Wedding Etiquette Q&A


October 7, 2021
Words by Elaine Hilbelink
Photos courtesy of Catie Ann Photography

Wedding season is upon us, and at Destination I Do we know there is no shortage of questions surrounding wedding etiquette. Whether you are the couple or the guest we answer some of your burning questions!

Answering Couples’ Questions

I’ve already written lots of thank you notes for my bridal shower. Do I need to write my destination wedding guests a thank you note if they don’t give us a gift?

Expressing gratitude in a written form is always appropriate. Whether a gift was received or not, you can express how much you appreciate your friends and family taking time from their jobs to travel and share your special day with you. Writing a note is the gracious thing to do.

My fiancé and I have already maxed out our budget with our destination wedding ceremony and reception. Is it okay if we don’t provide any welcome amenities or pre-wedding events for our guests? 

Making your guests feel welcomed at your venue does not have to be a costly endeavor. Guests might find a ‘goodie bag’ in their hotel room with homemade cookies, water, granola bars, candy and a printed list of what to see and do in the area. Use your imagination and creativity to make your friends and family feel welcome and to create opportunities for them to informally gather.  Being together is what is important! 

I considered registering for my wedding, but my fiancé and I have been living together for years. We really don’t need any of the traditional registry items. Is it okay to request money from any guests who ask what we want?

There are many non-traditional registries available that you might explore if you don’t need the typical household items. It is never appropriate to put any registry or gift ‘requests’ on the printed wedding invitation. If people verbally inquire, you might share your preferences. It would be a social snafu to put in print anywhere, “We have everything, we just want money!”

One of my bridesmaids really can’t afford her flight to attend my wedding. Is it acceptable for me to help her out if I’m not paying for the rest of my wedding party’s travel?

It is never appropriate to help one attendant in your wedding party if you are not helping all of them in a like manner. Word will travel between your friends and you will risk offending all of your other attendants. If someone is asked to be part of your wedding party and they know they will not be able to afford the expense of the clothing, the parties, the gifts and the travel, they should decline the honor.  Weddings have become more and more expensive for all of the stakeholders and sometimes choices need to be made.

Our parents are helping us pay for our destination wedding, but they’re also very opinionated about how we spend the money. We want to determine our own priorities and budget, but they’re pushing back. What’s the correct way to handle this?

Communication at the onset of planning an event is always a wise decision, so the money being contributed by families and the wedding couple can be determined. Many times parents are happy to say, “Here is your budget and do with it what you wish.” If you are already in the throes of planning, calm communication is still the sensible route to take. Find out how much they wish to contribute and what their priorities are. Determine what your contribution is, prioritize what is important to you and your fiancé and plan accordingly.

Answering Guests’ Questions

I’m attending a destination wedding in Mexico and I’m planning my attire. Since it’s a beach wedding and a bit more casual, is it okay to wear white?

With all of the colors in the rainbow to choose from, why would you want to choose white and potentially conflict with the bride? If you feel you must choose white, make sure you accessorize with plenty of color. 

I recently RSVP’d for a destination wedding later this year and the invitation didn’t mention a plus one. Since I’m traveling to be there, I think I should be allowed to bring a guest. Is this acceptable?

If a plus one is not mentioned on the invitation, you should not assume it is acceptable to bring a guest just because you are traveling. Typically a plus one guest is included on the invitation if you are engaged or in a significant relationship.

I’ve attended several weddings recently that are “phone-free,” why is this? I’d like to take photos with my phone to commemorate the day and post them to social media, but don’t want to upset the couple. I’m probably not going to get photos of the wedding otherwise. What’s the proper protocol if the couple says “no phones?

If the couple says “no phones,” then you should respect their wishes. Couples may not want their special event broadcast on social media. You need to honor their request for privacy. It can be very distracting in a ceremony to have many people playing photographer, both to the couple and to other guests. Also, the hired photographer probably would not appreciate having guests interrupting or getting in the way of a photo op. After the wedding, the couple may post their own pictures and then you can access what they have shared. 

My husband and I recently got invited to the destination wedding of one of our closest friends, but the invitation says “adults only.” I don’t think it’s fair for our friends to expect us to leave our kids at home. What is proper etiquette when it comes to kids?

If the invitation says ‘adults only,’ then it is not a venue or an event that is conducive to children and you should adhere to the wishes of your hosts. If the destination wedding is being held in a locale that you would like to combine with a family vacation, then you may bring your children and provide your own childcare during all of the events that are ‘adult only.’ It would be a definite faux pas to bring your children along and expect them to attend.

I recently got an invitation to a “dry” wedding. The couple’s parents are very conservative, so they’ve opted not to have a cocktail hour or bar at the reception. As a guest, is there any way around this?

It is respectful to honor the wishes of your hosts. Arriving sloshed from a pre-party, smuggling alcohol into the event or dashing back and forth to a nearby bar might all be construed as rude and inappropriate…a definite faux pas! If you choose to attend, try to enjoy a few alcohol-free hours.

Weddings at Sandals
Black couple getting married in Jamaica
Jamaica Destination Weddings
Couple in Cancun doing a gazebo destination wedding
White couple getting married in Punta Cana, DR
destination wedding couple throwing rose petals in costa mujeres

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