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Top Ten Etiquette Questions

Words by Elaine Hilbelink

We know you don’t get married every day, much less have a destination wedding – therefore, etiquette can be a confusing subject. Here are some of our most asked questions and advice on how to handle them.

MONEY MATTERS

1. I am having concerns about the extra travel expenses for my attendants. What exactly should I pay for and what should the wedding party be responsible for?
A: Participating in any wedding is an expensive endeavor these days! 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.

Since typically destination weddings are on a much smaller scale, you may choose to subsidize (budget permitting), but it is not required. What you do for one person, you should do for all. A few ideas for assisting your bridal party by making your wedding more affordable might be:

• Negotiating group discounts on airfare and lodging.
• Pay for the accommodations if it is in your budget (renting a large beach home for you and all your guests and having the wedding there, might be a good way to tie-in the entire event).
• Make affordable choices on dresses and accessories, or give them to your attendants as a gift.
• Ask that they not give you a gift for the wedding and let them know that their presence is their present to you.

2. What is the protocol when tipping vendors at a wedding?
A: Tipping is a method for expressing your appreciation for a job well done. When planning your budget, it will be important to include gratuities in your calculations. It is also prudent to check with your wedding coordinator for the proper gratuity for your location as this can vary from one country to another. Here are other guidelines to adhere to:

• Check your contracts and final bills ahead of time to see if a gratuity was included. You don’t need to double tip – unless of course, you want to.
• The host should carry an envelope with cash on the wedding day for unexpected tips.
• In general, the owners of businesses do not receive tips.
• Guests should not be expected to pay parking lot attendants, coatroom attendants etc. This should be arranged in advance so you can inform your guests with discreetly placed signage.

If you use a wedding planner, they may be the person responsible for dispersing tips on the wedding day. If not, be sure to designate someone to handle this detail for you.

THE INVITATIONS

3. When inviting a single friend to our destination wedding, do we need to include a guest on the invitation?
A: It is not necessary to include guests for singles unless they are engaged. But, make every effort to group them with others they know at the reception to ensure they enjoy the event.

4. My fiancé and I are paying for our destination wedding. How do we word the invitation?
A: If you wish to host your own wedding, you may issue the invitation yourselves. An example of the appropriate wording might be:

The honor of your presence
Is requested at the marriage of
Miss Lee Cooper
And Mister Todd Hill
Saturday, the tenth of January
Two Thousand Thirteen
At 5 o’clock in the afternoon
Beautiful Tropical Resort
San Juan, Puerto Rico

5.  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 on the invitations, all children of your guests should be included. The exception to this would be children participating in the wedding.  

GIVE THANKS

6.  Is it appropriate to send emailed thank you notes if the invitation to the corresponding party (shower, engagement party, etc.) was an e-vite?
A:  We live in a time-crunched society, and when you are planning a wedding you are under even more time constraints. Even so, your thank you notes should always be handwritten. People have put forth money and time to shop for you and attend your event; it would be gracious for you to acknowledge the gift with a personal note in your own hand.

7. 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 with gifts and gift cards can happen and would likely be happy to clarify which gift they sent.

8. How long do I have to write a thank you note if someone has given us a gift?
Wedding gifts are wonderful, but the task of responding in a timely manner looms heavily on most brides and grooms. Ideally you should write them as soon as a gift arrives, but within a month of returning from your honeymoon is certainly acceptable. It is a misconception that you have a year to acknowledge gifts. Guests have up to a year to send their gifts, but your acknowledgement should be made as soon as possible. One thing which might make it easier is to print off two sets of labels when you are addressing your invitations. This way, you’ll already have that portion finished, making the process less of a burden.

 PARTY PROTOCOL

9. Since we’re doing a destination wedding, is it acceptable to also have other pre-wedding celebrations such as an engagement party, bridal shower and/or bachelorette party?
You really should limit pre-wedding events to only one. The expense of a destination wedding can be a bear on some people’s wallets and if you have several parties on top of that, they may start to really feel the pinch. You know your guests and their life circumstances better than anyone, so consider that when deciding which event to have. If friends or family insist on throwing you a shower, don’t fight them over it, but make sure you recognize the overall financial outlay before adding more events to the roster.

10. I’m not inviting some people to the destination wedding because we want it to be small and intimate. Should I still invite them to my bridal shower?
I must be frank here. No, you should not invite them to the shower or any other celebration if they are not invited to the wedding. You would not want your friends or family thinking you are only after gifts. If you decide to have a hometown reception and plan to invite them to that, then by all means, include them in your shower plans. 

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