Read these 8 Destination Wedding Etiquette Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Destination Weddings tips and hundreds of other topics.
Just because you've opted for a destination wedding is no reason you can't have a wedding shower or bachelor or bachelorette party. As with traditional wedding plans, these events are designed to give family and friends a chance to celebrate the upcoming wedding with you. Generally, you invite only those who are invited to the wedding. If you'd like to have a pre-wedding party and include people not coming to the destination wedding, consider stating that no gifts are expected on the invitation.
Many couples have a wedding celebration after they've returned home from the wedding. This is especially welcome for friends and family of couples that have eloped or gotten married far away where many well-wishers couldn't afford to travel.
Post-wedding parties may be formal affairs or backyard barbecues or anything in between. It depends on the couple's tastes and budget. The guest list to a post-wedding celebration will likely be the same one that you used to send wedding announcements. Gifts are generally not given, although some guests may bring them anyway.
Destination weddings present special challenges, such as what should guests do with gifts for the wedding couple. It is perfectly acceptable to send a large or valuable gift to the bride's parents' home or to the couple's home prior to the destination wedding trip. This way the couple won't have to worry about carrying a large number of gifts in their luggage, the possibility of theft, or fret about any customs concerns. Gifts of cash or gift certificates are usually carried to the wedding destination.
A good answer to what to do with a destination wedding gift is to purchase an item for the couple from their honeymoon registry. If the couple has used the services of a destination wedding specialist, it's very likely that they are registered for such a program. A honeymoon registry allows the wedding couple's family and friends to purchase a component of the honeymoon or wedding trip, such as a spa treatment, a special dinner for two, limousine transfers, or a watersports activity. Close to the wedding date, the couple gets a list of the registry gifts purchased for them and by whom.
A destination wedding reception is generally more casual than one associated with a hometown wedding. However, that doesn't mean that you can ignore the rules of good party etiquette.
For the wedding couple: Let your guests know what to expect; send out information about the dress code, food, and length of the reception before the trip. At the party, greet your guests and make sure that your guests are having a good time. Seat guests with others of similar age and interests. Don't allow the party to fall into a lull. Get out and dance or have the band play a lively tune to perk things up.
For wedding guests: Be an agreeable guest. If you don't like the meal, remember you can order room service after the event. Don't drink too much or be too loud or too demanding. Try to make conversation with your fellow guests at your table, so the wedding couple won't have to worry about them -- or you. Bring a gift. If your gift is large, it's fine to send it to the couple ahead of the wedding.
Most of all, a wedding reception--be it a destination wedding reception or one at home -- is for the couple and their friends and family to celebrate their nuptials.
Gone are the days when the bride's parents were expected to cover all of the wedding expenses. Couples today are generally older and have incomes and savings of their own and may not what to burden their parents with the cost of the wedding. However, many parents -- both the bride's and the groom's -- still want to be able to pay part or all of the wedding costs. This is wonderful, but not expected.
If either or both sets of parents are paying the costs associated with the destination wedding, they are not obligated to pay for guests' traveling expenses. Those are the responsibility of the individual guests. If there are mandatory group events, such as a rehearsal dinner, whoever is paying for the wedding should also pay for the dinner. In a traditional, formal wedding where the bride's family pays for the wedding, the groom's family pays for the rehearsal dinner.
The other major responsibility of the bride and groom's parents is to make sure that the destination wedding trip is as stress-free as possible and that the couple has ample time to enjoy one another's company. This may mean chaperoning Aunt Betty into town or fielding dozens of questions from guests about the destination and what to do there.
Guests at a destination wedding have few duties other than to enjoy themselves and help the wedding couple have the best wedding trip possible. Guests are generally expected to pay for all of their travel expenses and expenses (food, sightseeing, drinks, etc.) while on the wedding trip. Guests shouldn't expect the wedding couple to pay for anything except the wedding ceremony and the reception.
Even though they are paying for their travel expenses in order to be a part of the destination wedding, guests are still expected to bring or give a gift to the wedding couple. Because large gifts are difficult to travel with, it's perfectly acceptable for guests to send large or expensive gifts to the couple's home or to the bride's parents' home prior to the wedding trip. Gifts of cash and gift certificates are usually given at the wedding.
Guests should also remember that this is the wedding couple's honeymoon as well as their wedding trip. Guests shouldn't expect to be entertained continually by the wedding couple and should be considerate about giving the couple "alone time."
Every bride and groom wants to have their closest friends and family members around them when they get married. However, because of the time required to be a part of a destination wedding, it's wise and polite to consider whether you're best friends will be able to meet these requirements when choosing your destination wedding party. You don't want any hurt feelings.
Wedding parties for a destination wedding are generally much smaller than for a traditional, hometown wedding. Often, having a Maid or Matron of Honor and a Best Man are sufficient. Wedding etiquette dictates that the wedding couple should pay the travel expenses of the wedding party. Generally, this includes airfare, accommodations, food, and transportation. Sightseeing and non-wedding activities are the individual's responsibility. When inviting the person to be a part of your wedding, be sure to point out that you will be paying their travel expenses, so that there's no confusion. Give the wedding party members as much advance notice as possible so that they can take time off from work, arrange for childcare, and cover other obligations.
A destination wedding is, in most cases, much more casual than a traditional, hometown wedding. However, if you are having a reception for more than just a few guests, you'll need to consider a wedding reception seating plan. There are several general rules of etiquette and practicality to consider when deciding where your guests will sit at your reception. Here are just a few:
1. Seat your guests with people with whom they will feel comfortable. For example, seat similar age groups, co-workers, those from the same city together.
2. Couples should be seated together and children should always be seated next to at least one parent.
3. At a formal reception, male and female guests are alternated around the table.
4. The bridal party usually sits at a long table in the front of the room, with the bridal couple in the middle. The bride and groom should not have their backs to any guest.
5. Seat the couple's closest friends and family members nearest to the wedding party's table.
Printed place cards should identify each seat. For larger weddings (100 guests or more), consider posting an alphabetical table plan near the entrance to the party room.
Guests at a destination wedding, like any wedding, are there to help the wedding couple celebrate their big day. The fact that the wedding is also a trip doesn't change this fact.
Generally, guests to a destination wedding pay for their own travel expenses -- airfare, hotel, meals, and transportation. Although the wedding couple may offer to pay for additional items, a guest shouldn't expect more than the wedding and reception to be paid for.
Guests to a destination wedding, like any wedding, are expected to bring a gift. That can be tricky if you are traveling overseas. Because of this, it's perfectly acceptable to send large or valuable gifts to the couple's home or to the bride's parents' home in advance of the wedding. Gifts of cash or gift certificates are usually given to the couple at the wedding.
Guests primary obligation at a destination wedding is to help the wedding couple enjoy their wedding trip as much as they can. This means not bombarding them with questions or monopolizing their time. It also means to be sensitive that the trip is also their honeymoon and to give them plenty of "alone time."
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|