destination wedding etiquette
photo credit: Steve Corey via photopin cc

Destination Weddings: Six Etiquette Tips You Need to Know


destination wedding etiquette
photo credit: Steve Corey via photopin cc


Throwing a destination wedding doesn’t mean you have to go without bachelor and bachelorette parties, bridal showers and other traditional events. These events provide friends and family with the opportunity to celebrate with you (and give you gifts). If you’re considering inviting people to these events who aren’t invited to the wedding, it’s a good idea to state that gifts are not expected on the invite. Many couples also choose to celebrate after they’ve gotten married, with such events including formal affairs or casual backyard barbecues. With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at a few etiquette tips for destination weddings:

Wedding Gift Etiquette

Since destination weddings present special challenges to those attending, many opt to send gifts directly to the bride and groom, or to the homes of their parents. This avoids dealing with gifts while flying or otherwise traveling. Gift certificates and cash gifts are usually brought to the wedding.

Another viable gift option is to purchase gifts from the couple’s honeymoon registry. If they’re working with a destination wedding specialist, it’s very likely they’ve created such a registry. This allows attendees to purchase fun things for the honeymoon, such as snorkeling activities, drinks on the beach, special dinners, spa treatments, etc.

While destination weddings are usually more causal, they’re no reason to ignore party etiquette.


wedding gift ideas

Wedding Reception Etiquette

For the couple: let guests know what to expect, such as dress code, food and length of the reception. Do this before everyone leaves for the trip! Remember to seat guests of the same age together, and to dance! Don’t let the party get dull.

For guest: be agreeable! If you aren’t a fan of the meal, order room service afterwards. Remember not to be too drunk, too loud or too demanding. Make conversation with your fellow guests. Bring a gift or send it ahead of time.

Parents’ Duties

The idea that the bride’s parents have to cover all wedding expenses is long dead, as couples today often have their own income and are older in general. However, both sets of parents usually expect to contribute, which is fine. If either or both sets are paying for destination wedding expenses, they certainly don’t have to cover guest plane fare. It’s also essential that the parents help the wedding be as stress-free for the couple as possible, and provide them with plenty of time to spend together. This means occupying talkative family members among other things.

destination wedding etiquette
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Guests’ Duties

The main duty of guests is to enjoy themselves, though all are expected to pay for all travel-related expenses. They still need to bring gifts as well, and if the gift is too big or otherwise doesn’t travel well, simply send it to the couple’s home. It’s also important to remember a destination wedding is usually a honeymoon as well, so guests should give the couple “alone time.”

Wedding Party Etiquette

It’s normal to want family and special friends as the wedding party, however it’s also good etiquette to ensure a destination wedding works for everyone. Wedding parties for destination weddings are usually much smaller, with a Maid of Honor and Best Man the only “party members.” The bride and groom generally pay for the travel expenses of the wedding party. This includes airfare, transportation, food and accommodations. Everything else is on the wedding party. It’s also important to give everyone enough notice to take time off work and make all necessary arrangements.

destination wedding reception


Reception Seating

If the destination wedding includes more than a few guests, it’s necessary to come up with a seating arrangement. A few tips include:

  • Seat guests with those whom they will feel comfortable around, such as seating co-workers together.
  • Seat couples together and children with at least one parent.
  • Alternate men and women around each table for more formal occasions.
  • The bride, groom and bridal party generally sit at a long table in the front of the room. No one should have their backs to the guests.
  • Have the couple’s closest friends and family seated as close to the front table as possible.
  • Use printed place cards to identify each seat.

Enjoy planning an amazing destination wedding! Expense aside, everyone involved will undoubtedly love the chosen location.


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