Guide to Destination Wedding Etiquette

Destinations weddings are becoming more and more popular, particularly for people who want to avoid having huge weddings close to home. Destination weddings can be random, spontaneous, exotic, memorable, but they can also be problematic.

They generally present more of a problem in areas of planning, logistics and etiquette. When travelling is involved, different rules apply, so it is important to get your bearings before getting the wedding planner out. There are a number of items to consider when organizing your destination wedding.

Who pays for what at a destination wedding?

Generally, the bride and groom finance the ceremony and reception, which should include drinks, food, entertainment and decoration.

However, because guests pay such a huge amount in travel expenses to attend your special day, I recommend paying for the rehearsal dinner and one selected activity. This is normally a tourist activity such as a boat trip or a tour of the town. Guests should expect to pay for travel to and from the destination, formalwear and accessories as well as meal and beverages that are not part of the wedding festivities.

There is always the tricky question of guests who cannot afford to go to the wedding due to financial difficulties. While the idea of a marriage in Bermuda can sound incredible, the flights and the cost might not sound so incredible to somebody who is barely making ends meet.

While most couples might want to play this by ear, it is possible to offer to pay some travel expense. But this option could open the floodgates to others who think they should be entitled to travel expenses and a standard set of guidelines might be the best option.

Invitation Etiquette

Invitations should really be send at the very least 3 months in advance. While the minimum can usually be 6-8 weeks, for destination weddings more time has to be given.

If you have sent a “save the date,” then a formal invitation is expected to follow. All the usual details need to be sent such as the locations and the date. It is also helpful to send on the exact location of the wedding when you are having a wedding abroad, such as on a beach, on a lawn or inside a hall.

It is a good idea to include some URLs to information about the location as well as websites that could be used to save money or give tourism information or suggestions on the culture and the surrounding area. It can actually turn into a holiday for many people as they stick around in the exotic location for a few more days after the wedding has ended to soak up the culture.

But there is no need to overload the guests with information. Keep it simple, relevant and entertaining where possible. The same logic applies in terms of who is invited. If children’s names are not on the invitation, then they have not been invited to the wedding.

This brings up another point. Destination weddings are usually held at all-inclusive resorts. Just keep in mind that there are family-friendly resorts, where children can go, and adults-only resorts, which are geared more toward singles and couples. You need to decide what kind of wedding you want to have before you pick a venue.

But afterwards, just be tactful with the wording of the invitations.

Gift Etiquette

For destination weddings, the gifts are usually smaller than what is typically given at standard weddings. This is because there is so much more costs associated with weddings abroad, mainly the cost of flights.

Take the extra cost into consideration and tell the guests that they only have to bring small gifts. And be sure to let your guests know that there is no need to bring bulky items all the way to Jamaica with them. The gifts can be left at the house. If you have a wedding reception at home but a wedding abroad, many people may feel that they do not have to bring a gift.

No day, time or destination will ever be suited to everyone and normally only 50 percent of people invited to destination weddings attend. Be courteous and understanding of this and ensure that your invitees know you understand. After all, the likelihood is they’ll have to spend a lot more than if you were getting married locally.

If you really want all your invited guests to attend your special day, it might be worth your while considering some all-inclusive resorts in far off places like the Caribbean, which have specialty packages for weddings. You could incorporate your guests into the planning process to see if they have the budget to cover their own costs.

Misunderstandings and Mishaps.

Another important point to keep in mind is to let friends know if they are not invited.

Destination weddings are often small and tight. Some may assume that they are invited. Just let them know that it is a small wedding for a select group of people only. Most things are the same for destination weddings as for normal weddings.

But there is also cultural etiquette to be respected. There are differences between how things are done in Dubai, Boston and Moscow and it is always a good idea to look these up and to inform guests to prevent any misunderstandings and mishaps.

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