With the cost of traveling and accommodations, plus the cost of a wedding gift, and the cost of special attire (for members of the wedding party), many guests are unenthusiastic when invited to a destination wedding. Guests can be irked that the couple was so “selfish” to choose a wedding that involved major expense for invitees who intend to be in attendance.
So the common questions many couples – and their guests – often ask are:
- Who is expected to pay for the bridal party’s travel costs?
- Is it unreasonable to plan a destination wedding if friends and family can’t afford the trip?
- What is the etiquette for a destination wedding?
Costs and who pays:
Airfares: The bride and groom are only responsible for their own flights. They should choose their destination with the understanding that many friends and family (including their chosen bridesmaids and groomsmen) may not be able to afford the trip, and so may not come at all. If the couple can find cheaper flights, or group booking discounts, they should relay this information to their bridal party and guests, but understand that it may still be too much. If there is a special friend or family member that they truly want to be there, but who considers it to be too costly – the bride and groom can offer to pay that person’s flights (assuming they can afford it themselves).
Accommodation: Once again, the bride and groom are not obliged to pay for the accommodation of others. Ideally, they will provide a variety of options to their guests and bridal party so that they can find something within their price range that they would enjoy. An excellent place to find a link with a huge variety of choices is By simply selecting the desired destination, your guests can choose from bed and breakfasts, cabins, beachside apartments, boutique hotels, motels and hotels, and even backpacker or camping accommodation! Even better, if your guests have pets or kids, they can do a special search for a place catering to their specific needs. You may even find an accommodation option that could be economically rented out for your whole party. Equally, when you’re planning your honeymoon, you’ll find a search function at takeabreak.com.au to help you select the most romantic options.
Gifts: It can be a hassle for guests to transport their presents to a far-off destination, and even more of a problem for the bride and groom to transport them all back home. You might want to consider a bridal registry that delivers the gifts to your home after the event (and you can request a later delivery date if you’ll be away for a lengthy honeymoon). Alternatively, you may decide that given the cost to the guests of coming to the destination wedding, you’d prefer to write “no gifts please” in your invitations. This may make it easier for some guests to attend your happy event.
Clothing: Traditionally, the bridal party pays for their own outfits. For groomsmen, this may be as simple as renting a tux or suit from a place at the wedding destination (or better – if it’s part of a chain, choosing the desired outfit from an outlet at home and picking it up at the destination). For bridesmaids, the bride should try to select outfits that take consideration of the extra costs associated with their destination wedding.
Special outings: Destination weddings often comprise side-trips including rehearsal dinners at wineries, or pre-wedding festivities at a nearby attraction. If it is an official part of your wedding (for example, the rehearsal dinner) then the couple should be responsible for all associated costs. Additionally, the couple may offer up a list of suggested outings that all or some of the guests and bridal party can attend at their own expense.
“Am I selfish to want a destination wedding?” This question is frequently asked. A bride and groom should have their wedding wherever, whenever and however they please. It is their special day and if they want to say their vows at Uluru or sit in a mineshaft in Coober Pedy, that is their choice to make. Equally, it is the choice of any of their friends and family to say, “No, thank you” to the idea of lashing out for an expensive trip. If this is the case – the bride and groom may choose to wed privately at their chosen destination, and then arrange a gathering when they return home in order to celebrate with those friends and family who couldn’t share their happy day.