Etiquette for Destination Weddings: A Handy Guide

Destination weddings are a magical and emotional experience for couples and their guests. To ensure a flawless and memorable event, it is important to understand the etiquette rules. According to celebrity wedding planner David Tutera and event expert Roxanne Bellamy, key considerations include hiring a travel expert, hiring an experienced wedding planner, planning multiple events and activities, and providing a welcome package for guests.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

  • Destination weddings require careful consideration of etiquette rules.
  • Hiring a travel expert and an experienced wedding planner is crucial for successful planning.
  • Planning multiple events and activities enhances the overall wedding experience.
  • Providing a welcome package for guests is a thoughtful gesture.
  • Etiquette for destination weddings includes various aspects, such as invitations and gifts.

Understanding Destination Weddings

A destination wedding is a dream come true for many couples who choose to celebrate their special day in a location away from home. It offers a unique and unforgettable experience for the couple and their guests. Planning a destination wedding, however, requires careful consideration and attention to detail to ensure a seamless celebration. Here, we dive into the essentials of destination weddings, including choosing the perfect locale and the intricacies of destination wedding planning.

Choosing the Right Destination Wedding Locale

When it comes to selecting the ideal location for your destination wedding, there are a few key factors to consider. Firstly, think about the weather and climate. You’ll want to choose a destination that aligns with your preferred season and offers pleasant weather during that time. Secondly, consider the accessibility of the location. Ensure that it is easily reachable for both you and your guests, with nearby airports or reliable transportation options. Additionally, think about the backdrop and ambiance you envision for your wedding. Whether it’s a picturesque beach like in Hawaii, a historic castle, or a breathtaking mountaintop, choose a locale that reflects your vision and sets the perfect stage for your special day.

Destination Wedding Planning Essentials

Planning a destination wedding involves a few extra considerations compared to a traditional wedding. It’s essential to hire a local wedding planner who is familiar with the destination’s logistics and can assist you in coordinating all the necessary details. This includes booking local vendors, securing the venue, organizing accommodations for the couple and guests, and navigating any legal requirements if getting married abroad. A wedding planner will be your trusted guide throughout the planning process, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and taking the stress off your shoulders.

Destination Wedding Planning Checklist:
Research and choose the perfect wedding locale
Hire a local wedding planner
Book vendors – photographer, caterer, florist, etc.
Secure the wedding venue
Arrange accommodations for the couple and guests
Coordinate travel logistics – flights, transportation, etc.
Ensure all legal requirements are met
Create a detailed itinerary for the wedding events
Communicate essential information to guests

By following these guidelines and working closely with your wedding planner, you can create a destination wedding experience that exceeds your expectations and leaves you with cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

Event Planning for Destination Weddings

Destination weddings are not limited to a single ceremony and reception. They often span multiple days and involve various events and activities. To ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved, it is essential to plan these events with careful consideration.

Rehearsal Dinner

One of the most common events in destination weddings is the rehearsal dinner. It is an opportunity for the bride, groom, and their families to come together and rehearse the upcoming ceremony. This intimate gathering allows everyone to familiarize themselves with the wedding venue and sets the tone for the main event.

Welcome Reception

An excellent way to kick off a destination wedding weekend is with a welcome reception. This event provides an opportunity for the couple to greet their guests and make them feel appreciated and valued. The welcome reception can be a casual affair, where guests can mingle, enjoy refreshments, and get to know each other before the main ceremony.

Other events that couples may consider include group activities like a beach day or sightseeing tour, pre-wedding brunch, and farewell brunch. These additional events add to the overall experience and create lasting memories for everyone involved.

A Typical Event Schedule

Day 1Rehearsal Dinner
Day 2Welcome Reception
Day 3Main Ceremony and Reception
Day 4Farewell Brunch

Remember to schedule some downtime for guests to relax and explore the destination independently. It is important to strike a balance between planned events and free time so that guests can fully enjoy the destination wedding experience.

By carefully planning multiple events and activities, couples can create a memorable and inclusive destination wedding experience for their guests.

Invitation and Save-the-Date Etiquette

When planning a destination wedding, one of the most important considerations is the etiquette surrounding invitations and save-the-dates. Proper communication ensures that your guests have all the necessary information and can make arrangements in advance. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the invitation and save-the-date etiquette for your destination wedding.


Save-the-dates are essential for destination weddings as they give your guests ample time to plan and make necessary arrangements. It is recommended to send save-the-dates at least six months in advance. This allows your loved ones to book their travel, request time off from work, and budget accordingly. Ensure that your save-the-dates include the date, location, and a brief note about the upcoming celebration.

Formal Invitations

Formal invitations should be sent approximately three months before the wedding date, even for guests who have already received a save-the-date. This formal invitation serves as a reminder and includes all the necessary details, such as the ceremony and reception venues, accommodation options, and any additional events planned. It is important to provide a timeline of events so that guests can plan their itineraries accordingly.

