When you got engaged, you not only heard wedding bells, but you also saw a tropical island and smelled the ocean breeze as you said your vows to your betrothed. A destination wedding is a fun and relaxing way to tie the knot, and what better way to celebrate nuptials than to be somewhere tropical or somewhere that you love visiting?
But when it comes to planning your destination wedding, there are special considerations to keep in mind when thinking about your guests. As you plan you might be asking yourself a few questions like, “How early should you let them know about the wedding” or “What should you do when your guests arrive?” If you’re thinking of planning a dream destination wedding, here are some things to consider for your guests.
Let Them Know Early and Make it Easy to Book
Typically you mail out save the dates about six to eight months before the wedding, but when planning a destination wedding you might want to let your guests know even before that. As soon as you have decided to have your ceremony elsewhere, you should let your parents, close friends, and any other guests you’re considering know just as soon as possible.
Also, as you’re planning, see what dates will work best for them and try to come up with a time that will work well for the most amount of people. Consider making a Google doc or a spreadsheet that has a list of scheduling conflicts for all your guests and invite them to add to it so that you know exactly where you stand with the date.
Once the date has been decided, it’s crucial that you let them know when and where the wedding will be just as soon as possible so that they can make arrangements for flights and hotels. Often, you can arrange for special travel fare if there are several people traveling to one destination, so be sure to check with a travel agent or the resort you’re booking to see if there are any bundled deals or discounts on flights for your particular destination.
Provide Guests with an Itinerary
After your guests have committed and booked their trips, the countdown is on. Now, you need to start thinking about what they will do once they arrive at your wedding destination. If you and your guests have a couple of days before the ceremony, think about arranging some outings that your friends and family would enjoy. Think about organizing things like wine tastings, golf games, parasailing, wind surfing, museums, amusement parks, etc. Once you’ve decided on a couple of things to put on the itinerary, write times and events down and print out a copy to give each guest when they arrive or put the information on your wedding website.
Remember, however, that this is your guests’ vacation too, so don’t pressure them too much to participate in every single event during the wedding. If they would prefer to sit something out and relax, then be sure to be flexible to their needs and wants as well.
Don’t Expect Attendance and a Gift
Attending any wedding can get expensive, but especially a wedding that’s so far from home. To ask your guests to book a flight, several nights in a hotel or resort, and buy you a gift might overwhelm them, so it’s best to refrain from filling out a wedding registry unless you know for sure they wouldn’t be bothered to do both. Remember that it always makes for a happier and more enjoyable wedding when your guests aren’t complaining about how much everything costs.
Know that Not All Your Guests Will be Able to Make It
Even though it would be a blast to have everyone you have ever known and loved party with you on an island (or in cabins in the mountains, or at the top of the Eiffel Tower) for five days celebrating your wedding, it’s just not going to be possible for everyone. Whether it’s because they’re strapped financially, they won’t be able to find a sitter for the kids, or maybe they have a health condition that prevents them from traveling too far, some of your guests (including the very important ones) may not be able to make it.
Though it might be difficult, try to be understanding of everyone’s situation. Destination weddings can be expensive for guests and they are usually quite small affairs, so try not to build up your expectations too high for attendance. If the thought of not being able to celebrate with all your friends and family is unbearable, think about having a small party locally leading up to (or after) the wedding so that you still have a chance to get pictures and plenty of hugs and congratulations from loved ones.