destination weddingA destination wedding is a fantastic way to combine celebration with relaxation, but they can be confusing for those who may already struggle with normal wedding etiquette. Here is everything you need to know about destination wedding etiquette whether you are hosting or attending a destination wedding.

Dress Code

The dress code is usually specified on the invitation but if it is not then guests should ask. They can’t be expected to know whether “beach wedding” means Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, or chiffon and sandals. Take into account the time of day the ceremony and reception are being held when choosing an outfit, as well the venue – a church wedding will require something more formal than a beach barbeque.

Destination Wedding Gifts

If the couple haven’t set up a honeymoon fund or registered for gifts in the traditional way, guests have two good options: buy them an experience they can enjoy on their honeymoon, such as a scenic flight or a romantic meal, or have their gift delivered to their home before they depart for their wedding. Either way, couples should send a handwritten thank you note within four weeks of their wedding.


Not all couples want children at their wedding and they are within their right to request an adults only event. If a number of their wedding party and guests have children it is considerate to choose a resort which has good childcare facilities and child-friendly activities. If guests feel uncomfortable about leaving their children behind- especially if this destination wedding will also be their main holiday – it is acceptable to decline the invitation. The couple should respect their decision.

Save the Date

Given the significant cost involved for guests, couples planning a destination wedding should send save the date cards 6-8 months in advance – earlier if they know guests need more time to save, or to arrange time off work to attend.

Who Pays?

The bride and groom should pay for the wedding reception, welcome or rehearsal dinner, and a morning after brunch (if the hotel doesn’t provide breakfast as standard). It is also nice to have a welcome pack waiting for guests in their room with a few drinks and snacks, details of the wedding events, and suggested activities. Brides and grooms should also pay for their attendants’ accommodation, and therefore need to take this expense into account when planning the size of their wedding party.

Bridesmaids and groomsmen should pay for their travel, wedding clothing, hair and makeup, and any food and activities that are not related to the wedding. Guests should pay for their travel, accommodation, and any extra meals or activities.

Whatever arrangements are in place it is the couple’s responsibility to ensure they are clearly communicated to both guests and their wedding party. A destination wedding is not a way of making guests pay for their dream day, it is a way of extending the fun and festivities with their loved ones.