, some people may not be able to afford it. Even if you send early reminders to save the date, some of your guests may be ill or not be able to get off work. All kinds of emergencies can happen, including financial emergencies. Having a destination wedding isn’t rude, but demanding, pressuring, and expecting any of your guests to be there is.

Florida Couple Wedding

How Much Notice Should You Give Guests for a Destination Wedding?

It takes time to plan for a trip, no matter what the occasion. Applying for work leave, searching for travel deals, saving money, and getting a passport all require months to accomplish. Your wedding guests will be making a considerable effort to attend your special day activities. You want to make it as easy as possible.

Destination Wedding Save the Date Etiquette

A “save the date” card is sent to wedding guests several months before the wedding invitation. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. It can be as simple as a postcard or handwritten note. The only important part is the date.

In the case of destination weddings, they can be sent as early as a year before the official date. Informing your guests eight to 12 months out gives them plenty of time to prepare for a trip.

As soon as the wedding location is set in stone, send out those date savers. Your guests have adequate time to prepare and you will have a better idea of who can make it by the time you send out invitations.

Destination Wedding Invitation Etiquette

The official wedding invitation is an important part of the ceremony. It takes some time and deliberation for the couple to choose the perfect invitation. Keeping that in mind, make sure invitations for a destination wedding are sent out five to six months before the day of the wedding.

If you are planning an international wedding, it is even more important to give your guests proper time to prepare. You may consider extending the dates by three weeks to a month.

wedding couple on a beach

Destination Wedding Etiquette: Who Pays?

While basic wedding etiquette does change as years progress, no one expects the bride and groom to cover all expenses for a destination wedding. This only happens in cases of the very wealthy. It can feel uncomfortable to convey this expectation, but it doesn’t have to. Be clear and concise about what expenses the guests are responsible for and state it in the invitation.

Who Pays for What at a Destination Wedding?

Expenses for a destination wedding aren’t much different from for a local wedding. As society changes, so do weddings and that includes the budget. Parents, couples, and even friends and family may kick in to help foot the bill.

Traditionally, parents or the couple pay for the ceremony and rehearsal dinner. This includes everything from clergy to vendors, to the venue, and flower arrangements.

Guests are expected to pay for their own travel as well as hotel and room expenses. Wedding attendants should pay for their own formal wear, makeup, and grooming.

Make Travel as Easy and Smooth as Possible for Guests

The wedding couple is not responsible for the guests travel expenses, but they should make it as easy as possible for their beloved guests.

Offer a Range of Lodging Options for Guests

A great way to make things easier for guests is to get discounts for hotel rooms. If your getting married at a resort, ask them about securing a group rate on a number of rooms. Another great option is to give guests a list of nearby hotels at varying price points. Some airlines will even give group rates if several of your guests are all flying from the same location. You can also rent a large cabin, vacation home, or Airbnb for guests to cut down on hotel costs.

Taking care of your guests is vital. You want every memory of your wedding day to be special. Unhappy guests can ruin that. Paying for a fun activity can make all the difference. Poolside yoga, scuba diving, or horseback riding can keep guests busy and entertained while they wait for the big event. Give them a chance to turn your wedding into a mini vacation.

wedding on a beach with family

Gift Etiquette for Destination Wedding

An easy way to take some financial load off your wedding guests is to forgo wedding gifts. Let them know on the wedding invitation that their presence is gift enough and you appreciate it.

 Do You Give a Gift for a Destination Wedding?

Destination weddings can be a pricey trip for your guests. If you haven’t told them to skip the wedding gifts, make sure they know it’s OK to send something later. It’s easier than carrying extra baggage abroad for both you and them.

Destination Wedding Shower Etiquette

A destination wedding shower is a great way to celebrate your nuptials with those who can’t make the ceremony. Since gifts are involved, it’s important to only invite people who are also invited to the wedding.

Planning a destination wedding doesn’t have to be stressful. Many couples prefer to leave the particulars to a professional and concentrate on enjoying each other and their big day. If it seems too overwhelming, a wedding pro can help.

If you need a little (or a lot) of help planning the destination wedding you’ve been dreaming of, we’re here to help. Check out the many great destination wedding articles on our site and contact us today to see how we can help.

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