Destination weddings are enticing. The thought of exchanging your vows on the rolling fields of a vineyard or a cliff overlooking the ocean is romantic. But before you get swept away dreaming of locations, take a moment to understand the proper etiquette involved in hosting a wedding away from home.
Whether it’s a two-hour drive or a flight across the world, planning a far-flung wedding, means asking your guests to spend more time and money to witness you say ‘I do.’ There are, inevitably, some rules you need to follow and being mindful of the required etiquette is essential to avoid seeming rude.
There are many elements to consider when planning a destination wedding, from choosing the location to sending save-the-dates in advance. It’s best to put together a guide before your guests agree to attend your big day. Be sure to provide enough information and regular updates so everyone traveling for you will know what to expect before reaching the destination. Our handy tips will help you navigate the destination wedding dos and don’ts, and ensure you keep your guests happy while staying true to your exotic vision.
Be mindful when choosing the location
If you’ve always imagined your wedding on a pristine Balinese beach, there are ways to make it work. But if you’re open-minded about the location options, it makes it easier for you and your guests.
When choosing the location, be thoughtful of the travel distance and the accessibility. Are there enough convenient flights? Will your guests experience jet lag? It’s also important to consider the cost of traveling. Your guests shouldn’t feel pressured to pay beyond their means, so try to pick a location that has affordable travel options.
You know your guests best, so try to anticipate their needs and meet your own before selecting a spot for your nuptials.
Ensure Your VIPs can attend
For most couples, the vision for their big day is incomplete without their parents, siblings, and best friends. To make sure the people you value most will be present for your wedding, speak to them about your plans before sending out the invites. Ask them if they’re comfortable with the location and the travel cost. If they give you the green light, you’re good to go.
Don’t pressure guests to attend
Not all guests will be as excited as you are about your destination wedding. Perhaps the location is inconvenient for them, or they don’t feel comfortable spending the extra amount of money to travel. Some will decline your invitation. Do not pressure these guests. Be respectful of their reasons and let them know that you understand. Destination affairs are usually more intimate.
Don’t spring a date
It would be best if you give your guests enough time to plan. You don’t want everyone scrambling to make bookings or declining to attend because of expensive last-minute fares.
Be sure to send your ‘save-the-dates’ at least six to eight months before the wedding. By inviting guests in advance you will give everyone enough time to figure out their budgets, make their travel arrangements and book their accommodation.
Provide enough information
Creating a wedding website is an efficient way to share information with guests. Include accommodation options (unless you are hosting your guests), transport information with car rental companies, and general flight information. Also include your itinerary of events, the dress codes, and the weather forecast. Providing enough information will support your guests with their planning and avoid the chances of any unwanted last-minute surprises.
When providing accommodation options, consider everyone’s budgets and comfort levels. You don’t want your guests to feel obliged to choose a hotel beyond their budget. Be sure to make everyone feel included no matter where they decide to stay.
Pay for transport
A great way to make sure everyone feels welcomed and included is by arranging transport. Organize a car, van, or bus to pick up your guests and shuttle them to their respective hotels. If you’d like to go the extra mile, you can even hire a guide to share information about the area and any tourist attractions.
It’s also a hospitable gesture to provide shuttles between each guest’s accommodation and the wedding venue. Hire a transport coordinator to help you with this. But if this puts too much pressure on you, be sure to provide a car rental option at the very least.
Give a warm (or cooling) welcome
A warm welcome sets the tone for your wedding. A great way to greet guests is by serving festive beverages upon arrival. A cucumber spritzer or coconut water works well in the warm climate of a tropical destination. Hot cocoa or tea is a great option if the wedding is taking place somewhere cold. Or maybe even champagne if you want to get the party started early. Amidst the preparation, try to make sure you welcome each guest personally and thank them for traveling all that way.
Prepare little hampers for guest rooms
Little gestures go a long way. Preparing small hampers for your guests is a thoughtful gift to show appreciation. You don’t have to go overboard, but providing a handful of sweet and savory snacks, some sodas, a hangover recovery kit and a small guidebook are small tokens that can make your guests feel happy.
Value the ultimate gift of presence
Your guests will be shelling out more for your destination wedding than they would for a local wedding. Bearing that in mind, it might be a good idea to have a ‘no-gifting’ policy and tell your guests that their presence is of more value.
But if you have friends and family who still want to give you something special, choose a wish list of cost-friendly items. Curate a gift registry with affordable gifts for your guests to choose from.
Make it a celebration to remember
Your guests have made the effort to be there for your big day, so be sure to reciprocate by making sure everyone feels included in all the events and plan for enough food and drinks. Be social with all your guests and personally express appreciation for their presence. This extra hospitality will make your destination wedding a celebration to remember.