Etiquette for the guests

So you've just been invited to your first ever destination wedding and although you've been to several traditional weddings, you really don't have a clue what to expect and what is expected of you. No problem. We've put together a few tips to help you on your way.

Reply ASAP

As soon as the Save the Date Card arrives take a look at your finances and check whether you will be able to take the time off work. The bride and groom will usually give you several months before the wedding invitations are sent out. Once this arrives, be sure to reply as quickly as you can, since as the guest list is bound to be small anyway, it's only fair the couple know as soon as possible whether you can be there to share their special day.

Don't be afraid to decline

Most couples who plan a destination wedding understand the level of commitment involved in accepting an invitation to a wedding held overseas, and will not be offended if you decline. Just send them back a letter explaining your reasons for declining the invitation and wish them every happiness. Try and attend any pre or post wedding celebrations which are planned. It's also your decision as to sending them a wedding gift.


For most destination wedding couples the gift is that you can be there with them to share their special day. If they have a wedding gift registry then you may like to have a gift sent to their home before they leave for their wedding. Alternatively, they may appreciate a cash gift if they already have a home together. Taking a gift with you is a definite no no as the couple would have to worry about getting it back.

Plan your trip as you would a holiday

Since a destination wedding is also a mini holiday for the guests, then treat it and plan for it, as you would any holiday. Make lists, confirm your travel arrangements, and pack the appropriate clothes. Wedding destinations has a dedicated guest consultant and can assist you in your holiday, so you may plan and book your travels after the wedding and make use of this opportunity.

What sort of wedding attire to pack

Most couples will send a guest pack together with the invitation which will list their preferred dress code. Many will state flip flops and casual wear which you can take to mean cool sun dresses and khakis. Think light and airy fabrics with something to cover your shoulders if it's an evening wedding. If there's no dress code mentioned, then think smart casual.

Don't complain

Make sure your budget is sufficient and whatever you do, don't start complaining about anything. Although the couple's main focus is on their wedding, they naturally want you to be comfortable and to have a good time. However, complaining about things that are out of their control will just stress them out unnecessarily. Instead be positive and go about with a happy, smiling face.

Give them some space

Once you arrive don't be tempted to hunt the couple down. They will have plenty on their plate to sort out and it's best left to them to suggest meeting up. Days before the wedding will give you time to meet other guests and bond with them, and if the couple choose to join you on occasions, then so much the better. Equally, once the wedding is over, the couple will naturally want some time alone together to start their honeymoon. So, again take your cue from them or wave goodbye and make your way home.


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