Tip:Consider including a small map or directions to the wedding venue in your formal invitation, especially if it is a remote or unfamiliar location.

Wedding Website

A wedding website is an excellent resource for your guests. It allows you to share important details and updates leading up to the wedding. Include the website URL on your save-the-dates and invitations so that guests can easily access all the information they need. Your wedding website should include details such as dress code suggestions, local attractions, accommodation recommendations, and any pertinent travel information.

Quote: “A wedding website not only keeps your guests informed, but it also adds a personal touch to your destination wedding. Share your love story, photos, and any special details that make your wedding unique.” – Wedding Planner, Rachel Johnson

By following these invitation and save-the-date etiquette guidelines, you can ensure that your guests are well-informed and can make the necessary arrangements to attend your destination wedding. Providing all the essential information in a clear and organized manner on your wedding website will make the planning process easier for both you and your guests.

Destination Wedding Gift Etiquette: What to Consider

When attending a destination wedding, it’s important to navigate the gift-giving process with thoughtfulness and consideration. While some couples may view your presence as their present, it’s still common for guests to want to give a gift to celebrate the occasion. Here are some key points to keep in mind when it comes to destination wedding gift etiquette:

Consider the Logistics

When selecting a gift for a destination wedding, it’s crucial to keep the logistics in mind. Since you’ll be traveling, it’s best to choose a gift that is easy to transport and won’t take up much space in your luggage. Consider opting for gifts that are lightweight, compact, or easily shipped directly to the couple’s home.

Think About Their Lifestyle

Take into account the couple’s lifestyle and needs when selecting a gift. If they have a registry, it’s a good idea to choose something from it as it reflects their preferences and desires. However, if they don’t have a registry or you want to give a more personal gift, think about their hobbies, interests, and future plans. For example, if they enjoy cooking, you could gift them a set of high-quality kitchen utensils or a cooking class voucher.

Monetary Gifts and Honeymoon Funds

Monetary gifts are often appreciated by couples having a destination wedding. They allow the couple to use the funds as they wish, whether it’s to cover wedding expenses or put it towards their honeymoon. Some couples even create online honeymoon funds where guests can contribute towards specific experiences or activities they have planned during their trip. If you choose to give a monetary gift, consider presenting it in a thoughtful and personalized way, such as a decorative envelope or card.

Destination Wedding Gift EtiquetteKey Points
LogisticsChoose a gift that is easy to transport or can be shipped directly to the couple’s home.
LifestyleConsider the couple’s hobbies, interests, and future plans when selecting a personal gift.
Monetary GiftsMonetary gifts are often appreciated, allowing the couple to cover wedding expenses or contribute to their honeymoon.

“When attending a destination wedding, it’s important to choose a gift that is thoughtful, practical, and reflective of the couple’s lifestyle. Whether it’s a monetary gift, a personalized item, or a contribution to their honeymoon fund, your gesture of celebration will be appreciated.”

Remember, the most important aspect of giving a gift at a destination wedding is the thought and effort behind it. The couple will be grateful for your presence and grateful for any gift that comes from the heart. Celebrate their special day with a thoughtful token of your love and well wishes.

Bridal Party and Guest Etiquette

Being part of a destination wedding can be an exciting and memorable experience, but it’s important to consider the expenses that come along with it. As a member of the bridal party, you may have additional costs such as travel, accommodation, and attire. It’s thoughtful for couples to consider covering some of these expenses, especially if it fits within their budget. This gesture can help alleviate financial burdens for the bridal party and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.

For guests attending a destination wedding, it’s essential to be mindful of their own expenses. Traveling to a different location and staying for multiple days can add up quickly. As a couple, you can help by providing accommodation options that suit different budgets and offering flexibility in choices. This way, guests can choose options that best fit their financial constraints without feeling obligated to overspend.

When inviting guests to a destination wedding, it’s crucial to understand that not everyone may be able to attend due to various reasons, including financial commitments or other obligations. It’s important to be understanding and not put pressure on guests who decline the invitation. Remember to keep them included in the celebration by setting up a live stream of the wedding, creating a wedding hashtag for social media updates, or involving them in the planning process. And don’t forget to send a thank you card to show appreciation for their support, whether they attended the wedding or not.

Bridal Party ExpensesGuest ExpensesDestination Wedding Guests
– Travel– Travel– Accommodation
– Accommodation– Accommodation– Travel
– Attire– Attire– Attire
– Other miscellaneous costs– Other miscellaneous costs– Other miscellaneous costs

Remember, a destination wedding is about creating lasting memories and celebrating love. By understanding and considering the expenses of the bridal party and guests, couples can ensure that everyone feels included and comfortable throughout the entire experience.

