Destination Wedding Etiquette: A Guide For Couples & Guests

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Have you ever dreamed of getting married on a tropical island, a historic city, or a scenic mountain? A destination wedding is a magical way to celebrate your love and create unforgettable memories with your closest friends and family. However your guests will be traveling to an unfamiliar location, and there are etiquette rules that should be followed to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

That’s why Viva Wedding Photography will provide you with the best information on destination wedding etiquette for guests and couples. You don’t want to miss this!

1. Is It Rude to Have a Destination Wedding?

If you dream of tying the knot in a faraway place, don’t worry about being rude or selfish. As long as you follow some basic wedding etiquette for destination wedding, you can have a destination wedding that everyone will enjoy.

First, let them know as soon as possible, so they can plan ahead and save up. Second, choose a date and a place that won’t clash with other important events or holidays. Third, accept that some people may not be able to come, and don’t take it personally. A destination wedding can be a wonderful way to celebrate your love with those who can make it, and you can always find creative ways to share your joy with those who can’t.

2. Destination Wedding Etiquette: Who Pays

2.1. Who should pay for the travel and accommodation costs for a destination wedding?

One of the main challenges of planning a destination wedding is deciding who should pay for the travel and accommodation costs of the guests. This is an important aspect of destination wedding party etiquette, as it can affect the guests’ willingness and ability to attend the event. Some couples may choose to cover the cost of some or all of these expenses as a way of thanking their guests for attending their big day. However, this is not a requirement, and the guests should respect the couple’s budget and preferences.

On the other hand, the couple should also make sure to inform their guests about the travel and accommodation options, and try to arrange group discounts or deals with the vendors and the hotels. By doing so, they can help their guests save money and enjoy their destination wedding more.

Destination wedding etiquette: who pays
Destination wedding etiquette: who pays (Image: Getty Images)

2.2. Should the couple cover some or all of the costs for their guests?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as different couples may have different preferences and expectations for their ceremony and wedding reception. Modern weddings typically have more financial flexibility and shared responsibilities, as opposed to the traditional practice of certain parties covering specific costs.

However, the couple may offer financial assistance to some guests who have difficulty affording the trip, such as elderly relatives or close friends. This can be accomplished subtly and privately, without drawing attention from other guests.

3. Destination Wedding Etiquette for Couples

3.1. Choose Your Location Cautiously

Destination Wedding Edicate - Select Your Location Carefully
Destination Wedding Protocol – Select Your Location Carefully (Source: Venue Hub)

Your destination wedding is a chance to celebrate your love in a place that matches your vision. But it’s also an opportunity to share your joy with your guests, who deserve your care and attention. One of the most important aspects of destination wedding etiquette for the bride and groom is to choose a location that works for both you and your guests. Before you pick a location, think about how it will affect your guests’ travel and accommodation experience.

Destination wedding etiquette for couples about choose location
Destination wedding etiquette for couples about choosing location (Image: avanti_photo)

For instance, you might want to steer clear of peak travel seasons, such as spring break, when fares are steep and rooms are scarce. But you also don’t want to gamble with bad weather or other dangers by choosing hurricane seasons. Moreover, you should weigh the accessibility and suitability of your destination for your guests. Will they be able to reach it easily by one direct flight, or will they have to endure multiple connections and modes of transportation? Will they feel comfortable and welcome in a place where they don’t speak the language or share the culture?

You know your guests best, so try to harmonize your own preferences with their needs and expectations when choosing your location. This way, you can make your destination wedding a memorable and enjoyable occasion for everyone.

3.2. Keep Your Guest List Small

Destination Wedding Protocol About Your Guest List
Destination Wedding Protocol About Your Guest List (Source: Glamour)

Destination wedding etiquette has no hard and fast rules when making your guest list. But, it’s better to keep things modest with most destination weddings. You should only invite those you truly care about. As an example, if you didn’t ask someone for your wedding and it took place yesterday, would you be upset about it? You should only invite those who can confidently answer “yes” to this inquiry.

3.3. Send Save-the-Dates Early for Your Guests

While a destination wedding could be something you decide on on the spur of the moment, it’s still crucial to give your guests plenty of notice so they can arrange their travel and accommodations. Sending out save-the-date cards eight to ten months before a destination wedding is recommended, with invitations going out at least three months beforehand. Because of this, invitees have much time to prepare and respond.

3.4. Make Gift-Giving Easy And Convenient For Your Guests

Destination Wedding Etiquette - Gift-Giving Is Not A Must
Destination Wedding Etiquette – Gift-Giving Is Not A Must (Source: Cosmopolitan Events)

Your guests are already spending a lot of money and time to attend your destination wedding, so you want to make the gift-giving process as easy and convenient as possible for them. This is part of the destination wedding protocol, which aims to show your gratitude and respect for your guests’ efforts and sacrifices.

