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General Destination Wedding Etiquette

Words by Elaine Hilbelink

Have you ever encountered a wedding situation that had eyebrows raised, tongues clucking or fingers wagging? When etiquette is ignored, people are uncomfortable. Many wedding hosts, as well as guests, have had some experience when they've walked away thinking- I can't believe it!  The nerve of that person! or even worse, How tacky! Below we've listed a few such wedding taboos.

Bridal Hosts:

  • Never ask guests to pay for their meal at a shower or wedding. If you can't afford it, don't do it! 
  • Do not keep guests waiting at the reception while the bridal party is off having a private celebration.
  • Send your thank you notes promptly. People have graciously sent a gift and it should be acknowledged. 
  • It is not acceptable to ask for cash in lieu of gifts, nor include registry information in your wedding invitation. Word of mouth through attendants and family members is the acceptable method of spreading the word.
  • If you are hosting a destination wedding and children are not included in the ceremony or reception, it is gracious to provide childcare options for your guests.
  • If hosting a religious ceremony, be respectful of what is appropriate in that situation and make sure your attendants are aware as well. Honor the clergyman performing your ceremony with a generous honorarium.

Bridal Guests:

  • Do not take a finger swipe at the frosting on the wedding cake and then go back for seconds and thirds. 
  • Double dipping in the chocolate fountain is a no-no. Certain venues now provide fountain guards.
  • Acknowledge your invitation and RSVP promptly. If you RSVP that you will be attending, do so. If an illness or a crisis prevents you from attending, let your hosts know as soon as possible. Weddings are costly and paying for meals for guests who aren't there is upsetting.
  • The names on the inner envelope are the guests invited. Do not ask to bring along friends or children - or just show up with them. It creates an awkward dilemma for the host. 
  • If your children are included in the invitation, watch them. Unruly children will cause raised eyebrows. 
  • It is best to send your gift before or after the wedding - especially in a destination situation. Traveling with gifts is cumbersome for all. 
  • It is also wise to remember, whether the guest or the host, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to tacky and tawdry behavior. In all situations, it is best to consider how the other party would feel if roles were reversed, and make decisions accordingly.
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