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Destination Wedding Etiquette for Guests

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Destination weddings provide an opportunity for a future married couple and their guests to celebrate the beauty of marriage in a foreign location. 

If you’re invited to one, you might have a few questions about the best etiquette.

Here are some answers to help you prepare for a gorgeous destination wedding.

Will it be expensive?

If you are invited to a destination wedding, it’s typical for guests to pay for the travel and lodging. Be prepared to spend money on typical travel expenses, such as transportation, hotels, food, and other needs.

Fortunately, the bride and groom know the expense for their guests and should gracefully accept that you may have to RSVP “no” if you can’t afford it. 

While a bride and groom might offer to pay for the travel expenses for special guests who can’t easily afford the trip, it would go against destination wedding etiquette to expect this or ask.

Can friends or family travel with me?

Destination weddings are a great opportunity to visit a foreign location. Many people, understandably, like to travel with friends and family. 

If your kids, significant other, or bestie weren’t invited to the wedding, it’s fine for them to tag along on the trip, but they should find other things to do during wedding events. Those should be attended by invited guests only.

To follow proper destination wedding etiquette, avoid asking the bride and groom if your traveling companions can attend their wedding events; they’ve very likely already planned for a precise number of guests.

Can I do my own traveling and sightseeing?

The temptation might be strong to turn a destination wedding into a vacation for yourself. And there’s nothing wrong with planning your own sightseeing and tours, as long as they don’t interfere with the wedding events.

For the best destination wedding etiquette, plan any of your own excursions so they leave plenty of time to get to the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, or breakfast if you’ve been invited to them.

And if you’ve planned to extend your stay, check with the hotel, as wedding block rates may not apply beyond the wedding weekend. It’s best to be prepared.

Should I still buy a wedding gift?

Because you and other guests are already spending a lot of money on travel, it’s natural to wonder if you’re also still expected to buy a wedding gift for the happy couple. 

Good destination wedding gift etiquette would be to still purchase something, but it does not need to be as expensive or elaborate as a gift you might normally purchase. 

It’s also good etiquette to bring something small, or cash, or send the gift directly to the couple’s preferred address. This prevents you and the bride and groom from needing to transport large and heavy items on aircraft.

If you know the couple, and they’re stressing about keeping gifting simple for their guests, suggest an online wedding registry like Giftster for their destination wedding. 

Are you attending a destination wedding soon? The final piece of advice is to enjoy the experience! It’s sure to be one you won’t forget.

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