Making it Easy for Your Guests

When planning a destination wedding, it’s important to consider the logistics and travel arrangements for your guests. Ensuring that their journey is smooth and enjoyable will contribute to a positive overall experience. Here are some tips to make it easy for your guests:

  1. Arrange Transportation: Coordinate with local transportation services to provide shuttle services from the airport to their hotels. This will save your guests the hassle of arranging their own transportation and help them feel welcomed from the moment they arrive.
  2. Welcome Package: Prepare a thoughtful welcome package for your guests. Include drinks, snacks, and local information such as maps and brochures to help them navigate the area. This will not only make them feel appreciated but also provide them with helpful resources during their stay.
  3. Plan Activities: Offer a variety of activities and excursions for your guests to participate in during their visit. This can include guided tours, group outings, or recommendations for local attractions. Providing options will allow your guests to customize their experience and make the most of their time at the destination.
  4. Accommodation Choices: Consider offering a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. This can include a selection of hotels, resorts, or even vacation rentals. By providing choices, you’ll enable your guests to find the accommodation that best fits their needs.

Remember, the key is to make your guests feel comfortable and well taken care of throughout the entire wedding celebration. By attending to their needs and providing helpful resources, you’ll ensure that they have a memorable and enjoyable experience.


“The transportation arrangements made by the couple were excellent. We didn’t have to worry about getting to our hotel, and it allowed us to start our vacation stress-free!” – Sarah, Wedding Guest

ActivitiesAccommodation Choices
Guided City TourUpscale Beach Resort
Boat ExcursionBoutique Hotel
Hiking AdventureVacation Rental

Safety Considerations for Destination Weddings

When planning a destination wedding, it is important to prioritize the safety of both the couple and their guests. Understanding potential hazards and taking necessary precautions will help ensure a secure and enjoyable celebration. Here are some key considerations for destination wedding safety:

Research the Destination

Before finalizing your wedding location, thoroughly research the destination to understand any safety risks specific to that area. Check official travel advisories, consult with local experts, and gather information about potential hazards such as extreme weather conditions, political stability, and health risks.

Communicate Safety Precautions to Guests

Once you have chosen your destination, it is essential to communicate any safety precautions or hazards to your guests. Include this information on your wedding website, in your invitations, or in a separate document to ensure everyone is aware and can make informed decisions.

“The safety of our guests is our top priority. Please take note of any safety precautions mentioned on our wedding website and follow the guidelines provided. We want everyone to have a fantastic and safe time at our destination wedding!”

Provide Emergency Contacts

In case of any emergencies, it is wise to provide your guests with emergency contact information. Include local emergency numbers, contact details of the venue or hotel staff, and any other relevant contacts. This will give everyone peace of mind, knowing that help is readily available if needed.

Create a Safety Plan

Work with your wedding planner or venue to develop a comprehensive safety plan for the event. This may include measures such as having first aid kits on hand, ensuring clear evacuation routes, and establishing communication protocols in case of emergencies.

Safety ConsiderationsActions Taken
Extreme weather conditionsRegularly monitoring weather updates and having contingency plans for outdoor events.
Health risksProviding information about necessary vaccinations, medical facilities, and travel insurance.
Local laws and customsInforming guests about any specific laws, regulations, or cultural norms they should be aware of.
Transportation safetyArranging reliable transportation options between venues and assisting with airport transfers.
Security measuresWorking closely with the venue to ensure appropriate security measures are in place.

By prioritizing safety and taking proactive measures, couples can ensure a memorable and worry-free destination wedding experience for themselves and their loved ones.

Planning for Non-Attendees

While it’s disappointing when some guests are unable to attend your destination wedding, there are still ways to include them in the celebration. By incorporating virtual wedding options and leveraging technology, you can ensure that non-attendees feel connected and involved in your special day.

One popular option is to live-stream the wedding ceremony. This allows non-attendees to witness the exchange of vows in real-time and be a part of the joyous moment from afar. Set up a private YouTube channel or use a video conferencing platform to provide a secure and intimate streaming experience for your loved ones.

Additionally, creating a dedicated wedding hashtag can encourage non-attendees to share their well wishes and follow along with the festivities on social media. They can feel connected to the celebration by viewing photos and updates from the event. It’s a wonderful way to include them in the wedding experience and make them feel valued and appreciated.

Virtual Wedding Options

If you want to involve non-attendees in the planning stages, consider seeking their input on certain aspects of the wedding. This could include choosing the wedding playlist, selecting the wedding cake flavor, or even deciding on the color scheme. By involving them in these decisions, you can make them feel included and connected to the wedding planning process. Remember to send a thank you card to each non-attendee after the wedding as a token of gratitude for their support and understanding.

