Destination weddings are exciting, exotic and (unfortunately) expensive; and for guests, it’s either a great excuse to go on a holiday or an invite that they have to find an excuse to decline.
Generally wedding etiquette is directed towards the guests, but for destination weddings, there are a few rules the bride needs to be aware of. Whenever someone mentions ‘wedding’, you can guarantee that emotions are running high, guests can feel awkward and embarrassed if they can’t afford to attend the destination and family can be disproving (especially if you cut extended cousins and distant relatives from the guest list!).
Here are eight rules that destination brides need to abide by.
1. Don’t Save the Save the Dates
This is a biggie. Don’t save your ‘save the date’ cards, get them out as soon as possible! When your guests have to travel more than a couple of hours to reach your wedding destination, it’s important to give them as much notice as possible. Not only do guests need time to save, but they’ll also need to arrange babysitters, time off work and other travel logistics. We recommend at least one year’s notice with the ‘save the dates’, even if all you provide is the basic location and timing details.
2. Understand There Will Be Declines
Destination weddings tend to have a much higher rate of invitation declines. Whether your guests can’t afford the travel, can’t take time off work, can’t leave their children or simply have other commitments, brides need to understand that a destination wedding is all about compromise. You’ll be in an exciting destination, but you won’t necessarily have a full list of attendees.
Image from Megan and David’s wedding. Photography by Blumenthal.
3. Be Clear on Kids
Destination weddings can be tricky for parents, so be clear from the outset as to whether children are welcome or not. Kids at weddings can be fun, but bringing children to a foreign city or country adds another complication. Think about your destination and whether it is appropriate and safe for children.
4. Look Local
Instead of trying to bring all of your favourite suppliers with you, look local. Not only will you likely save money by hiring local suppliers, but you’ll get insider knowledge on the destination which you can then pass onto your guests. The hippest bars? Tick. The best shopping? Tick. The best hotel? Tick. Local insight is worth its weight in gold.
5. Become the Destination Expert
No doubt your guest will turn to you for advice when it comes to organising their trip, so be prepared to become a bit of an expert. Preempt the obvious questions regarding accommodation and transfers and consider providing a group bus or car to get guests to and from the airport. Destination weddings require extra consideration, so think of little ways to make your guests’ lives that little easier.
Image from Shane and Koby’s wedding. Photography by James Billing.
6. Provide a Visitor’s Guide
Put together a one-page guide for guests which includes suggested activities and local sites. If you want some extra brownie points, book a few group tours! Not only will it have all the guests mingling before the wedding, but you’ll most likely get a discount when you book in bulk.
7. The Cost Conversation
Money is always a tricky topic. Whenever you organise an activity or dinner during your destination wedding, be clear on what your guests will be expected to cover and what the bride and groom are paying for. This is especially important when it comes to things like hens and bucks nights, the rehearsal dinner and any wedding after-parties.
8. To Gift or Not to Gift
Your guests are forking out some serious cash to come to your wedding, so be mindful that asking for expensive gifts is probably not a great idea. Ditch the gift registry (imagine trying to ship a box full of kitchen appliances, chopping boards and steak knives home!?) and opt for either a wishing well or nothing. Oftentimes, your guest’s presence will be enough.
Image from Laura and Jason’s wedding. Photography by Rochelle Cheever.
Main image from Linda and Yeissen’s wedding. Photography by WHITE Fashion Photographer.