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The Do’s and Don’ts of Destination Wedding Etiquette

A lawn with a table set up at dusk for a destination wedding.

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When to send save the dates, what to wear, do you invite plus ones, do you need wedding favors, what to give as a gift, and so on. There are a lot of questions about wedding dos and don’ts, for both the couple and the guests. A destination wedding brings even more questions about wedding etiquette for guests and for the couple.

There are questions about travel and activities and outfits and budgets, and we’re previously our own do’s and don’t of wedding planning. We understand that destination wedding etiquette can be overwhelming, so we’ve compiled our list of specific wedding dos and don’ts for the destination wedding of your dreams. 

beach wedding

The Do’s of Destination Weddings for Couples 

Destination wedding etiquette for the couple focuses on the planning, communication, and expectations for the event. Our biggest destination wedding tip and our number one “do” is to start planning early. For your sake, and your guests, giving enough time to sort out the logistics and the travel is ideal. Luckily, Destify makes dealing with some of the logistics easier, and all-inclusive weddings mean there’s less to organize. 

Do consider your guest list, and their budgets. While it is your wedding, aiming for a destination and a venue that you know your guests can afford will make it easier for them to celebrate with you. Remember that not everyone you invite will be able to make it. Between travel costs, time off of work, childcare, and other commitments, attending a destination wedding can be a challenge. 

Destination wedding etiquette also focuses on communication. Do communicate clearly with your guests. This will help them plan better, and hopefully mean fewer follow-up questions on your end. A wedding website is a great way to provide details about the destination, travel options, itinerary, accommodations, information about registries, expectations, and logistics. Clear communication includes the invitations – mention what’s included (meals, activities, etc.), and be clear about plus ones. The more clear information there is upfront, the fewer questions there will be later. 

In relation to travel and accommodations, avoid overcomplicated travel. Hotels and resorts often provide transportation to and from airports, but making that information clear to guests can ease some of the travel-related stress for everyone. 

A destination wedding couple at sunset on the beach

Destination Wedding Etiquette for Guests 

Destination weddings tend to have a much smaller guest list than traditional weddings. If your invitation does not include a plus one, respect that the couple likely did not have enough capacity – not that they don’t like your significant other. 

The earlier you RSVP the better. Destination weddings come with a lot of logistics – hotels, meals, travel plans, and coordination. The earlier the couple knows who is attending, the faster they can start planning the logistics. 

The happy couple has enough to plan and sort out. If you do have questions about the logistics or anything related to the wedding, try to find the answers before asking the bride or groom. Check the wedding website, ask someone from the wedding party, or check the hotel/resort website. 

One of the most common wedding etiquette questions is a variation of “what should I spend on a gift?” Despite being a destination wedding, there is still the tradition that any wedding invitation comes with the obligation of sending a gift to the couple. However, if the destination is particularly expensive, you can opt for a lower-cost gift. 

Sometimes couples may request no gifts to alleviate some of the budget constraints, and in that case, it is up to you to bring a gift or not. When it comes to gifts for destination weddings, don’t plan to bring the gift with you. Even if it’s just cash or a check. There is no need to risk something going wrong with your luggage.  

Destination weddings tend to involve more than just a ceremony and reception. The couple might plan activities such as a welcome dinner, brunches or other meals, excursions, and local cultural experiences. Aim to participate in these activities! Not only are they fun, but the couple worked to plan them for you! 

Destination Wedding Don’ts

Some wedding do’s and don’ts are common sense, but there are certain destination wedding don’ts to consider. Destination wedding tips on what to avoid involve the schedule and local customs. While no one can predict travel delays, and no one hopes for travel delays, one key factor in destination wedding scheduling is ensuring your ceremony isn’t on the first full day. Provide a buffer day between guests’ arrival and the ceremony to account for possible delays.  

Don’t ignore local customs and culture. Respect and embrace the local culture, and make sure you and your guests are aware of local traditions or elements that may be important. Do vendors and staff expect tips? Are there proper greetings you should be using? 

In addition to respecting the local culture, don’t neglect local regulations and requirements. If you want your destination wedding to be legally binding and not just a symbolic celebration, make sure you research the requirements. Don’t forget to have all your documents and paperwork in place. 

Don’t forget a backup plan. Don’t schedule your destination wedding during hurricane season or peak travel season, unless you’re prepared for your plans to change. For your own sake, as a guest or as one getting married, don’t overspend. Weddings can be expensive, trips can be expensive, and when you combine the two there is the potential to overspend. Aim to stick to your budget. 

destination wedding dos and donts

There are a lot of destination wedding tips and nuances to consider. However, if a destination wedding is your dream, Destify is here to create meaningful memories. We’ll help you plan all the ins and outs, prepare for a plan B, and ensure your guests have all the details, so you can have the wedding you deserve without all the worry. 

Our expert team will help you navigate the destination wedding planning process, from finding your destination to saying “I do!” Planning a wedding shouldn’t be stressful, and Destify will take some of the stress away so couples and wedding guests can focus on the fun. 

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