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Top 10 Etiquette Questions Answered

Words by Elaine Hilbelink
Photos courtesy of Christine Farah

Destination wedding etiquette can be especially tricky with the extra element of travel involved. Therefore, we’ve curated our most frequently asked and best etiquette questions to help you navigate your wedding with ease.

NO GIFTS PLEASE!

1. Q: What’s the best way to let guests know we don’t want them to give us anything except for their attendance? Should we still create a registry for those who insist on sending us something?

A: Telling your loved ones to consider their attendance as a gift to you is a gracious act. You can include this information on your invitations with a simple, “No gifts please. We consider your presence your present.” If someone insists on sending something, then that’s their decision, but I would advise against creating a registry as it will create mixed messages.

MONEY MATTERS

2. Q: What exactly should I pay for in regards to my destination wedding and what should my bridal party be responsible for?

A: Traditional wedding etiquette generally requires attendants to pay for their own clothing, accessories, hair and makeup, travel, lodging, wedding and shower gifts. It is also customary for the maid of honor or bridesmaids to host a shower or bachelorette party. Typically destination weddings are on a much smaller scale, so you may choose to subsidize wedding attire or accommodations (budget permitting), but it is not required. What you do for one person, you should do for all.

THE INVITES

3. Q: My fiancé and I are paying for our destination wedding. How should we word the invitation?

A: If you wish to host your own wedding, you may issue the invitation yourselves. It is up to you if you want to include any family in the invitation. Some good wording examples can be found on our website: destinationido.com/how-to-word-your-invitations.

4. Q: How do I tactfully avoid inviting children to my destination wedding?

A: Depending on where your wedding will take place, you may consider an appropriate age cut-off based on the location and style of wedding you are having. Make sure to communicate well in advance if you’ll be including children (or not) so guests can plan ahead. While you may want to pick and choose, if you include some children, all children of your guests should be invited. The exception to this would be children participating in the wedding.

Communicating this can be in the form of a hand-written note placed inside the invitation to the individuals who do have children or a simple phone call. You can also research childcare options for the families that have no choice but to bring children along, so they are cared for during your festivities.

GIVE THANKS

5. Q: What do I do if a card has been separated from a gift and I don’t know the giver?

A: Keeping an accurate list of attendees and gifts is crucial in acknowledging your gifts in an orderly fashion. By process of elimination you might be able to figure out who the giver may be or at least narrow the field. If you have it down to a few people, you might have a friend or family member close to that person explain the situation or do a little detective work. If you come up with no answer, call them and ask them. People understand how mix-ups happen and would likely be happy to clarify what they sent.

6. Q: How long do I have to write a thank you note if someone has given us a gift?

A: Ideally, you should write them as soon as a gift arrives, but within a month of returning from your honeymoon is acceptable. It is a misconception that you have one year to acknowledge gifts. Guests have up to a year to send a present, but your “thank you” should be sent as soon as possible.

BRIDESMAID BLUES

7. Q: One of my bridesmaids is asking that I pay for her travel expenses for our destination wedding. We’re already paying for their attire and covering the cost of the beach house we’ve rented for the group. How do I communicate that we aren’t going to pay for her travel costs too without offending her?

A: As the bride, you are already being gracious to provide the attire and subsidize the cost of the accommodations (see question two for more on what tradition states attendants are supposed to pay for). I would politely let her know you are unable to pay for her travel and you would understand if she decides to forgo being in your wedding party. Another point of consideration with her “requests” is what you do for one attendant; you need to do for all.

8. Q: One of my bridesmaids isn’t pleased with any dress I choose! It is too expensive, too blue, too short or too long. I just don’t know how to make her happy. What do I do?

A: As the bride, it is your prerogative to choose the colors and style of dresses for your wedding. Today there are designers who have lots of styles in the same color so bridesmaids can find a perfect silhouette (Dessy Group is one retailer to look into – they have their own app to make it as easy as possible). Perhaps select the color you would like them to wear and let them choose the dress. That way, they’re comfortable and so are you!

TRAVEL TABOOS

9. Q: What is the best way for me to find out the etiquette and customs of the country where we are having our wedding? How do I communicate that information to our friends and relatives who will be attending?

A: Travel guidebooks, online searches and speaking to contacts at your venue or wedding planner are all effective ways to get informed. Your personal wedding website is a great way to share what you learn with your guests so they might plan appropriate dress for the trip, understand tipping and be sensitive to the customs in your host country. You might also include some information in a welcome bag to greet your guests in the room or send them a guidebook after receiving their RSVP (if budget permits).

10. Q: I’ve got some guests who are uncomfortable with the idea of leaving the country to attend our wedding. How do I put their minds at ease?

A: Education can go a long way. Many times people are anxious because they don’t know what they’re in for. Especially if they don’t travel much or have never traveled outside of the country. I would suggest sending them information about the hotel, the destination, how to get there and even make sure they have someone to travel with. By arming them with information and gently reassuring them that they will be safe and cared for throughout their visit, chances are they will have a great time and any anxiety will quickly melt away.

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