Unlike your traditional wedding, Destination Weddings have their own set of rules and guidelines that are important to follow when planning for your big day! Make sure to mind your P’s & Q’s with our list of the top 8 essential rules of etiquette for your Destination ‘I Do’s’, and your wedding day is sure to be smooth sailing.
1. What Should The Couple Pay For?
Just like any traditional wedding, couples are only expected to pay for the wedding ceremony & reception- including location, catering, decor and entertainment. Guests are expected to pay for their own travel & accommodations however, many Destination Wedding couples will also opt to host a welcome cocktail party or brunch the day after the wedding, as a ‘thank you’ to their guests for making the trip!
The Big Question: Is it okay for couples to pay the travel expenses for a guest who is undergoing hard financial times?
Ultimately, the decision to pay travel expenses for a guest(s) is left solely up to the engaged couple. If after talking it through, they decide to help pay for a member of the wedding party or a family friend, discretion is always advised. By making an open exception for one guest, other guests who could not attend your Destination Wedding due to budgetary problems may feel hurt or unappreciated. To avoid any financial squabbles, we recommend the couple determine their own set of guidelines for what they are willing to offer guests who may need assistance and to stand firm in that decision.
2. When Should You Send Out the ‘Save The Date’ & Formal Wedding Invitations?Save The Date: Its better to be safe than sorry- send out ‘Save The Dates’ for your Destination Wedding as soon as you’ve confirmed the details! Whether you’re traveling to Mexico to say ‘I Do’ with your toes in the sand, or up to the mountains for a wintery celebration, its best to give your guests 9-12 months to plan out travel details and request time off of work. Remember to include the link to your Destination Wedding Website on your ‘Save The Date, so guests can begin learning about your destination wedding destination!
Formal Wedding Invitations: Destination Wedding Invitations should be sent 2-3 months in ahead of time, and should be the follow-up to your ‘Save The Date’. Formal Invitations are should be just that, formal. Include a small link at the bottom that will direct guests to your Destination Wedding Website for updates on travel details and registry information, but otherwise the invitation should merely state the location of your wedding (beach, garden, boat, etc.) and the time of day (sunset, starlit, etc). Some couples may choose to include a separate card to invite guests to satellite events throughout the wedding week including a welcome dinner, spa day, a golf game or post-wedding brunch. Include a check box on this card to track attendance for each event, so you can plan accordingly.
The Big Question: What is the proper protocol for letting friends know they’re not invited?
As with most Destination Weddings, its a smaller affair with your closest friends & family. If friends ask why they are not invited, all you owe them is a simple explanation that the wedding is small. Honesty is key in this situation & will pay off in the end, though the conversation may be uncomfortable and some feelings may be hurt.
3. What Is The Best Way To Acknowledge An Adults-Only Wedding?
Deciding to host an adults-only wedding is a couple’s choice, and guests should always respect that decision. While is it not proper etiquette to state “No Children” or “Adult Reception” on the invitation, there are subtle cues you can put out that will alert guests to this rule. While you should never state who is NOT invited on the inside envelope of the invitation, we do recommend addressing the invitation to only those who are invited, meaning if the children’s names are left off, they are not invited. If guests express confusion as to why they cannot bring their children, just calmly explain that you are only able to invite them & their significant other, but made sure to send out the invitations early enough so they could plan for childcare.
Helpful Hint: As the Bride & Groom you may feel uncomfortable being so blunt about your child-free wedding- so let others! Alert your family and wedding party members of your adults-only policy, so if they field questions by potential guests they are prepared with the correct response.
Photography Provided by Belle The Magazine
Only guests who are invited to the Destination Wedding should be invited to the engagement party. The only exception to this rule would be if your Destination Wedding was incredibly intimate, as in only the couple and immediate family- then its OK to have a larger celebration back at home. Also, remind your guests that presents are not necessary for an engagement party.
The Big Question: How do I keep my Destination Wedding small, but still have a celebration with my larger group of friends and family?
Many couples are attracted to the idea of a Destination Wedding because of how small & intimate they are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t host a larger wedding reception when you’re back from Paradise! While at home receptions give couples the best of both worlds and allow for more guests to join in celebrating their ever after, couples should not hold an at home reception with the expectation of receiving gifts. Proper wedding etiquette says one wedding invitation= one gift, and an at home reception is more of a party than a formal wedding.
Photography Provided by WeddingPartyApp.com
Since your guests have just made the long journey to celebrate your big day with you, it is a gracious offering to have small gift waiting for them at the front desk or in their hotel room when they arrive. Whether you choose to give a location inspired gift bag filled with knick-knacks that represent the area you’re in or a bottle of wine with a little ‘thank you’ note, this small gesture is a personal way to show appreciation for your friends & family who made the trek to your Destination Wedding. We also recommend leaving a small print out of the wedding itinerary for your guests’ convenience, as many may have forgot to print it out before leaving!
The Big Question: Are there legal restrictions on how many gifts, wedding favors and decoration you can bring into the country for a Destination Wedding in Mexico?
Mexican customs will limit the amount of gifts you can bring into the country to $300 per traveling person. For gift bags and wedding favors, be sure to bring receipts that prove value. It is strongly suggested that you do not ship any items ahead of time as there is a chance they will get lost, misplaced or held in customs.
While its not a written rule that couples should host an array of events beyond the actual wedding ceremony & reception, guests to your Destination Wedding definitely appreciate the extra time spent with the couple. Whether you host a welcome dinner or post-wedding mimosa brunch, all of your guests have spent the time and money to attend your big day and events like these show your true gratitude for having shared in your special day!
7. Gift Etiquette: Post Wedding Events and Destination Gift Etiquette
Destination Wedding Gifts: Since you’ll be traveling during your actual wedding and not able to transport additional luggage, most couples choose to dedicate a small portion of their wedding website (you can build one here) to their wedding registry & information as to where gifts can be sent. A honeymoon registry can also be a fun choice – and guests will get excited for their upcoming trip by investigating the experiences they can gift you and your sweetie. (You can build a honeymoon registry here). However, to thank guests for going through the trouble of traveling long distances for your wedding, many couples just tell their guests that their presence is the present!
Post-Wedding Event Gifts: Traditionally, one invitation equals one wedding gift, whether or not the guest is able to attend the actual Destination Ceremony & Reception. On that same note, an invitation to a belated reception back at home does not imply that people are expected to bring gifts. While many guests will want to, however, it is not required and should not be expected.
8. The Looming Question for Modern Weddings: What rules should couples follow for posting about their wedding on their wedding website & on Social Media?
In an ever-changing modern day, the guidelines for Social Media & Wedding Website etiquette are constantly evolving. While the ease of Social media outlets allow couples to quickly convey necessary details about their wedding day, it is important to approach these mediums tactfully and with grace. It can be seen as hurtful and inconsiderate to post about your wedding in a public forum, such as Facebook, where not all who see the updates are invited. So, as a rule of thumb we recommend creating a private group for your guests where they can navigate the ins-and-outs of your big day without offending friends and family who will not be invited.
Photography compliments of SouthernWeddings.com
Of course, you’ll want guests to flood your news feed with snapshots of your big day after the event- Don’t hold back! Sharing all of the Kodak moments from your wedding is more than acceptable, but lets keep the details to the guests!
Now that you know the in’s and out’s of Destination Wedding Etiquette, lets get planning! Contact an Ever After Destination Wedding Expert Today!
or call toll-free: 800-256-4920