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Etiquette 101: Destination Weddings

091514-destination-01You’ve found the perfect location for your wedding – and it’s nowhere near your home. It’s time to plan a destination wedding! All the usual wedding etiquette guidelines apply, but whether you’re marrying on the beach, in Las Vegas, or overseas, there are some extra things to remember as you plan your dream destination day.

Give Plenty of Notice

We love destination weddings, but they can be challenging for guests. Anytime you’re expecting any or all of your guests to travel a great distance to your wedding, you need to give them plenty of notice. Your guests need time to make travel arrangements and request time off from work. Some may even need to start saving money so they can come to your wedding.

For most weddings, invitations are sent out six weeks in advance; save-the-date cards can go out as early as 6 months in advance.

For a destination wedding, send save-the-date cards at least 3-4 months in advance – further out, if you can. It’s not unusual for couples planning a destination wedding to send out save-the-date cards 8-12 months in advance. Invitations can go out 6-8 weeks in advance.

Invitations should be sent to everyone who received a save-the-date card.

Be Understanding

Know from the outset that there will be people who just come to your wedding. The cost of travel, hotel, food, clothing, etc. will be out of reach. Perhaps they can’t get that much time off from work. Maybe a health condition prevents them from traveling long distances. Don’t be offended – know that they would be there if they could.

The same goes for the men and women you’d like to be in your bridal party. Some members won’t be able to afford the travel costs on top of wedding day attire. Appreciate their honesty, and respect their decision. Offer to help if you get a “no” from someone you can’t imagine your wedding without.

Entertain Your Guests

We know you’ll be busy in the days before your wedding with last-minute details and parties, but don’t forget the guests who have traveled to be with you! Include them in pre-wedding festivities, and research local tourism and sight-seeing opportunities. Look for (or plan) fun group activities. And don’t forget the kids; make sure you include kid-friendly activities on your list. A packet of brochures and a list of tours, sights, and events can be left in guests’ hotel rooms as part of a welcome package.

Offer to Help

It’s common for couples to reserve a block of hotel rooms for their guests, and a destination wedding should be no different. Ask your location for other ways they can help your guests, from rate discounts to coupons or freebies. Your guests will appreciate it.

You can also offer to help members of your bridal party by picking up some of their travel or attire costs.

Plan a Second Party

Celebrate with friends and family who couldn’t travel to your wedding with a second reception when you get home. You can even put on your gown again! At a second reception, guests are not expected to bring gifts.