Incorporating virtual wedding options ensures that non-attendees can still be a part of your special day, regardless of their physical presence. Through live-streaming, social media engagement, and involvement in the planning process, you can create an inclusive and memorable experience for all.

Considerations for a Successful Destination Wedding

Planning a destination wedding can be an exciting and memorable experience, but it’s important to consider various factors to ensure its success. Here are some key considerations for couples who want to have a budget-friendly destination wedding, choose off-season dates, and offer inclusive planning:

Budget-Friendly Destination Weddings

One way to make your destination wedding more affordable is to carefully choose your location. Some destinations offer lower costs for accommodations and wedding packages, allowing you to stretch your budget further. Additionally, consider hosting a smaller, more intimate wedding to reduce costs for travel and accommodation expenses for your guests.

Considerations for a Budget-Friendly Destination Wedding
Choose a location with lower costs for accommodations and wedding packages.
Opt for a smaller, more intimate wedding to reduce travel and accommodation expenses for guests.
Plan for off-season dates, when prices may be lower due to decreased demand.
Explore all-inclusive resorts that offer wedding packages to help minimize costs.

Off-Season Weddings

Consider scheduling your destination wedding during the off-season to take advantage of lower prices and fewer crowds. Off-season dates vary depending on the location, so be sure to research the best time to visit your chosen destination. By planning your wedding during this period, you can save money while still enjoying a beautiful and memorable celebration.

Inclusive Planning

Make your destination wedding accessible and inclusive for all guests by providing resources and options that cater to their needs. Create a wedding website with detailed information on accommodations, transportation, and local activities. Offer alternative options for guests with different dietary restrictions or preferences. By being inclusive, you can ensure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable throughout the celebration.

Remember, a successful destination wedding is not just about the location or the cost; it’s about creating unforgettable memories with your loved ones. By considering these tips and planning thoughtfully, you can have the destination wedding of your dreams while keeping it budget-friendly, selecting the perfect time of year, and ensuring inclusivity for all.


Planning a destination wedding is an exciting journey that allows you to celebrate your love in a beautiful and exotic location. By following the etiquette guidelines and considering the needs of your guests, you can create an unforgettable celebration filled with cherished memories.

Remember to hire a travel expert and an experienced wedding planner to ensure seamless coordination and attention to detail. Plan multiple events and activities to make the most of your time with loved ones, and provide a welcome package to make them feel special.

Communicate important information through save-the-dates and formal invitations, and create a wedding website with essential details. Consider your guests’ presence as their gift, but provide a residential address for those who still want to give. Be mindful of the expenses for your bridal party and guests, and make arrangements to ease their financial burden.

Lastly, make it easy for your guests by arranging transportation, providing a welcome package, and offering choices for lodging. Keep safety in mind by informing guests about potential hazards. For those who cannot attend, include them in the celebration through live-streaming or social media updates. With careful planning and consideration, your destination wedding will be a dream come true for everyone involved, creating unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.


What is a destination wedding?

A destination wedding is a wedding that takes place in a location different from where the couple and their guests live.

Why is hiring a travel expert and wedding planner important for a destination wedding?

Hiring a travel expert and an experienced wedding planner is crucial for successful destination wedding planning.

What events and activities should be planned for a destination wedding?

Destination weddings usually span three to five days and involve multiple events and activities, including a rehearsal dinner, welcome reception, main ceremony and reception, and farewell brunch.

When should save-the-dates and invitations be sent for a destination wedding?

Save-the-dates should be sent at least six months in advance, and formal invitations should be sent at the three-month mark.

What is the etiquette for gift-giving at a destination wedding?

While the couple may consider their guests’ presence as their gift, some guests may still want to give a gift. Couples can provide a residential address for guests to send their gifts prior to the wedding or set up a honeymoon fund for monetary donations.

Should couples cover extra costs for the bridal party and be understanding if guests decline the invitation due to financial commitments?

Couples can consider covering some extra costs for the bridal party if it fits within the budget. They should also be understanding if guests decline the invitation due to financial or other commitments.

How can couples make it easier for their guests attending a destination wedding?

Couples can arrange transportation from the airport to the hotels, provide a welcome package with drinks, snacks, and local information, plan activities, and offer choices for lodging.

What safety considerations should couples keep in mind for a destination wedding?

Couples should consider safety hazards at the chosen destination and communicate them to guests in advance. This can include areas or excursions that may be potentially dangerous.

How can couples involve non-attendees in the destination wedding celebration?

Options can include live-streaming the wedding, setting up a hashtag for social media updates, or involving them in the planning stages. Thank you cards should be sent to each guest after the wedding to show appreciation for their support.

What considerations should couples keep in mind for a successful destination wedding?

Couples can consider budget-friendly options, choosing off-season dates, and offering inclusive planning. Hosting a smaller, more intimate wedding can help cover some costs for guests.

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