One way to do that is to create a wedding registry that offers a variety of options, such as cash funds, gift cards, or experiences. This way, your guests can choose a gift that suits their budget and preference, and avoid the hassle of shipping or carrying bulky items. You may want to consider adding a note on your wedding website or invitation indicating that gifts are not required but appreciated, and that having your guests there is the greatest gift of all.

3.5. Use Your Wedding Website To Share Destination Wedding Information for Guests

Utilize Wedding Website As A Guidebook
Utilize Wedding Website As A Guidebook (Source: Pinterest)

Your guests can learn more about the area thanks to your wedding website. It is crucial to have a prepared guide ready well before your guests’ departure if they are being flown to a location they know little about, such as a foreign country with unfamiliar currency conversion rates or a foreign culture with strange norms and behavior.

You should provide details regarding available lodging, where to rent a car (if one is required), and when and where to catch public transportation on your site. Ensure they know what to wear and pack, such as sneakers or snow boots for outdoor excursions, sunscreen, and a shawl for a warm climate with chilly evenings. Regarding etiquette of destination weddings, it’s a well-organized technique to let people help and get a glimpse of what you have in store for the future.

3.6. Don’t Pressure Anyone To Attend Your Wedding

Destination wedding etiquette for bride and groom
Destination wedding etiquette for bride and groom – respectful of guests’ decisions (Image: Jacob Lund)

There is no such thing as a “perfect moment,” “ideal place,” or “perfect travel date.” Around half of those invited to destination affairs actually attend. Make accommodations for individuals who won’t be able to come and show your understanding by showing them you respect their decision. And anyway, you don’t want anybody to feel compelled to go, especially because they’ll likely have to pay considerably more than if you were tying the knot in their hometown.

3.7. Give Your Guests Different Options For Accommodation

Destination Wedding Edicate - Offer Lodging Option For Guests
Destination Wedding Edicate – Offer Lodging Option For Guests (Source: Destination I Do)

In proper etiquette for a destination wedding, providing various lodging options to meet everyone’s needs (and wallets) is necessary. Six to nine months ahead, coordinate hotel blocks at three pricing points (low, medium, and high) so that attendees can choose from various options when making their reservations. Provide clear information on your website and ensure everyone can participate by planning events and transportation to and from each venue.

3.8. Hire A Local Wedding Planner To Help You

Going without a planner can save money, but only if you’re ready to spend the time and effort necessary to choose your own venue, caterer, florist, and musicians. Getting in touch with respectable and dependable vendors who will ensure the celebration is successful may be best left to the local pro if you’ve never spent much time in the place where you’re being married. They will be familiar with the area, the service providers, and the customs of the various cultures represented at the event. They can help you and your wedding guests through issues like tipping and drinking customs.

Hire A Local Wedding Planner
Hire A Local Wedding Planner (Image: pixelshot)

3.9. Arrange Transportation For Your Guests

One of the destination wedding etiquette for couples is to make their guests’ travel experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Guests can be picked up from the airport in a van or limo and taken to their accommodations. To add a personal touch, it is recommended that you employ a knowledgeable guide if at all possible.

Destination Wedding Etiquette - Offer Transportation For Guests
Destination Wedding Etiquette – Offer The Transportation For Guests (Source: Inside Weddings)

On the route to their accommodations, visitors can stop and ask questions of friendly locals, get a free lesson in local history, and take in the scenery. A welcome message displayed in the van’s windows is a nice touch guaranteed to brighten the faces of jet-lagged passengers.

>>> Recommend reading: Wedding Guest Etiquette: 16 Best Guides Manners and Customs

3.10. Create Opportunities For Your Guests To Mingle And Have Fun

You might want to let a guest take a plus one to the wedding if they don’t know anybody else there. This is part of the destination wedding etiquette for bride and groom, who should make their guests feel comfortable and appreciated. As many destination weddings last for an entire week, it’s a good idea to have a welcome party and arrange additional group activities, including tours, sports, and boat cruises, so your guests can get to know one another.

Provide Guests A Chance To Interaction
Provide Guests A Chance To Interaction (Source: Wedding Wire)

4. Destination Wedding Etiquette for Guests

4.1. RSVPing as Soon as Possible and Being Honest About Your Availability

This will assist the couple in planning their budget, booking the venue, and organizing the travel and accommodation details for you and other guests. If there is any uncertainty or conflicts, it’s best to inform them promptly rather than keeping them waiting for your RSVP. By responding promptly and truthfully, you can prevent any confusion, and let the couple make the couple feel appreciated and supported.

