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Destination Wedding Etiquette: Who Pays for a Destination Wedding?

Marrying the love of your life on a tropical island may sound like a dream. But try to consider the amount of money, time, and planning that actually goes into a destination wedding.

One of the most stressful and important things to think about when planning a destination wedding is the cost. With all the things that go into the wedding, things can start to quickly add up. But, just because your destination wedding may be overseas, does not mean wedding etiquette rules do not apply.

Learn the do’s and don’ts of destination wedding etiquette.

Who Pays for What in a Destination Wedding?

If you’re stressing on who is responsible for certain costs of your destination wedding, this guide will break down each potential wedding guest and what they should and should not pay for.

The Parents of the Bride and Groom

With traditional wedding etiquette, the bride’s parents should expect to pick up the bill for paying for most of the wedding expenses. This includes things like bridal attire, floral arrangements, and reception. It is a traditional etiquette rule for the groom’s family to pay for marriage licenses, wedding rings, and honeymoon costs. However, depending on financial situations and familial traditions, the parents may or may not be willing to chip in for your destination wedding.

The Couple Getting Married 

Usually, the couple is already paying for most of the expenses, so they are not usually expected to pick up the bill for their guests. It’s important for your guests to know that up-front, so they can plan their own airfare, lodging, activities, attire, and whatever else they might need for your destination wedding.

However, there may be exceptions. If there is a very important guest, like your grandma or best man that cannot afford to attend, don’t feel bad about paying for their trip if you so choose. Just keep it on the DL so no one else feels left out! 

buttoning wedding dress

The Wedding Guests 

As stated before, guests should expect to pay for travel, hotel rooms, what they wear, and other activities they may want to do while on a mini-vacation for your wedding. It is pretty expensive to attend a wedding, no matter where it is being held, so know how important it is that some guests may not be able to make your wedding.

It may be considerate to research and suggest more affordable hotels in the area. Sometimes, hotels and resorts offer group rates on the rooms. Hotels and resorts also offer special rates for bigger groups who all book rooms in the same place. Airlines may do special group packages, as well.

Another thing to consider is suggesting your guests to not bring any gifts. They may already be spending a big amount of money in order to attend your destination wedding. Cutting the extra cost of a gift could be beneficial to them.

The Wedding Party

There are other things that bridesmaids and groomsmen should expect to shell out. Things like dresses, tuxes, hair and makeup, and any other necessary accessories. Other things like food and drink not otherwise covered by the couple are an out of pocket expense, too.

bridesmaids

 

Destination Wedding Etiquette Tips 

  1. Give Guests Extra Notice
  2. Help Arrange Travel Plans
  3. Be Transparent About Costs
  4. Consider your Gift Policy
  5. Account for Cultural Differences 

 

Give Guests Extra Notice 

When you’re planning a wedding, you typically send save-the-dates 6 to 12 months in advance. But how early should you send invitations for a destination wedding?

Depending on the destination of your wedding, guests may need time to plan and purchase flights, book hotel accommodations, get time off of work, and perhaps even get a passport. Because of this, you should give guests extra notice about a destination wedding compared to a wedding at home.

Send your save-the-dates as early as possible, once your date is set and destination and venue is booked. There’s no such thing as too early. For formal invitations, try to send them 3-4 months before the wedding. This should give guests ample time to make any necessary arrangements.

 

Help Arrange Travel Plans

travel plans

When you send your formal invitations, you should also offer guests as much helpful information as possible about the destination and accommodations. This may include airport and flight information, customs information if your destination is out of the country, hotel information, and more.

Many couples who throw a destination wedding section off a block of rooms or offer different accommodation options for their guests. Try to offer a range of options so that guests can choose what fits their budget.

Try to provide as much information as possible so that guests can easily plan how they will attend your wedding day. Your wedding website is a great place to answer any questions guests may have and offer resources.

 

Be Transparent About Costs

Destination weddings can be expensive, not just for the bride and groom, but for guests as well. Be transparent with your guests about the costs they’ll have to take on to attend your wedding. Try to supply them with an estimate of the travel expenses before they RSVP so that they know what they’re signing up for. You should also be clear what they must pay for versus what is covered in the cost of the wedding.

 

Consider your Gift Policy 

Gifts are obviously standard at a wedding, and there are certain rules about gift etiquette in place. For a destination wedding, however, you may want to reconsider your policy on gifts. Depending on your destination, guests will have to spend a lot of money to attend your wedding. You might consider letting your guests know that gifts are not necessary, or that their presence is enough of a gift.

small gift

Another option is to choose lower budget gifts on your wedding registry. This way, guests can choose to give smaller gifts rather than larger ones. If you don’t have a registry, tell guests that gifts are not necessary or make it clear what they can get you.

You should also consider that guests may not be able to fit large gifts with their luggage. If you do ask for gifts, try to keep them physically small or even virtual, like donations to your honeymoon fund or other online gifts.

 

Account for Cultural Differences

Destination wedding etiquette includes etiquette at your actual destination. You should be sure to account for the culture of the destination where your wedding will take place. For example, in some countries, tips are not customary and may even be considered rude. Research the culture of your location so that you understand local customs and practices.

Be sensitive to the culture of your destination so that you can respect their practices and values. You should also be sure to avoid cultural appropriation. For example, a Hawaiian themed wedding in Hawaii may be insulting or inappropriate if you misuse their culture.

 

Final Thoughts

Consider destination wedding etiquette when planning your wedding trip! While destination weddings can be expensive, they’re also a great experience for the bride and groom and all of their guests.

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