Q&A: What is the proper guest etiquette for a destination wedding? - Destination Weddings - Wedding Planning

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Photo Credits:
Wedding -- Starwood Hotels and Resorts
Tropical Sunset -- Ron Dalhquist
Beach Run -- Julie Dreelin
Italian Bride and Groom -- Wolfgang Freithoff
Bride and Bridesmaids -- Amity Mason

Invited to a destination wedding? Here's what to do.


What could be more romantic than hopping a plane to a far off beach and saying your "I do's" with a romantic sunset as your backdrop? These days, destination weddings are almost as popular as traditional ones, so it's important to know they come with a whole set of new rules. As a gest, you need to make sure you know what's expected of you before you pack bags.

Don't Complain

Once you've returned the RSVP card with a "yes," you've lost all right to complain. Figure out how much the wedding will cost you before you RSVP and budget accordingly. If you're very close with the bride and groom, you may need to save a bit to make sure you can afford to go to the wedding. But don't let the budget bring you down: treat the whole thing as a much-needed vacation you've been meaning to take for years.

Respectfully Decline

If you decide not to attend the wedding for financial reasons, keep it to yourself. Don't put a damper on the bride and groom; they're probably already aware that not everyone will be able to come. RSVP no, sending the card back on time; and write a separate note explaining why you won't be able to attend. You don't have to go into the budget details of why you can't attend, instead, focus the letter on how happy you are for the couple. Attend all of the pre-wedding events that you've been invited to and keep in mind that regardless of your attendance, you should still send a wedding gift.

Educate Yourself

Whether you're going to Acapulco or Istanbul, it's important to educate yourself on the local customs and dress codes. The last thing you want to deal with is getting detained in a foreign country due to a misunderstanding. Brush up on local customs and try to learn a little bit of the language. "Please" and "Thank you" can go a long way in a foreign country. Above all else, remember that you’re a guest in that country and you should treat the locals with respect.

Don't Be Annoying

You may be there to support the bride and groom, but that doesn't mean you have to hang out with the happy couple every minute! Attend the scheduled dinners and activities, but also give them some down time. If you plan on staying at the resort while the couple is honeymooning there, make yourself scarce. This is their time to be newlyweds...alone! Plan your own activities with the rest of the bridal party and other guests.

Be Prepared

Like any vacation, the key to a stress-free destination wedding is all in the planning. Make a checklist of everything you need, including your hotel confirmation and the outfit that you're wearing for the wedding. And make sure you check ahead of time with the mother of the bride or the maid of honor that your attire will be appropriate. Just because it's being held near a beach, doesn't automatically mean you can get away with flip flops and a sundress.

Find any couple's registry here.
Read more about guest attire:
What are the style guidelines for guests?
Should the couple coordinate all of the guest travel?

See More: Destination Weddings , Etiquette , Guests