Last week, I wrote about things wedding couples should keep in mind when many guests will be traveling long distances. This week is specifically about destination weddings, when the bride and groom decide to have the wedding at a place not local to either of them. Tourist locations are the most common destination weddings, particularly those in warm locales with beaches. With so much involved, consider ways you can help guests enjoy what should be a vacation for all.
Pay for the Bridal Party’s Accommodations
Destinations weddings are expensive to attend. Etiquette states the bridal couple should foot the hotel bill for groomsmen and bridesmaids. If the couple’s families are paying, the bride’s family pays for the bridesmaids and the groom’s family pays for the groomsmen. Other costs, such as travel, do not need to be covered.
Invite Everyone to the Rehearsal Dinner
Wedding etiquette dictates out-of-town guests should always be invited to a rehearsal dinner, but this is particularly important for a destination wedding. Spend as much time as possible with them, lest they feel like a secondhand guest. If there is a brunch the next day everyone should be invited to that as well.
Organize a Group Activity
You’ve found a great location for the wedding, so take advantage of it. Find something the locale offers that guests would not normally get to experience.
Don’t Expect Cell Service Outside the US
We are very used to making and changing plans at the last minute with cell phones. However, most cell plans only cover the United States. They simply will not work outside the country. Even if you have an international plan, all of your guests probably do not, so planning everything ahead of time thorough detailed communication is really crucial.
Don’t Expect Expensive Gifts
Travel may already be breaking people’s budgets, so don’t be surprised if gifts are minimal. You may even express there is no need for gifts, that you consider their presence to be gift enough.
Provide Welcome Gifts
Many couples at destination weddings offer guests a gift bag upon arrival. These often contain useful items such as sunscreen, but they may also contain something intended to be taken home. Just remember such gifts have to fit into suitcases and pass TSA inspection if guests are flying.
Gift bags can also include local maps, schedules, points of interests and other information but vital and helpful. This information has hopefully been previously shared, but it’s a handy backup for guests who forgot theirs at home. This also allows for last minute changes to plans to be communicated.
Destination weddings are a serious undertaking for both the wedding couple and their guests. It’s meant to be an experience everyone will remember, so do your best to assist guests in enjoying the event. Be considerate, anticipating problematic aspects of the trip and mitigate them when possible. Provide plenty of communication, and show your appreciation by including everyone in as many things as possible. Make attending a destination wedding a vacation rather than a chore.
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