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Destination Weddings: Who Pays for What?

If you are having a destination wedding it can be a little bit confusing to understand the proper etiquette when it comes to costs. Do the bride and groom pay for guests to travel to the wedding? Who pays for the room? What about any meals and activities that guests enjoy while at the destination? Since there are many different expenses involved in a destination wedding that aren’t included in a usual wedding, this can get confusing.

There are certain etiquette rules for more traditional events, but it’s hard to know how these translate into unconventional weddings that are held in far-away locations. Let’s delve into this topic and figure out what the right thing to do is when it comes to paying for a destination wedding.

What are the Bride and Groom Responsible For?

The bride and groom are expected to pay for the wedding reception, the rehearsal dinner, the welcome party and the morning-after brunch. In some cases the parents of the bride or groom might offer to pay for some of this, but that depends on your particular family dynamic.

If possible, it would be well received if the bride and groom can also cover some selected activities for the wedding guests to enjoy such as a tour or a group trip. This can be a wonderful way for wedding guests to bond and to enjoy the beautiful of the destination. Also, a shuttle to pick up guests from the airport is a very nice gesture.

Traditionally, the hosts offer to pay for the accommodations for the bridesmaids and the groomsmen. However, if this will be out of your budget you can let your wedding party know and tell them that they are not obligated to give you any gifts on top of this - just being there on your special day is a gift.

You may also have a bridal luncheon, which is an optional pre-wedding party for your attendants. This can be a great way to show appreciation for your bridesmaids and treat them to a lovely meal.

What are the Guests Responsible For?

Guests should be expected to pay for their transport to the destination wedding, whether that is a plane ticket, train ticket, a tank of gas, etc. Also, guests usually cover their own hotel room stay, although the bride and groom may be able to arrange a discounted price when booking the wedding package at the hotel.

Guests should also expect to pay for any meals and beverages that are not included in the wedding, or any other activities they choose to enjoy while at the destination that have nothing to do with the wedding (such as sightseeing, etc.)

There may be some cases when someone you really want to be at your wedding just doesn’t have the means to pay their own way there. For example, an unemployed sibling or elderly relative who simply can’t afford it. On a case by case basis, the bride and groom might offer to pay for transportation and accommodation expenses for these guests.

This should be done discreetly and it is a good idea not to tell anyone else that you have decided to do this. Not only could others be jealous that you didn’t assist them, the receiver of your help may be embarrassed.

These are the generally accepted etiquette guidelines for who pays for what when it comes to destination weddings. Of course, each wedding is unique and it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you, your partner and your guests.
Photos by Kay Kroshus
Florals by: Quality Event Design
Lighting by: Two Bright Lights

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