Destination Wedding Etiquette

~Celebrating A World Away~

Destination wedding etiquette is wonderful for when you are involved with a wedding that you get to travel to. You will be able to relax and celebrate this fantastic occasion in a beautiful setting.

A destination wedding is a wedding that is being held in a location other than wheredestination wedding etiquette the bride and groom are from. The locations are generally beautiful, exotic and have a special meaning to the bride and groom.

They require the wedding party and guests to travel and spend time in the beautiful location. These weddings can span a long weekend or an entire week.

As with any wedding etiquette, there are a number of things to consider if you are planning a destination wedding or if you have been invited to one. We will cover the basics of destination wedding etiquette so that you can spend the time enjoying yourself.

Travel Costs

The question often comes up... "Who pays for what with the wedding and travel costs associated with this type of wedding?" 

The bride, groom and their families are responsible for the cost of the wedding and all activities surrounding it, this includes the rehearsal dinner and wedding meal. Anything that the guests are invited to participate in should be taken care of. They also should help pay for the travel and lodging expenses of the wedding party, however this is not required. 

Guests need to cover the expenses for travel, lodging, meals other than those involved with the wedding and any entertainment not associated with the wedding. It is normal for a guest to spend between $700 to $1500 to attend a destination wedding.

Guest Lists and Invitations

The bride and groom should complete their guest list as quickly as possible. With normal destination wedding etiquette, the guest lists are generally smaller than those for a traditional wedding.  It should also be understood that not all the guests you invite will be able to attend. Taking this into consideration will help the bride and groom with numbers.

A save the date card should be sent out at least 4 months prior to the wedding. It is acceptable to send them out as early as 6 months. This allows the guests to make all of the travel arrangements, as well as any childcare arrangements that may be needed.

If the bride and groom are planning to have a reception closer to their home after the wedding, a separate guest list and invitation will be needed. This will help them to keep their guests and numbers in order.

Bride and Groom

The bride and groom get to celebrate their vows in a location that is special to them. They will need to choose this location quickly and begin making the travel and lodging plans as soon as they can. It is important for them to:
  • make up the guest list
  • book a hotel for them and their guests (who will pay for their own lodging)
  • secure the location where they would like the ceremony to take place
  • make arrangements for the clergy who will be performing the ceremony
  • obtain the appropriate marriage license
The faster these arrangements are made, the smoother the wedding will go.


It is a wonderful honor to be invited to attend a wedding of this nature. Guests can take this time to celebrate the wedding and have a vacation at the same time. They should participate in all of the wedding activities that they are invited to. At the same time they should also take time to see the sights or find good entertainment for themselves.

destination wedding etiquette 2It is good destination wedding etiquette to give the bride and groom the time that they need to be together. After all, they are starting their new life. Guests should not expect to be entertained the entire time.


A destination wedding presents some unusual circumstances for gifts. When my husband and I attended the destination wedding for a friend of ours, we did not want to pack around the wedding gift. Fortunately for us, the couple was registered and we were able to purchase our gift and the company wrapped and delivered it for us.

It is a good idea for couples to register with companies that offer this type of service as it gives your guests the option of having your gift delivered to your home rather than packing them to and from the wedding.

Good wedding gift giving etiquette is shown when a gift is purchased for the couple and deliver it to their home prior to the wedding or right after. It is also acceptable for guests to give the couple money. It is easy to transport and often comes in handy.

Other than following these few destination wedding etiquette tips, take the time to enjoy yourself. Sharing this moment in a beautiful place is a wonderful way to celebrate and cherish loved ones.

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