What You Should Know About Destination Wedding Etiquette

destination wedding etiquette

Just because you’re having a destination wedding doesn’t mean that the rules of wedding etiquette go out the window. The main considerations for destination wedding etiquette are who pays for what and what kind of attire you may need. Because a destination wedding can run several thousands of dollars, you may even want to ask guests to chip in beyond the ordinary travel expenses. Whatever you decide, just make sure that everyone is on-board with your plans beforehand to avoid any wedding day unpleasantness.

destination wedding etiquette


Destination weddings are often outside the box, so what you wear at one can be too. These types of weddings can be as informal or formal as the couple desires, and the traditional white wedding may even be out of place depending on your location. Before deciding on the theme, research the area where you will have your ceremony performed to get an idea of what couples typically wear there, and be practical. A long train will be out of place on the beach, but it will be perfectly acceptable in a resort’s reception room.

If you’re going the traditional route, you will need formal and evening attire along with your wedding attire. You will also want to bring some casual clothes and beach attire if you plan to do any touring or want to relax. For a casual beach wedding, you may opt for a dressed-down look with casual dresses and khakis. Make sure the guests know what the expected attire is beforehand though so that you don’t have a guest in coattails while everyone else is in polos.

While it might be tempting to make wardrobe purchases at your destination, you should have everything planned and paid for before you leave. Use garment bags for your wedding attire, and if possible, bring them as carry-on luggage to prevent any potential disaster like damage from the cargo hold or the airline losing your outfit. If you do want to wear local attire, plan to get to your destination early so that you have time to find something you love rather than whatever fits.


Who Pays For What?

Your guests will be responsible for their hotel rooms, transportation to and from the destination and any activities and meals outside of wedding events. If your guests are part of the wedding party, the bride and her family traditionally pay for the lodging for the bridesmaids while the groom and his family pay for the groomsmen. The wedding party should expect to pay for outside activities and meals as well as formal attire, travel and grooming. The bride’s family should cover the cost of the reception and ceremony while the groom’s family should pay for rehearsal.

what to know about destination weddings

The bride is responsible for the groom’s ring, a gift for the groom and her attendants and any beauty treatments. The groom is responsible for the bride’s engagement and wedding rings, any licensing fees, the honeymoon, a gift for the bride, the bouquet, gifts for his attendants and other floral arrangements like corsages and boutonnieres.

With all of the expenses a wedding can rack up, you may not have the funds to pay for it all. While it may be traditional for the bride, groom and their families to cover costs, it may also not be realistic. If you can’t afford to pay the entire cost of lodging for your bridesmaids and groomsmen, do your best to help them out with part of the cost instead. Look for group rates and discounts, or offer to meet them halfway. These people are your friends and family, and as long as you are honest about your financial situation well in advance, your guests should not feel put upon. Just keep in mind that your guests may have financial difficulties of their own, so do your best to not make them feel obligated to spend money they don’t have.

If you let your guests know ahead of time, you may even receive some monetary help for things like fittings or beauty treatments, but you shouldn’t count on your guests for charity. If funds are tight, be realistic about your situation. Look at your plans, and look at what you can do without. You may not need to invite every person you know or have an open bar to enjoy your dream wedding. With the right planning, your destination wedding can be a place you travel to in your memories all lifelong.

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