Destination Wedding Etiquette Questions

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Destination weddings can be one of the most exciting topics to think about except for one thing: they tend to bring up a lot of questions.

Because of their huge scope of options depending on the couple's wedding wants and needs, these events require different planning procedures, and therefore different planning questions to ask, especially in terms of what's proper to do or not.

In past EWE posts, we've tried to answer some of these etiquette-related questions by explaining who pays for what at destination weddings, as well as how to deal with (and where to ask guests to send) destination wedding gifts.

But this post is going to cover all the loose ends we haven't addressed yet, and that you're still asking us.

So keep reading if you're still wondering about which of those pesky duties you need to be in charge of, or how you should handle a missed-flight situation by a guest or wedding party member (yes, it does happen).

Your destination wedding etiquette questions answered...

Who should we invite to the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and bachelor party?

Definitely a tricky one that lots of people wonder about.

The general rule of thumb here is to only invite people to pre-wedding parties who you are also inviting to the wedding. This avoids anyone's feelings getting hurt.

However, if you really want to see more people than that and have a smaller, more intimate ceremony, you have three options:

1. You can invite whoever you want to pre-wedding parties, but not ask for gifts (so it doesn't seem like that's the only reason you're asking them to come there but not to the wedding).

2. You can invite people to your pre-wedding parties who are expecting an invitation to a party, but not necessarily to your wedding. These are most likely going to be acquaintances or co-workers you're not incredibly close with.

3.  You can have an after-wedding reception back home and invite everyone you want. Guests at your wedding could then save their gifts for this event (instead of mailing them in or bringing gift cards).

Make sure that whatever you decide is clear and concise on the invitations you send out.

Who should we invite to the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and bachelor party?

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What are we required to provide for our guests?

There are a few things you as a couple will need to prepare for your guests for your wedding to follow proper destination wedding etiquette.

First of all, it's important to send out your save-the-dates and destination wedding invitations early so they have all the information they need. It would suck to have a guest miss out on your special day because they simply couldn't book travel in time.

Second, you need to make your guests feel welcome. How you do that is up to you. Whether it's well-thought-out welcome bags or a big pre-wedding dinner bash, showing your guests you appreciate the time and effort they made to come to your wedding is an etiquette must.

As discussed in our post on costs, couples aren't expected to pay for guests' travel, hotel rooms, or meals, and you certainly aren't required to provide daily entertainment options for them (though a "top 10 things to do list" in their welcome bags is a good touch if you have the time).

What's expected of our guests?

In general, guests should be seen as vacationers who also happen to be celebrating your special day.

Don't try to occupy all their time, and in return, you shouldn't expect them to occupy all of yours. This is especially true after the wedding if you've decided to have your honeymoon in the same location as the wedding.

If you suspect that some guests could get rowdy during the celebrations, remind them that though you appreciate their presence there and want them to have fun, you're also relying on them to be discretionary and responsible. You may want to decide beforehand with your significant other if you're going to make your guests pay for any damages they might cause to the event location or decorations.

Finally, guests are expected to bring you a gift, but we've already discussed destination wedding gift etiquette in this post.

What's expected of our guests?

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What if our resort or hotel doesn't have enough rooms for everyone?

Fortunately, this one's pretty easy: keep rooms reserved for the wedding party and immediate family only.

On your wedding website, provide alternate locations that guests can choose to stay, and make sure they offer a range of prices so your guests don't feel pressured into spending more than they might be comfortable with.

And don't forget to suggest that guests book their rooms early.

Speaking of the wedding party, do we pay for their travel and accommodations?

Okay, so this is one thing we admittedly forgot to cover in our post about destination wedding costs.

The fact of the matter is that there are mixed answers to this question. More traditional destination wedding etiquette dictates that you as the couple are responsible for all your attendants' costs, while more modern takes on the etiquette state that the wedding party should be able to handle the finances on their own, because they can always choose to decline your offer if they can't.

However, sometimes you might really want your good friend or family member as a wedding party member, and he/she can't afford to pay for the entire trip.

In these instances, check to see what your budget allows and pay for a specific portion or two of the event. Provide this for all your attendants so no one feels left out (alternatively, you can cut costs by not choosing an expensive dress/tux, etc.).

This is why it's so important to choose your destination wedding party members wisely!

Speaking of the wedding party, do we pay for their travel and accommodations?

What if a wedding party member misses their flight?

It really stinks, but you have to just carry on without them.

It'd only cost more time, energy, and finances to try to get them to your wedding another way, something you don't need to be dealing with on your wedding day. Don't pick a stand-in, either; that's like telling them they were a second choice.

To help avoid these types of issues, first of all try to pick reliable party members, and second of all, remind them all to allow themselves plenty of time for travel plans.

A guest showed up with an uninvited plus one. Now what?

We mentioned this in our post about costs, but only briefly.

Typical destination wedding etiquette states you just have to graciously accept the uninvited person. Ask your caterer to prepare another plate, and try to forget the offending guest as best you can.

There's nothing you can do to change them being there, and it'd be very rude of you to turn them away or even throw them disapproving looks throughout the entire event.

Just roll with the punches in this case.

Your Turn...

So hopefully that answered all your other pressing destination wedding etiquette questions. But like the beginning of the post mentioned, every couple is different, and there are so many choices to be made during these types of events, that we could have missed something.

If we didn't answer your question here, what did you want to know?