What to know as a guest at a destination wedding
A destination wedding can be a lot of fun. Being invited to one of these is a great excuse for a vacation, as these events often take place in exotic or beautiful places that you might not otherwise visit, and they also provide a great opportunity to get to know each other. with the married couple (as well as their family and friends). even more than before. Think of it as a big, exciting group trip.
But destination weddings can also be stressful. You have to worry about all the logistics you would do for a regular trip – booking flights and hotels, time off from work, budgeting for a getaway – while doing the things required of a wedding guest like buying a gift and make sure you have the correct attire.
To help you navigate it all, we turned to Jen Avey, Vice President of Marketing for Destination Weddings Travel Group. Ahead, she shares tips on how to plan, budget, and cherish a destination wedding as a guest.
Meet the expert
Jen Avey is Vice President of Marketing for Destination Weddings Travel Groupa team of travel and wedding specialists who help couples and guests organize destination weddings.
When to book travel and accommodation
Like any vacation, attending a destination wedding takes planning, organization, and time. You need to figure out how you’re going to get there, where you’re going to stay, how you’re going to get around once you get there, and more. Avey recommends giving yourself plenty of time to organize the logistics. “Destination wedding guests should book their travel arrangements as soon as possible,” she advises. “On average, destination wedding dates should be sent to guests between eight and 12 months in advance, so guests should expect to book their travel arrangements shortly thereafter.”
Planning ahead will help alleviate any stress you may feel about logistics. It could also help you save money, Avey reveals: “Often the biggest savings can be made by booking early. Resorts can call these early booking bonus rates, for example.”
Planning ahead is also helpful and thoughtful for the couple. The more the number of guests for their wedding is defined, the more they can finalize their budget and logistics for the big day. “It helps the couple gauge the number of rooms they will have in their group, and according to the contract they signed, they will have to reach a minimum number in order to receive certain amenities,” Avey explains.
If you’re spending a significant amount of money to travel to a destination wedding and stay in a hotel, you might be wondering if you still need to give a gift. In other words, is your presence their present? Avey says that in some cases that sentiment is true. “Destination wedding couples like to show their appreciation to their guests for traveling so far to celebrate with them, so guests shouldn’t feel [pressured] to buy a traditional wedding gift,” she explains. “Many destination married couples decide not to establish a traditional registry for their guests to purchase gifts.
However, if a couple has a registry, you might consider buying something small from it, because technically that’s what wedding etiquette dictates. “It really depends on what the couple comes up with,” adds Avey. “Honeymoon funds are a popular option, where couples ask guests to donate whatever dollar amount they are comfortable with to fund certain amenities or activities, such as a room upgrade, airfare first class, a honeymoon excursion, etc.”
If you’re spending a lot of money to attend a wedding, you might also consider making a handmade gift for the couple, such as a scrapbook of your memories together or a hand-knit blanket for their new home. There are many types of gifts that don’t involve enough money, so get creative!
Vacations of all kinds can be tough on the wallet. Expenses can add up from the flight to the rental car to the hotel. And that’s not even taking into account excursions, meals and some groceries. Destination weddings can be even more expensive than regular vacations because you don’t choose the destination or hotel, and the couple may opt for a more expensive destination than you would. You also need to spend money on special clothes and a wedding gift, if you want to give one.
If you’re feeling financially strained, book early. “Guests can save money when attending a destination wedding by booking early and working with an expert to help them secure the best travel rates.” You can also save money by flying on a weekday, sharing a hotel room with friends, or booking an Airbnb rather than staying at the official wedding hotel or resort. If you don’t know anyone else attending the wedding, ask the couple if they know of any other guests who would like to share a hotel room or rental property.
Alternatives to Attending a Destination Wedding
There are many reasons why you may not be able to attend a destination wedding. You might have a conflict or it’s not the right time to take time off from work. You may not have the money or you may be saving your money for other trips or projects that are a higher priority. Don’t worry, Avey reminds, “There are definitely ways for loved ones to show their support for the couple if they ultimately can’t attend the destination wedding.”
Live streaming is now common practice at weddings, so you can join the ceremony or party virtually if the couple offers. You can also show your support by attending a pre-wedding party like a bachelor or bachelorette party or bridal shower. Consider inviting the couple to dinner before or after their big day to wish them luck and celebrate with them. “Another nice gesture is to call the resort or venue ahead of time and surprise the couple with a welcome basket and gift upon check-in,” says Avey. “You could even splurge a little more and treat the couple to a room upgrade, spa treatment, dinner on the beach, etc.”