destination wedding etiquette

Don’t spring the date on everyone

Before choosing a date for your destination wedding, you will want to make sure that the key members of the family and bridal party will be able to attend. Sending out save-the-date cards six months in advance is a part of basic wedding etiquette. But, being that yours will require a bit of planning, you’d be better off sending save-ten-dates out 7-8 months in advance. At the very least, make sure your VIPs know the date as soon as you do. Your guests need to request time off, reserve flights, possibly book sitters, and for some, tackle the most demanding task of all: saving money. Your guests will appreciate as much advance notice as you can give them.

Do use your wedding website like an online information packet

Be sure not to leave out any pertinent information on your wedding website. Unlike wedding websites for local weddings, your destination wedding website will definitely see some traffic. This is because your guests will have plenty of questions before booking the trip for your wedding. There is the obvious information to include: things as accommodations, maps, dress code, the best sources for airfares, etc. But your website will need to include information pertaining your destination as well. Guests need to know what to pack for the weather, what travel arrangements they’ll need to make (such as car rental options if necessary) and where they can find up-to-date currency rates. Put yourself in their shoes. Basically anything that you’d want to know as a guest at a destination wedding will need to be available on your website. You may even want to have a FAQ page that you can update as needed.

destination wedding etiquette

Photo Credit: Mike Larson Photography

Don’t book it without seeing it

Although it may not be easy, it is highly recommended that you see your venue before booking. It’s stressful enough planning a wedding at a venue that you can actually drive to and check out whenever you’d like. If you can, travel to your chosen destination and make an appointment with the owner or local wedding coordinator. Tell them to meet you at the venue so you can get the most out of your visit. Remember, the next time you'll be there will be just days (if not hours) before the wedding ceremony. Be prepared with all of your questions and make sure you fully understand the venue’s contract agreements before committing.

Do make sure there are options for accommodations

Offering a range of hotel options can be a challenge depending on the location, but the goal is to take everyone’s budget into consideration. If your main choice is a hotel on the higher end of the price range, be sure to offer a hotel accommodation that is more reasonable for your guests. It’s also nice to offer a variety of hotel styles that your guests can choose from. For example, Nayara Springs, in Costa Rica, is a great option for guests looking for a more exclusive hotel experience. For those interested in a more traditional hotel stay, the American Trade Hotel, in Panama City, is an example of a great option.

Casa Sisal Hacienda Yucatan Mexico guest bedroom detail

Don’t forget to stock their guest rooms

This is a thoughtful touch that can be inexpensive, yet is very much appreciated by your guests (who have travelled so far to be with you). Unlike a local wedding location, your guests will have to get comfortable in their rooms because they won't have the option of driving home later in the evening. Make them as comfortable as possible with a few snacks, drinks and unique necessities for their stay, such as personalized bath products or candles. Also, make sure to include a wedding weekend itinerary in each of the guest rooms. Many guests will not easily have access to the internet to check your wedding website so be sure to print a detailed itinerary of the activities taking place. If the bridal party has a more specific timeline for the wedding day, be sure to include an additional timeline for the bridal party.

Pre and Post Wedding Events

While it is not required to host pre and post wedding events, if you do everyone invited to the wedding should be invited to all the events a destination wedding. You have asked everyone to fly and spend money to come to your special day, nobody should be excluded from any wedding weekend activities. Be careful not to go overboard and plan to many activities because each activity is another event that will cost you. So make sure to plan to include each activity and event in your overall wedding budget.

Gift Giving

Destination weddings can be very costly for guests and attending in most cases is a gift in itself. Many people question whether or not they should give a gift. If you do not want your guests to give a gift, letting them know in advance there presence is a present is a nice way to let them know a gift is not expected. For a destination wedding guests will typically get the couple a smaller gift so be considerate when creating your registry.

Your turn

Have you been to a destination wedding that could have benefitted from our destination wedding etiquette list? Let us read about it in the comments below.