Destination wedding etiquette for guests
RSVPing as soon as possible is a destination wedding etiquette for guests (Image: Pexels)

4.2. Don’t Invite Anyone Without Approval

A golden rule of etiquette for destination weddings is to respect the couple’s wishes and not bring a friend unless you have a plus-one invitation. Going solo to the wedding might seem daunting, but it can also be an amazing opportunity to meet new people and have fun. Think about how your buddy or partner would feel if you dragged them along to a social event that they were not invited to. It would be awkward and unfair to them and the couple. So, unless the bride and groom explicitly say otherwise, leave your plus one at home and enjoy the wedding adventure on your own!

4.3. Gift-Giving Pressure Is Unnecessary

Understandably, you would like to give the happy couple a wedding gift, but you have already spent a significant sum on traveling to the ceremony. Yet, the final decision rests with you. A registry item, either pricey or affordable, is an option.

Destination Wedding Etiquette - Do Not Be Pressure For Gift Giving
Etiquette for Destination Wedding Gift – Do Not Be Pressure For Gift Giving (Source: Brides)

4.4. Prepare Your Luggage Appropriately

Before you pack for a wedding, you should check the destination wedding information for guests that the couple has provided. This will help you keep the event’s schedule in mind and avoid missing any of the exciting events or being underdressed for the occasion.

Besides the weather of your destination, you also need to think about the mood and style of the wedding. A colorful or neutral palette? A simple or elaborate outfit? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself before you zip up your suitcase. By doing so, you can make sure you have the right clothes and accessories to fit in and stand out at the wedding.

Useful Tips For Destination Wedding Protocol
Useful Tips For Destination Wedding Protocol (Source: Martha Stewart)

5. Etiquette for Destination Wedding Gift

5.1. How much should guests spend on a destination wedding gift?

Destination wedding etiquette for guests can be tricky, especially when it comes to gifts. According to LoveToKnow, a reasonable amount for a destination wedding gift is between $50 and $150. A good starting point is around $100, if you can swing it. But if that’s too steep for you, you can go for something between $50 and $75.

Destination weddings can be a big splurge for guests, so the couple won’t expect lavish gifts from them. The most important thing is to spend what you are comfortable with and what you think suits the occasion.

Etiquette for Destination Wedding Gift
Etiquette for Destination Wedding Gift (Image: pixelshot)

5.2. What kind of gifts are suitable for a destination wedding?

Choosing a gift for a destination wedding can be a fun and rewarding task, as you can find something that matches the couple’s personality, preferences, and needs. Here are some examples of awesome gifts:

  • Cash or gift cards: These are always a great choice, as they give the couple the freedom to spend the money on whatever they desire or require, such as their honeymoon, home, or future plans.
  • Travel-related gifts: These are thoughtful and relevant, as they enrich the couple’s travel experience or help them capture their memories. For example, you can give them a personalized luggage tag, a travel journal, a camera, or a photo album.
  • Local or cultural gifts: These are unique and meaningful, as they showcase the destination’s culture or history. For instance, you can give them a local delicacy, a handmade souvenir, a book, or a piece of art.

You can also get creative and give them an “experience gift” — a membership to a museum, a wine tasting, a cooking class — which will usually cost less than the dinnerware or cookware from their registry. Besides, some couples may value an experience more than a set of bowls or flatware.

Destination wedding gift registry etiquette
Gift etiquette for a destination wedding (Image: avanti_photo)

6. Destination Wedding Etiquette Bridal Shower

A bridal shower is a festive pre-wedding celebration that showers the bride-to-be with gifts and games. However, for destination weddings, the etiquette of bridal showers can vary. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Only invite guests who are also invited to the wedding. It is impolite to expect someone to bring a gift if they are not invited to the main event.
  • Think about the timing and location of the shower. Ideally, the shower should be held at least a few weeks before the wedding, so the guests have enough time to get ready for the trip. The shower can be held in the bride’s hometown, the groom’s hometown, or a central location that is convenient for most guests.
  • Be considerate of the budget and the registry. Since the guests are already splurging to attend the destination wedding, the shower gifts should be modest and practical. The bride should register for items that are easy to pack and transport.
Destination wedding etiquette bridal shower
Destination wedding etiquette bridal shower (Image: Getty Images Signature)

>>> Further reading:

Imagine saying “I do” in a breathtaking location that you’ve always dreamed of. A destination wedding can be the ultimate way to celebrate your love, but it also comes with some challenges and responsibilities. That’s why you need to know the dos and don’ts of destination wedding etiquette, so you can avoid any unpleasant surprises and enjoy your big day to the fullest.

Follow our tips from Viva Wedding Photography and you’ll be able to plan and execute a flawless destination wedding that you and your guests will never forget. And most importantly, have fun! We’d love to hear from you. How was your destination wedding experience? Share your story with us in the comments below and inspire other couples who are planning their dream weddings.

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