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A Guide to Destination Wedding Etiquette

Updated: Nov 29, 2018

Destination weddings can give friends & family a reason for luxury travel to an exotic locale, but there are also some conveniences that must be considered when planning these events. Although you're providing guests with a special opportunity to vacation while celebrating your new marriage, it's important to ensure they have the most comfortable trip possible. The more you plan ahead for your big day at a far off destination, whether it's Cancun or the Caribbean, the happier your loved ones will be. Plus – you'll likely see a higher attendance when you say "I do."

Give plenty of notice Advanced notice is crucial when it comes to destination weddings. Martha Stewart magazine advises sending out "Save the Dates" at least six months before the wedding, but the more notice, the better. That gives guests the chance to capitalize on lower air fare & group hotel rates. Several weeks after mailing those announcements, you will likely have a substantial amount of RSVPs to give you a clearer idea of who will be attending. Several months before the actual wedding date, send out the official invite with a link to your wedding website, where you can provide guests with all the information they need for planning their trip. It's also helpful to give them some notice about any events you're organizing during their stay so that they're able to budget & pack appropriately.

Help where you can Couples often wonder if they're expected to shell out for their friends' & family's travel costs. There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to covering expenses for your guests, but Martha Stewart magazine recommended making the effort to help a guest who is truly struggling, whether it's the maid of honor or a relative. According to CNN, Steven Petrow, author of etiquette guides & New York Times columnist, agreed. He stressed that couples should budget for these situations before deciding whether they can afford a destination wedding. All inclusive resorts are ideal because guests have a clearer idea of how much they'll be spending & are less likely to be hit with any hidden costs.

Regardless, it's important to be up front from the beginning so that guests know what to expect & how much to save. There are plenty of ways you can lend a hand to guests that don't involve paying for their flight, however. Consider sending them a guide to the destination, booking a group tour or giving them a credit to the resort's spa as a thank you.

You want to make things as easy as possible for attendees once they arrive. If they're arriving in groups at the same airport, book a shuttle bus or van to bring them to the hotel. Keep guests organized if they're staying at different hotels by arranging for a bus to pick them up on the day of the wedding & drive them to the venue.

Extend a warm welcome A welcome package is another nice way to treat guests who have traveled a far distance for your special day. Include a personalized note, a copy of the wedding itinerary & other items that will make their stay more pleasant. A list of contact information will reassure groomsmen & bridesmaids that they can get in touch with each other if need be. It can also be helpful to set up email or text reminders for particular events throughout their stay.

Simple items like flip flops & sunscreen are especially useful for beach weddings. Since the temperature tends to drop at night, you could also include a scarf or a light shawl for ladies to drape around their shoulders. Leaving a bottle of bubbly in guests' rooms is sure to bring a smile to their faces & get them in a celebratory mood.

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