Destination weddings provide a unique set of challenges not applicable to weddings close to home. When planning a wedding away, consider the following destination wedding etiquette guidelines:
Destination Wedding Etiquette: Save-the-Dates
As destination weddings require guests to book time off work, make travel arrangements, and put a dent in their budgets, send out save-the-dates six months in advance of the wedding date. This gives guests time to prepare for the event; the heads up increases the odds of friends and family being able to attend your special day. Some may even choose to extend your destination wedding into their annual vacation.
Destination Wedding Etiquette: The Bridal Shower
Invite people to your shower who are also going to be invited to your destination wedding. You don't want friends to feel obligated to give gifts when they're not invited to participate in the larger event. If you do opt to have a larger bridal shower, have a member of your bridal party inform shower guests that you're having an intimate affair and won't be able to invite many. If there's to be an at-home reception following the wedding, let your shower guests know in advance. You don't want them to feel conned out of a gift; you want them to celebrate with you.
Destination Wedding Etiquette: The Guest List
Keep your destination-wedding guest list streamlined. Don't send out invites to everyone you know, assuming that most won't show up. Nearly 70% of people invited to a destination wedding will attend. An appealing location will have friends and family excited to witness your nuptials abroad.
Some couples follow up with destination weddings with at-home receptions. Even if your destination-wedding guest list and at-home-reception lists overlap considerably, keep them separate; you'll stay more organized and avoid the overwhelming financial burden associated with having too many people show up for your wedding abroad.
If you don't want children at your destination wedding, don't include "and family" on invitations and be prepared to have friends with children to send their regrets; it may be hard to leave kids behind.
Destination Wedding Etiquette: Gifts
If you register for gifts, don't print the registry information on the invitations. You don't want to look like you're demanding gifts. Have a member of your bridal party or family spread the word about gifts, including where to send them should the individual decide not to attend. And don't expect gifts from people who can't attend your destination wedding.
Destination Wedding Etiquette: Money Matters
Destination weddings can be very expensive for guests. While they'll most likely be responsible for their own transportation and accommodations, make sure that they don't have to pay for any wedding-related events at the destination. Cover their meals at the wedding, reception dinner and post-wedding brunch. Be clear in advance as to what their financial responsibilities will be. You don't want friends and families resenting a surprise financial burden. Try to provide guests with affordable options for both nearby lodgings and transportation. Even though you're not paying, your efforts in researching group discounts will be very appreciated.
Consider gifting guests with a welcome basket or token of appreciation when they arrive at the location. Show them that you cherish the efforts taken to spend your special day with you.