Destination Wedding Etiquette

by | Wedding Planning Wisdom, Wisdom


The Wedding Haven, The Wedding Haven


Here at The Wedding Haven, we understand that following proper destination wedding etiquette can be stressful, and somewhat confusing as you are trying to juggle a million details and you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. So we’ve decided to guide you through this process by putting together a brief guide that answers some of the most common questions that we’ve received from our lovely couples.

Who pays for what?

Unlike traditional wedding etiquette for a local wedding – i.e. the bride’s family pays for the ceremony, dress and flowers, while the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner and his attire, destination weddings do not follow the same logic! If your parents are somewhat traditional, you’ll find that they might not be too keen on the idea of having their son or daughter getting married abroad.

They’ve probably always dreamed of their little girl (or boy) getting married in front of all their friends, family, and co-workers. And if that’s the case, they may only pay if you follow their wishes. If you want to go over their heads and do it anyway, then you shouldn’t expect them to pay.

In this case, then the bride and groom will pay for their own flights, accommodation, wedding ceremony, reception, food, drinks, and entertainment, as well as pre-wedding and/or post-wedding events. The couple’s families and friends are then expected to pay for their own travel, accommodations, transportation to-and-from the airport, and any activities that are not included in the wedding week itinerary.

What does the bridal party pay for?

The bridal party, including bridesmaids and groomsmen, are typically expected to pay for their own attire and accessories. This includes the bridesmaids’ dresses, shoes, and jewelry, and the groomsmen’s suits, ties, pocket square, and shoes. The ladies must also take into consideration that they are expected to pay for their hair, make-up, and spa appointments.

However, if you happen to have some extra money left in your budget, it would be a nice gesture to pitch in. Even if you can’t help financially, try to go easy on their pockets by choosing a dress / suit that is not too expensive, and that can be worn again in the future.


Should we send out formal wedding invitations and save-the-dates?

This is really a matter of choice. Some couples opt to go the formal way and send out printed wedding invitations and save-the-dates to their guests, while others prefer to use modern technology and online applications to send out ‘evites’.

Whatever you choose, make sure that you send out your save-the-dates sooner rather than later given that destination weddings do require a lot of planning ahead of time. From taking time off work to getting the necessary travel documents, you have to give your guests enough time to get all their paperwork in order (from applying to passports to saving some money). Nine to 12 months is usually recommended for save-the-dates, and printed wedding invitations should be sent at least ten weeks before the wedding date.

What information should be included in my save-the-date and wedding invitations?

This is an absolutely crucial question! Just as its name suggests, save-the-dates are usually intended to give your guests a heads up about your wedding date and location. It should be sweet, short, and straight to the point. I suggest including a picture of yourselves to give it more of a personalized touch!

On the other hand, wedding invitations should include more information about the location, ceremony / reception times, and your wedding URL if you have one (which gives your guests information about the destination, hotel, transportation, maps, and airport information). Some couples also opt to include the ceremony location (beach, church, ballroom) so that their guests have an idea of what to wear.

Are guests expected to bring gifts to a destination wedding? 

Depending on the location of the wedding, it can be quite difficult to carry larger items – who wants to be carrying a blender to the Caribbean? Not me! So guests usually tend to bring smaller or monetary gifts.

However, do keep in mind that your guests have spent a bit of money just to celebrate your wedding with you, so a nice thing to do would be to tell your guests that their presence is their gift. You can also choose to include a polite line on your registry page that lets your guests know to send gifts directly to your or your family’s address – aim for grace and tact at all times.


Are we responsible for hosting pre-wedding and post-wedding events like a rehearsal dinner or farewell brunch? 

The bride and groom, or their families, can host pre-wedding and post-wedding events, but there is no set rule that says that it is a requirement. However, since most of your guests have travelled a long way just to be with you on your big day, I’m sure they would appreciate it!

Pre-wedding events are also a good way for your guests to meet each other prior to the wedding day – it is a bonding experience for all. Keep in mind not to go over-board with too many activities, your guests will want to venture out on their own, explore the destination, relax and enjoy their vacation, so give them time to do that. Plus you’ll want to save some of your energy for the big day!


Images by Eric Cheng Photography


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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Great advice – particularly about sending out save the date cards early.

About The Wedding Haven: We specialize in creating and planning one of a kind destination weddings that are inspired by the couple’s own story, uniqueness, and experiences. It is our passion that drives the work that we do. Whatever your dream is, we will bring your vision to life!  Oh, and we speak English, Spanish, and Arabic!

  • Jessica says:
    March 12, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Great advice – and definitely well needed 🙂



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