Having a Bahamas Wedding? Here are Some Tips on Destination Wedding Etiquette
If you have never been to a destination wedding, you are missing out! They combine the best of both worlds and usually involve warm sunshine, good friends, and vacation time away from home. But, most people avoid destination weddings because they aren’t quite sure how they work. Let’s take a look at some of the etiquette related to destination weddings and answer your most pressing questions.
Q. When should we send our save-the-dates and formal invites?
A. As soon as possible. To have as many people as possible follow you across the country or the globe for your nuptials, advance notice is essential. Save-the-dates can be sent 6 to 8 months in advance of your date, and formal invitations should be sent 2 to 3 months ahead of time. This may seem excessive if your party is small, but too soon is much preferred to too late.
Q. Who should we invite?
A. Those that matter most. The nice thing about destination weddings is that you no longer have the same etiquette-driven obligation to invite family members you never see, coworkers you do not like, or your dad’s poker buddies who call you by the wrong name. Now, you have an excuse. Other than that, you should still plan to invite those who matter most. Sending save-the-dates to the whole, big group and a formal invite to just those who are most likely to come, or express intention to come, is a fabulous way to save cash.
Q. Should we host pre-wedding or post-wedding parties for guests who cannot travel?
A. It would be a nice gesture. You don’t have to do anything you do not want to do. It can be an expense to host showers or post-wedding open houses once you have already paid for a lavish destination wedding. However, this is a great way to ensure that you can celebrate with people who could not make the trip and is a fitting time for guests to give you their gifts so that you do not have to ship them back home from your destination.
Q. Are we required to supply welcome gifts to our guests?
A. Ideally, yes. Your guests have traveled long and far, incurring high expenses on your behalf. While a traditional favor would be a nice way to thank someone for driving ten miles to your banquet hall at home, a more comprehensive gift might be in order abroad. Of course, one way that couples do this is by hosting a dinner or activity, separate of course from the wedding reception, to honor and show appreciation for guests.
Q. What should we expect, in terms of gifts?
A. Less, overall. The fact is, your guests are already taking out great expense of time and money to be present for your wedding. Money may be tight when it comes to offering a sizeable gift. The key here is to be as gracious for the smaller gifts as you would back home. The caveat turns in your favor, however, that guests who cannot make it may offer a more sizable gift of apology. It is not appropriate, however, to send invites to people you know will not go in hopes their gift will be generous.
Q. Is there an appropriate way to say “adults only?”
A. Yes. As is true with at-home weddings, there are some celebrations that are not appropriate or ideal for children. Parents understand this. Instinctively, many parents will opt to leave the little ones at home for a destination wedding trip. To be sure, this can be noted on your wedding website or social media and can be spread through the grapevine by your bridal party. There are more sensitive ways to word the request than “no kids allowed,” such as, “The wedding party requests the company of adults. Children will be welcome at the post-wedding brunch at home on the 18th.” Something of this nature sounds more positive.
Q. Should we pay for our guests who cannot afford to come?
A. With caution, only. This happens all the time with destination weddings. For some families, it works. For others, it does not. The rule of thumb is that if the guest is a parent, sibling, or grandparent of the bride or groom, or a chosen wedding party attendant, pitching in on costs is acceptable. If the guest is any more removed than this, it is best not to. The reason is that others who find out will feel less honored that their trips are not being afforded by the wedding party, and in many families, resentment accrues. The best idea for most couples will be to assess circumstances and potential reactions before deciding to pay.
Q. Can we have a cash bar?
A. Not advised. Technically, any bride and groom can do whatever they please. In terms of etiquette this is a major don’t. Cash bars are okay at traditional weddings, though not preferred to a semi-open bar or at least signature cocktail hour. All the same, a destination wedding is a huge hassle for guests, and they should be treated, if at all possible.
Q. What information needs to be provided for guests, and how should we provide it?
A. As much as possible, and it should be provided individually. It is good etiquette to include all of the ins and outs of the travel arrangements, itineraries, costs, phone numbers, regulations, and anything else that might be pertinent to your day, weekend, or weeklong affair. This information should be reproduced on your wedding website, but is most appropriate to send to the guests directly via email or even better, already printed for their convenience.
It is ill-advised to plague social media newsfeeds with this information, as a majority of followers will not be attending. Further, it is not appropriate to send all of the travel documentation in the formal invitation or to anyone who is not a confirmed guest.
Q. Can I have my destination wedding on a weekday?
A. That depends. This largely rests on the circumstances and preferences of your guests. Talk to the people who matter most, and see what works. For most families, this is going to simply mean that even fewer guests can swing it. For other families, this is a better option budget-wise for guests who do come, as hotels and flights are almost unanimously less expensive Monday through Friday.
Now that you know a bit more about destination weddings, consider hosting your wedding on one of the temperate, picturesque Bahaman islands. Contact Chic Bahamas Weddings today for more information.