How to Be a Good Destination Wedding Guest

A wood-and-canvas altar and chairs awaiting the ceremony by the ocean.

Because I have been a destination wedding bride, I know what makes them tick. Unfortunately, our awesome guests can contribute to some of our headaches—like when you bring along that extra guest who wasn’t invited, when you plan that excursion on the same day as the welcome reception or when you decide you want to book travel on your own, outside of the group. Just thinking about these things makes me, and probably every other destination wedding bride, cringe

I have been there. So while I’m speaking for all destination wedding brides, I also know attending a destination wedding is a big time and money commitment on your part. I want to help you (the guest) with some tips for how to be a good destination wedding guest and, ultimately, have a great time.

Tips for Destination Wedding Guests

Do: Make sure you know the cost the bride and groom are expected to pay for you. Make sure you have done the math before committing. You can think of if as a vacation with a non-negotiable event.

Do: RSVP and follow all deadlines including payments. There is nothing like the text we get from the travel agent who says they still haven’t heard from that one person who is late.

Don’t: Invite your own guests to someone else’s wedding. It’s rude—plain and simple. Would you want a stranger showing up eating up your food and drink? While it may seem like the rules have changed because this is a destination wedding, if the guest isn’t included and/or hasn’t gotten an ok for you to invite, don’t do it. Wedding crashers aren’t cool.

Do: Plan ahead. Besides costs, think about activities, taking off work, flights, etc… again, it’s like a vacation, there is prep that has to be done on your end. Please don’t skip this part.

Don’t: Worry about gifts. If you are coming, your presence is all that the brides and grooms usually request. However, if you must, don’t bring it to the destination, have it delivered to their home for easy transport.

Do: Use their registry—why do you think it’s there? If they are telling you what they want, why would you get something else? They have done the work and made it easy, so don’t stray from the list—it honestly just makes everyone happier in the end.

Do: Ask about social media. Weddings are private affairs and even though you are in an insta-worthy location, that doesn’t mean you have to take every picture. Private moments are just that: private. Make sure it is ok to post, especially considering not everyone they knew was invited.

Do: Explore. Take a day leave the resort, try something new.

Don’t: Make it about YOU—it’s not. Find time to show the bride and groom how much they mean to you. Don’t be glued to your phone, the bar or the beach. Make new friends and be part of the celebration.

Do: Communicate. It’s ok if you can’t come, but a solid “No” is better than a half-ass “Yes”. Don’t get us excited for you to come when you knew you were never really going.

At the end of the day, I hope you’re really excited to be a destination wedding bride! You are basically getting to go on a mini-vacation, you’ll get to spend more meaningful time with the bride and groom than at a traditional wedding, and it actually ends up being cheaper for you to attend this than a traditional wedding.

And while it may seem like we’re asking a lot, just remember, this event and celebration has been planned for a long time and means the world to us—and we want you to have just as great of an experience. Ultimately, all you need to do to be a good destination wedding guest just show common courtesy and have fun!