Avoid Common Destination Wedding Blunders: 9 Etiquette Tips

There'll be smooth sailing ahead when you follow these destination wedding etiquette tips.

Published March 11, 2023
beach wedding party

Everyone wants their wedding to be special, and with social media trends encouraging you to share your wedding with the world mere seconds after it happens, the pressure's on. For some people, their ideal wedding is getting married far away from their simple hometowns. Yet, with big travel expenses and extended time off, planning these far-off weddings can be difficult. So long as you follow certain destination wedding etiquette when you're planning or attending one, you'll avoid trending online for the wrong reasons.

Destination Wedding Etiquette Tips for the People Getting Married

If you've hired a wedding planner, then they should know how to properly handle a destination wedding so you get to free up some stress there. If you're planning it all yourselves, then you've got your work cut out for you.

Destination weddings have a certain reputation, and it's not exactly a good one. Ensure your guests have a glowing experience by following these destination wedding etiquette tips.

Limit Guests' Other Expenses for a Bigger Turnout

If you're dead set on having more than about 15 people show up to your destination wedding, then you should cut as many expenses as possible that guests would typically incur during a regular wedding. They're already going to be paying for travel, (potentially) the hotel, food before and after the actual wedding, and more.

For instance, maybe you can rent a large space where some guests can stay for free. If that's too much, you can help offset their costs by paying for some of their meals. Of course, if you can't afford to do those things, don't run to the nearest bank and take out a loan. Instead, just be realistic about the number of people who are going to actually show up if you can't cut any costs.

If They'll Need a Passport, Give Them a Year to Plan

Not every destination wedding involves people flying outside of their country, but many of them do, and that requires people to have a passport. Don't assume that everyone has a passport to begin with, and give guests ample notice so they can schedule their appointment and get one. Even the expedited process takes far longer than advertised, so you should give people enough time.

Create a Reliable Itinerary ASAP

Guests need to know as soon as possible the full itinerary of what events are going to happen and what's being expected of them. You should send a detailed itinerary of the times and locations of the things you want your guests to attend while they're there so they can plan stuff to do and see in their downtime.

Often, guests will combine a destination wedding with a vacation, so it's great if you can help them easily marry the two by keeping them up to date with new information.

Don't Change Your Plans a Thousand Times

A destination wedding is not the time to be indecisive. Your guests are relying on you to plan the event, so you shouldn't mention anything to anyone until it's definitely happening. Guests could get their own hotel or Airbnb based on the proximity to your events, and if you change those, it could turn out to be way out of the way. Don't inconvenience anyone by mentioning stuff before it's 100% planned out.

Personally Reach Out to Anyone Who Can't Attend

Whether it's because they're strapped for cash, can't take the time off, or have serious anxiety about traveling across the world for a single event, people shouldn't be shamed for not being able to attend a destination wedding. Inevitably, they feel worse about saying no than you feel about hearing it, so it's important for you as the person asking extra of them to reach out and assuage any guilt or worry they had about saying no.

Destination Wedding Etiquette Tips for Guests

Small wedding party on beach

If you've been asked to go to a destination wedding, then you might feel overwhelmed and unsure about the entire thing. Ultimately, you should make a decision that's comfortable for you, but we're here to help you navigate any response with grace.

Don't Flip-Flop on Your RSVP

You should treat an RSVP as a one-and-done situation. Don't respond a 'yes' to a destination wedding unless you are 100% ready to attend. If you have even the slightest doubt, wait to RSVP. However, don't wait forever because you're avoiding having to answer no. Just make sure the first answer you give is the one you're sticking with.

Get the Details Upfront

A destination wedding can sound so glamorous and exciting that you hop on the bandwagon right away and then realize when the date nears that it's way more expensive or challenging than you expected. Information is power, and you should get as much information as possible before giving an answer.

If the people getting married don't send you the information alongside the invite, then reach out to the one you're closest to with your questions. Ask things like "How many days are they expecting people to be there?' and "Are you covering any part of travel or the hotel?" It can be awkward asking financial-based questions, but you can't make a real decision without having all the information.

Be Honest About Why You're Not Going (if You're Not Going)

No matter how close you are to someone, a destination wedding is a really big ask, and there's no penalty for you not attending one. But when you respond, you should be honest about why you're not going. There might be a workaround if you voice your concerns from the beginning. And there might not be. You owe it to yourself and your friends or family to be transparent about the situation.

Don't Make It About You

You'd be surprised at how easy it is for people to forget when they're going to a destination wedding that they're not going on vacation but heading to a highly personal and emotional event instead. You might be tempted to offer some activities or suggestions to the happy couple of stuff you want to do, but keep those thoughts inside. Inevitably, there will be room in between events or after/before the wedding for you to get in all the sights and activities you want to do.

There Should Be Smooth Sailing Ahead

Destination weddings have an obvious allure, and for some couples, they're what they dream about. But they come with their own challenges and both the couple and guests should be ready to navigate some murky waters. Thankfully, you've got a blueprint for what you should and shouldn't do when handling any destination wedding.

Avoid Common Destination Wedding Blunders: 9 Etiquette Tips