watercolor wedding stationery suite with Venice, Italy scenes

Guest Communication Best Practices for Destination Weddings


April 9, 2024
Words by Meghan Ely
Photos courtesy of various

Destination weddings offer the chance to celebrate love and explore a new place, both for couples and their guests. Whether at a sunny beachside resort or a rustic mountain lodge, it’s hard not to appreciate an opportunity to travel, gather with friends, and party the weekend away! But before anyone hits the dance floor, couples must help their guests navigate the logistics of attending with thorough, detailed communication.

“The easier you can make it on your guests to both plan and attend your wedding, the happier your guests will be,” assures Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events. “It also means that you’ll get fewer questions, which is a nice bonus.”

If you plan to jet off for your big day, here are a few ways to keep your guests in the loop and create anticipation for your destination wedding.

Arabic wedding couple in front of Paris countryside chateauPhotography: Ben & Hope Photography // Event Designer: Sumptuous Events Paris // Venue: Château de Villette

Share the news ASAP

Attending a destination wedding requires more logistical planning for guests than an at-home celebration, like requesting time off work, arranging childcare, and booking accommodations. If you want as many people to attend as possible, you must allow ample time for your loved ones to sort out their travel plans.

That means you must move up the timeline for sending save-the-dates and invitations. While local weddings call for six months of advance notice, Samuele Gallorini of Gallorini & Giorgi Events encourages destination couples to send save-the-dates “at least one year before the wedding to make sure your guests can plan their travel financially and with their work commitments.”

wedding invitation to Amalfi Coast wedding with watercolor map of regionPhoto courtesy of Momental Designs

As for invitations, aim to put them in the mail “10-14 weeks in advance,” says House of Joy’s Samantha Leenheer. “You will also want to move up your RSVP date to 6-7 weeks from the wedding to allow for necessary logistics of the wedding to be accounted for.”

When communicating with your guests, it’s better to notify them too early than too late — especially for a destination event. Plus, you get to build the excitement right away, so your loved ones eagerly await your wedding getaway!

Don’t hedge around details

You might not be a travel agent, but there’s a good chance you know far more about your destination than your guests. You did choose it, after all! As you plan the wedding, inform your guests about travel costs and timelines to manage expectations.

Sarah Chianese of Mangia and Enjoy! stresses the importance of communicating with guests about “who is covering the costs of hotel, flights, and ground transportation.”

chateau Paris wedding reception with two burlesque dancersPhotography: Ben & Hope Photography // Event Designer: Sumptuous Events Paris // Venue: Château de Villette

“Transparency about the guest’s financial responsibility will allow you a precise headcount,” Chianese explains. “It will prevent last-minute changes if the guest finds it unaffordable for them later on as you near the wedding date.”

In addition to financial commitments, your guests also need to determine whether attending is feasible within their schedule. “Having travel information (flight/airport info, hotel info, car/transportation/driving info, etc.) available from the start makes it easy for guests to look into it early,” Chang says.

bride poses with bold ball gown dress and backdrop of amalfi coast with mountains behind lakePhoto courtesy of Caroline’s Collective

For those committed to attending, it also helps to provide a detailed itinerary once available. That way, your guests can plan when to arrive in time for the welcome party or pack suitable clothing for a boating excursion.

“A timeline of events is helpful to provide for the guests to be in the know,” confirms Kelley Nudo of Momental Designs. “The timeline can be included in the invitation suite and/or in a welcome itinerary guests receive upon arrival.”

A custom wedding website is another great way to share vital details with your guests while planning. Also, consider sending reminder emails or texts closer to the wedding.

bride and groom enjoy fireworks at wedding reception in Paris countrysidePhotography: Ben & Hope Photography // Event Designer: Sumptuous Events Paris // Venue: Château de Villette

Take the pressure off

While everyone on your guest list will want to attend your big day, the reality is that some people won’t be able to swing it. From schedule conflicts to health challenges, expect some guests to decline due to personal reasons.

But Sarah Anderson of Twickenham House and Hall urges couples not to take nos personally — and to let loved ones off the hook if they cannot attend.

“Couples should consider the importance of the destination and experience, with the understanding that fewer guests will be participating,” she states. “When explaining the plans to friends and family, creating a “no-pressure” attitude toward their participation in the weekend is essential.”

With less pressure to participate, those excited to travel will happily join, while others will look forward to celebrating upon your return. The people on your guest list mean a lot, so focus on preserving those lifelong relationships whether or not they can attend!

wedding guests posing for picture at Paris chateauPhotography: Ben & Hope Photography // Event Designer: Sumptuous Events Paris // Venue: Château de Villette

Have fun with it

Hosting a destination wedding is all about fun and adventure! Diane Kolanović-Šolaja of Dee Kay Events recommends setting the tone early with creative touchpoints to build excitement for guests from the start.

“If you delight your guests and are memorable, your guests will respond quickly and enthusiastically,” she assures. “Begin with a different and out-of-the-box save-the-date, something that will genuinely hold your guest’s attention.”

lavish table setting with gold chairs and pink centerpiece floralsPhotography: Ben & Hope Photography // Event Designer: Sumptuous Events Paris // Venue: Château de Villette

For example, you could send some destination-specific snacks with your save-the-date or even “a QR code of a video of you two speaking to your guest directly,” she adds.

Then, once everyone has RSVPed, send them a token of appreciation that builds anticipation for the trip. Kolanović-Šolaja suggests following the travel theme with ideas like “a personalized luggage tag, an actual paper itinerary, or an airplane amenity kit complete with ear plugs and an eye mask.”

You only get one chance to announce your destination wedding, so why not make the most of it? Your guests will love the hype, and you’ll create memories that last a lifetime!

As you plan your wedding vacay, expect to communicate with your guests more than you would for a wedding close to home. If it becomes overwhelming, consider assigning a point of contact—like a parent or wedding party member—to answer questions, follow up on RSVPs, and provide guests with planning updates. And remember: Proactive communication is always best, so send your save-the-dates early and keep your wedding website updated with the latest details!

About the Author: Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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