There's a lot to know before you go.
Planning a destination wedding might feel like the perfect escape to planning an over-the-top ceremony and reception with a slew of people you barely know. However, jetting off to an exotic locale for your special day isn’t all fun and games; a destination wedding can be more work than you think, and it can put unfair pressure and financial burdens on those closest to you.
DO: Give Lots of Notice
Planning a 5-day trip the Caribbean is more involved than attending a ceremony on a Saturday – so when inviting guests to a destination wedding, make sure you send out your save the dates at least six months in advance. Providing significant notice will allow guests to book time off work, save funds if they need too, and generally get organized for the commitment.
DON’T: Expect Everyone to Attend
Asking guests to cross state lines, and potentially pull out their passports may be a bit much for certain folks on your invite list. And, while many couples consider this a blessing in disguise and polite way to avoid distant acquaintances feeling obligated to attend, some of your closest family and friends may also opt-out.
DO: Celebrate with Everyone Before or After Your Trip
Knowing that a destination wedding often results in a fairly exclusive crowd, many couples host a reception with a much larger invite list after their return or before they depart. This could be a formal party, or a backyard brunch, but etiquette-wise it serves as an opportunity for less close family, friends and colleagues to celebrate with the happy couple and give their best wishes.
DON’T: Feel Obligated to Pay for Guests’ or Your Bridal Parties’ Trips
Generally, the couple will cover the major festivities, such as the rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception, as well as plan and host one other meal or party, such as a welcome a dinner or day-after brunch. However, you’re certainly not expected to foot the bill. Instead, try to hook your guests up as much as possible with special offers and room-rate promotions.
If you’re being conscious of costs for yourself and your guests, consider booking the wedding during the off-season, which will allow for cheaper accommodation and more affordable flights. It’s considered proper etiquette to also provide guests extra little treats for travelling so far, such as welcome baskets and recovery kits. And if the bride and groom would like to offer something extra to their bridal party, it’s a nice gesture to pay for an additional meal each day.
DO: Provide Guests with a Proper Trip Itinerary
With attendees coming so far, and committing to spend several days with the bride and groom, there’s an expectation that the couple will provide a variety of activities for guests to enjoy, as well as significant information about the trip. Plan to send out more than a simple invite in this case—we’re talking a full itinerary, including details about the hotel or resort, transportation, currency exchange, dates and times of each function and more.
DON’T: Forget to RSVP for Itinerary Events That Require It
Since there are often multiple events involved in a destination wedding, from activities and excursions to various dinners, receptions and parties, it’s polite for guests to RSVP in a timely fashion for the activities they plan to attend. After all, planning more than one event is a lot of work for the bridal party. It’s also proper etiquette that guests are prepared with proper attire for each event they plan to attend and a safe bet to have a few backup outfits on-hand.
DO: Ask The Bridal Party If You Can Share Photos on Social
Not every couple wants their wedding live-streamed over social media. Check with the bride and groom before you post a ton of photos and videos over social media, unless otherwise specified. Remember to keep it classy, this may be your vacation, but it’s their special day.
DON’T: Skimp Out On The Gift
Just because you’re footing the bill for the trip attached to this wedding, doesn’t mean you can forego the gift. It’s best practice to purchase either an item from the couple’s registry and ship it to their home—or if they’re just starting out and planning to make a down payment or property—a monetary gift is appropriate (and appreciated).