Destination weddings are the perfect solution for adventurous couples who want to exchange nuptials in a unique destination, without running the risk of angering friends and family members by eloping.
Planning a destination wedding is not for the faint of heart — but trust us, it’ll all be worth it when you exchange vows against a breathtaking backdrop, surrounded by your friends and family.
Since destination weddings are still gaining in popularity, there are many questions surrounding the proper etiquette for hosting one.. Undoubtedly, it can be tricky for an uninformed bride and groom to successfully navigate the long distance planning of their special day. Luckily, by the end of this article, you’ll be an expert on destination wedding etiquette and ready to begin planning!
1. How to choose your destination
First and foremost, discuss what you are looking for in a destination wedding location with your partner. Would you like to be sprawled out on an exotic, white sand beach sipping piña coladas with your friends and family? Or, are you seeking an action-packed destination with easy access to outdoor adventures and spirited nightlife?
Consider the following factors to help you narrow down the choices:
- Travel distance
- Mode of transportation
- Need for immunizations
- Access to desirable amenities
- Cost of travel/ accommodation/ food & activities
- Cultural implications of the destination (e.g., is it LGBT friendly?)
Make sure you consider how the location of your destination wedding may impact your guests. Ignoring any of the above considerations could result in a loved one being unable to join you for the celebration.
Don’t forget, this is your wedding and you have complete creative freedom — If you know that traveling to a far-off location would strain the budget of most of the people you want to invite, consider hosting a destination wedding right here in your own country. It’s as easy as renting a bus, filling it with your friends and family, and driving out to the countryside to enjoy the festivities.
If you’re having trouble deciding on a destination wedding location, check out our seven favorite island locations for your your destination wedding.
Looking for inclusive locations to host your destination wedding? Check out this list LGTB friendly wedding destinations across the globe!
2. When to send invitations
Destination wedding invitation etiquette can be tricky — how much notice do you need to provide guests? When do you need to send out the invitations? What information needs to be included?
For most destination weddings, you’ll want to have a location selected at least 10 to 12 months before the big day. However, unless you’re an incredibly savvy planner, you probably won’t have all of the necessary information such as flight times, lodging, activities etc., ready to commence the invitation printing press.
But, once you have the date and location finalized, you should let your guests know ASAP. This will give them ample time to make advanced arrangements such as:
- Time off work
- Child Care
So what is the alternative to a formal wedding invitation? The answer is a “save the date” notification! This informal, light-hearted announcement is the perfect way to deliver date/location information and begin ramping up excitement with your friends and family. Follow save the date etiquette for a destination wedding by sending them out 6 to 8 eight months before the official invitations.
When your wedding is only a few months out, you can send your guests formal invitations finalizing the details of the event. Since you are going the extra mile (literally) and hosting your wedding in an alluring destination, your invitations should follow suit. Consider using an innovative invitation design that embodies the uniqueness of your destination.
3. Destination wedding bridal shower etiquette
There are two major caveats to consider when choosing a destination wedding to celebrate your big day. First, some of your loved ones may reject your invitation due to the cost and/or difficulties associated with traveling to a far-off destination. Second, you have likely had to slim down your guest list and opt for a small and intimate wedding, given the need for travel.
But don’t fret—a local couples shower is the perfect way for you to include these parties in the celebrations. You may be wondering though: what exactly is a couples shower?
A couples shower is an emerging pre-wedding party trend that puts an exciting twist on a traditional wedding/bridal party. It replaces the typical destination wedding bridal shower etiquette with an inclusive, coed party for both the bride and groom’s loved ones to attend.
In order to alleviate any added confusion, we suggest making this a gift-free event. According to destination wedding gift etiquette, you should clearly state that you are not expecting gifts.
4. Create a wedding website
It’s 2018, everything is online — so why shouldn’t your wedding have its own IP address? Make it easy for your guests to find out more about your wedding — as soon as you’re ready to send out the “save the date” notices, start building a wedding website.
Your guests will appreciate any extra information you post on your wedding website about the destination such as:
- Local activities
- Local customs
- Useful phrases in the local language
The great part is that you can provide your guests with a real-time update as your destination wedding planning develops. It can become a fun do-it yourself project — there are even easy-to-use wedding website templates that will do most of the work for you, including:
Looking for more ways to make your destination wedding stand out? We’ve got you covered with these whimsical wedding ideas.
