Destination Wedding Ettiquette

Destination weddings have been popular for years. Couples may choose to save money by combining the wedding and honeymoon at an exotic location, perhaps Hawaii or the Caribbean. But what is the etiquette involved? Things change when the location changes.

After deciding on a location, one of the first decisions couples must make is who to invite, or perhaps not invite. Will it be the bride and groom only, parents and siblings, close friends? Unless the couple is flush with money, guests should expect to pay their own way, which may in itself reduce the guest list.

But what about Aunt Sally, Uncle Joe, the cousins, neighbors and others who would have attended a local wedding? One way to include them in the festivities is to have a reception back home. A local reception should be hosted by parents, grandparents or someone close to the bride or groom, but not by the couple. It is acceptable to have two receptions, one in the bride's hometown and one in the groom's, each with a different host and guest list.  

The reception should occur shortly after the wedding, within weeks or a couple of months at most. If planned months later, it might be called a wedding celebration, but not a typical reception. And again, the etiquette changes.

And what about gifts? Are those who were not invited to the wedding expected to send a gift? No, they are not - no invitation, no gift. Gifts should never be an expectation, even from an invited guest if circumstances make it difficult to provide one. Reception guests typically bring a gift, but again are not required to do so. Those invited to a later celebration need not bring a gift. If they choose to do so, it might be a bottle of wine or a gift card to a favorite restaurant.

When planning a wedding, the bride and groom make decisions based on their circumstances and finances. If a destination wedding appeals to the couple, their family and friends can be supportive but are not expected to help foot the bill in any way, including by the couple's expectation of gifts.



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