A destination wedding is an exciting occasion for both the couple getting married and their guests. The opportunity to spend such a happy day with your nearest and dearest in a beautiful or interesting place is often more attractive than getting married in or near your hometown.
However, a destination wedding doesn’t have to be a beach ceremony in a tropical locale and recent research has found that in fact only one third of couples hosting a destination wedding had to fly there. Despite this, destination weddings can involve increased travel and accommodation costs which can be a concern for both the bride and groom and their guests.
If you’ve never thrown or attended a destination wedding before you will have some concerns and queries about what to do to ensure everyone feels comfortable. Check out the following guide to destination wedding etiquette to make sure you get it right and are the best wedding guest you can be.
Etiquette for the happy couple
Be clear about who is paying for what
The thing that will be foremost in your guest’s minds when they receive your invitation is how much it is going to cost, so be explicit about what they will have to pay for. Unless all your guests have lots of money, don’t choose a location that is expensive to travel to and expensive to stay at. Be clear about whether they will have to pay for accommodation as well as travel and if they will have to pay for food and drink during their stay. If these things are clear at the beginning you won’t end up with financial stress or unhappy guests later.
Image source: Brides.com
Find an affordable place for your destination wedding
There are a few things you can do to make your wedding as cheap as possible for your guests, whilst still being special for you, including getting married outside of peak season, choosing a local wedding planner with knowledge of the area and language and keeping your ceremony and reception simple. However, the best thing you can do is to find a destination that is a bit off the beaten track, and therefore much more affordable altogether. International locations that are currently on the cheaper end of the scale include Belize in Mexico, Negril in Jamaica and The Dominican Republic. Cheaper European destinations include Dubrovnik, Budapest, Prague and Bratislava.
Image source: The Points Guy
Offer help and suggestions for travel and accommodation options
Do plenty of research about places to stay suitable for a variety of budgets in the area your wedding is being held. This should include Airbnb options that will allow a group of people to club together and make things cheaper, as well as more upmarket hotels. Also include in your invite options for reaching the destination, including budget air travel websites, public transport links and car-sharing ideas.
Etiquette for guests
Find out exactly what you’re expected to pay for
Unless the bride and groom are incredibly rich, you will most likely be expected to pay for your own travel and accommodation. If you’re on a tight budget and it hasn’t been specified in the invitation get in touch with the hosts to find out exactly what else you’ll have to pay for. It probably isn’t likely that they will pay for meals and drinks outside of the wedding schedule, so knowing in advance how much you’ll be dipping into your funds will help you manage your budget better.
Be clear on the dress code
It’s all too easy to forget to come out of holiday mode when attending a destination wedding. Whilst you may usually stay in shorts and t-shirt for the duration of a normal holiday, remember this is not a normal holiday and there will likely be a wedding guest dress code not dissimilar to that of a UK based wedding. Although in a hot climate the dress code may `allow for no ties or more light and airy dresses, it’s important to check. As a rule, assume that your Hawaiian shirt and flip flops aren’t going to be acceptable.
How long do guests stay at destination weddings?
Your hosts will specify on the invite how long the wedding activities will last, which will often be over a weekend if their guests have travelled a long way. It might make sense for you to stay longer than the wedding and turn the trip into a holiday. If the bride and groom are staying for longer as well be sensitive to the fact that they are now on their honeymoon and may not want your company all the time now that the wedding is over.
Image source: Regency San Marco
Will I be expected to bring a gift?
As you will have already forked out for travel and accommodation, and taking large or heavy gifts on a plane or train is inconvenient, don’t feel obliged to splash out more cash on an expensive gift. Your presence at the wedding is what the bride and groom really want, so choose something inexpensive but meaningful, or simply write a heartfelt message in a special card.
Can I bring a plus one?
Bringing an extra guest to a destination wedding without asking is the worst possible wedding etiquette, as it will add to the couple’s costs and be enormously inconvenient in terms of food and accommodation. If you’d really like to bring someone else, ask first but be prepared to accept that the answer may be no. If you’re concerned about spending the whole time alone, ask the hosts to introduce you to some people they think you’ll enjoy spending time with when you arrive.
As long as the hosts have carefully planned and costed their destination wedding and the guests are aware of how much they will have to pay, it will be a fantastic occasion for everyone.