5. Make lodging arrangements for your guests
Following destination wedding etiquette, you should arrange lodging for yourself, your wedding party, and your guests. Depending on where you have booked your destination wedding, you should have a number of available options. Many couples choose to pursue a discounted rate at a hotel or all-inclusive by reserving a block of rooms. However, as of recent, extravagant AirBnBs have become a popular abode for all of the destination wedding guests to share. Regardless of where you choose to stay, here are some expert tips for you to consider when booking your destination wedding lodging.
- You may need additional rooms if children are included in your destination wedding plans
- Reserve more space than you think you need — more is better than less in the case of impromptu plus ones or forgotten guests
- Establish a date by which you can release the reservations without penalty
- Ask your guests to put down a deposit 4-6 months before your wedding date. This will let you know who is serious about attending, and ensure that you can release any unused reservations in plenty of time.
6. Who covers the costs at a destination wedding?
It’s the question on everyone’s mind — who pays for a destination wedding? In most cases, the wedding party and guests pay for their airfare, lodging, and any meals or activities that aren’t related to the wedding. However, destination wedding etiquette states that it is common for the engaged couple to pay for everything at the destination that is related to the wedding. Additionally, many couples look for ways to defray the costs and surprise their guests. If you are planning a destination wedding, you should consider the following necessary and *auxiliary costs:
- Follow destination wedding rehearsal dinner etiquette and invite all of your guests to join your for a delicious meal the night before the wedding
- Transportation throughout the trip, including to and from the airport, ceremony, reception, and group activities
- *A welcome reception and farewell breakfast or lunch
- *A “Welcome bag” full of treats and useful items for your guests’ stay
Another point of contention at a destination wedding is whether or not a gift is necessary. Although there is no clean-cut destination wedding gift etiquette, many couples tell their guests or bridal parties that gifts aren’t necessary.
You may be wondering if a destination wedding is worth the extra cost you will incur compared to a traditional at home wedding. Before making the financial commitment, create a estimated budget for each event and evaluate the price difference — you may be pleasantly surprised to find that the destination wedding ends up being less expensive.
Not sure when to offer transportation to your guests? Check out these transportation tips for your destination wedding.
7. Use a local wedding planner
Hiring a local wedding planner is an excellent way to alleviate the stress associated with planning a destination wedding. You will now have access to an official consultant, negotiator, and connoisseur of everything local.
You should select your local wedding planner with care and look for someone based in your destination with a great reputation and reviews. Once you’ve found your own personal destination wedding confidant, you can work together to select a local venue, food, wedding cake decorations, and entertainment.
It can be challenging to plan a destination wedding at a distance on your own. Hiring a local wedding planner will ensure that you’re not consumed with last-minute details and are able to focus on enjoying the experience with your guests.
8. Honeymoon elsewhere
Now that the reception is over, you’re in your dream destination and it makes perfect sense to plan your honeymoon in the same place, right?
Contrary to popular belief, destination wedding honeymoon etiquette recommends moving to a new destination for this phase of your trip. Changing to a new hotel, resort, city, or country will help to underline the break between your wedding celebration and your honeymoon.
Additionally, you run the risk of disturbing guests that have decided to extend their stay into a vacation at your destination wedding location. If you’ve planned a romantic dinner or some alone time on the beach, it may be uncomfortable for everyone if your friends and family members ended up in the same place. They’ll wonder what to do; should they say hello, pretend they don’t see you, or join you for a continuation of the reception?
It’s best for all concerned if you change locations for your honeymoon to avoid bothering your guests – or being bothered by them!
Tired of browsing through photos of tropical locations at this point? Get some inspiration from some of our favorite honeymoon destinations and get ready to book your flight!
Are you considering a destination wedding? If you want your wedding to stand out from the crowd, a destination wedding is the way to go! You’ll have a wedding experience that is unlike any other. On top of that, you and your guests will make a lot of unique memories that will last a lifetime.
If you are on the hunt for remote locations, check out our list of the best islands for hosting destination weddings. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for all your wedding day inspiration!