A destination wedding is a romantic and exotic version of a wedding in which the wedding party and guests travel to a far-off location for the ceremony and reception. Often a great way to combine a vacation or honeymoon with a wedding, there are nonetheless some important destination wedding etiquette concerns. Remember that travel is expensive and may take time to arrange; be sure to be considerate of the guests' needs when thinking about etiquette for destination weddings.
Destination wedding etiquette begins with an extended time frame; it is impolite to give guests a month's notice that they must fly to Tahiti. Try to give people at least a year's advance notice by using save-the-date invitations, eventually followed by a formal invitation. If the wedding is at a hotel or resort, contact the managers to see if a block of rooms can be set aside for a period of time to allow for guest bookings for the wedding. Send guests information about the hotel or nearby accommodations, airlines that service the area, and transportation information.
Generally, destination wedding etiquette suggests that guests pay their own travel expenses. If it is a small wedding with only family attending, the family throwing the wedding may choose to book rooms or rent an accommodation that holds everyone. Since destination weddings are costly to attend, it may be thoughtful to let guests know that gifts are not required. If a person is spending a significant amount of money to attend a wedding, his or her presence should really be gift enough.
In terms of activities, the wedding party is generally required to throw the wedding and reception, with a possible rehearsal dinner or morning-after party. Other than that, guests should make their own plans in terms of food and entertainment. Some wedding parties will also offer additional trips, parties, or events, but these are entirely optional.
One way to handle destination wedding etiquette in a situation where many guests cannot afford to fly or travel to the wedding is to have a reception at home. This allows the wedding to be a small, intimate affair while still allowing the majority of friends and family to join in the celebration. Generally, the reception is held upon returning from the honeymoon.
Traditional destination wedding etiquette suggests that guests be given small parting gifts after the destination reception that serve as a thank-you for their willingness to come so far for the wedding. These may be personalized keepsakes or local gifts from the destination. If a destination wedding is followed by an at-home reception, simple wedding favors will suffice.