Photo: Joe Buissink
Whether you’re heading to the beach, trekking up to the mountains, or simply jetting to a city you love to visit, a destination wedding adds an extra layer of festivity to your wedding, turning the day into a weekend (or week!) of fun and excitement. But when you’re asking your guests to travel to be a part of your celebration, there are a few extra things you’ll want to keep in mind. Experts have rounded up the top etiquette tips for planning a destination wedding.
Be Intentional With Timing.
Before you book anything, consider popular tourist seasons. There’s a chance your dream date is during peak travel time, which could mean higher flight and hotel costs for your guests, as well as lower availability. Consider a date during the shoulder season to make planning a little easier (and more affordable), or start to plan very early so you can ensure availability. Make sure to consider annual weather patterns, such as hurricane season in the Caribbean or mud season in the mountains.
Choose the Right Day.
If you’re heading to a destination for four days or more, don’t plan your wedding for the day after everyone arrives. Travel can always be iffy, with weather and cancellations throwing a wrench into even the best-laid plans. Instead, leave a buffer day between arrivals and your wedding to give everyone time to unwind and allow for any last-minute travel changes.
Give Ample Notice.
No matter how far you’re askings your guests to travel, let them know as far in advance as possible. As soon as you’ve booked your venue, send out your save the dates (complete with a link to your wedding website, of course!). This way guests can mark their calendars, even if it’s six to nine months in advance, and can start looking at the hotel room blocks and travel tips you’ve provided. Travelling internationally? This also gives your guests plenty of time to renew their passports!
Secure Group Rates.
One way to make a destination wedding easier on your guests is to provide as many group rates as possible. In addition to the room block, secure a group rate with local transportation companies like shuttles and car rentals, and even think about group rates for flights. Anywhere you can get a discount by guaranteeing a large number of bookings is worth looking into! When it comes to the room block, you may want to provide hotel options in multiple price ranges so your guests can find a room that fits their budget.
Make Good Plans.
You’re not required to host every single meal or plan every single activity for your guests, but take the time to at least compile suggestions and recommendations for the days surrounding your wedding. Provide contact information for local activities and recommendations for your favorite restaurants. Schedule something cost-free (say, a hike on the local trails) where guests can join you and your fiancé for a little down-time without spending extra cash. You should also consider hosting a welcome party and morning-after brunch to bookend the trip.
A great wedding website will ensure your guests arrive happy and prepared. In addition to detailing the dates, room blocks and group rates you’ve secured, fill your website with useful information. Post recommendations and ideas for restaurants and activities, outline your dress code and list any items guests won’t want to leave home without. Are there things they should be aware of, like the need to hydrate at high altitude or the importance of layering at a warm destination that cools off at night? Put it all on your website.
Welcome Guests Warmly.
There’s no better time to assemble a welcome bag than for a destination wedding. Include useful items like local maps, sunscreen and reusable water bottles, alongside snacks and treats that fit your theme and destination. Don’t forget to print out an itinerary for the trip so they’ll know where they need to be, when!