Are my fiance and I required to book and pay for the flights and hotel rooms for everyone in our wedding party?
"According to traditional etiquette, it's the party's responsbility to get themselves to the wedding, destination or not," says international wedding planner and chief executive officer of DestinationBride.com, Lisa Light. That said, if you know someone won't be able to afford the trip, "it's wonderful to offer to help out," says Light. If you are both discreet about it, it isn't necessary to extend that offer to anyone else. Though some etiquette sources say the couple pays for attendants' lodging, this is seldom followed. So if you book the rooms to save them the effort, be clear about who will pay.
Am I expected to provide something for my guests to do every day?
You absolutely can provide something for your guests to do every day, but it's really a matter of your own preference. At the minimum, have some sort of welcome dinner on the first night so everyone can get acquainted, and provide information about the destination on your website so guests can plan their own activities. "A personalized top-10 list of things to do in the area is also a nice touch," says Tami Corday, director of special events for The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Another good idea: Designate a central meeting place, such as a breakfast buffet, where people can find each other every day.
Can I invite people to my shower if I'm not inviting them to the destination wedding?
If your wedding is intimate and only close family members are invited, you can get away with inviting friends and coworkers to your shower and not the wedding. If you've asked some friends and not others, however, inviting both groups to the shower could create awkward moments for everyone. Instead, have a guests-only shower and host a reception for everyone else after the honeymoon.
Is it tacky to register for gifts if we're having a destination wedding?
It is not tacky at all to register for gifts if you're having a destination wedding as long as you make sure your wish list covers a wide range of prices -- after all, you don't want anyone to feel pressured to spend more than they're comfortable with. "Remember that your guests will be spending lots of money to get to the wedding, and that's a huge gift in itself," says Brenda Babcock, whose company, Italia Celebrations, organizes destination weddings throughout Italy. If creating a wish list makes you feel uncomfortable, suggest that guests make donations to your favorite charity instead, or skip it altogether.
The resort where we're getting married sleeps fewer people than the number we're inviting. How do we decide who stays where without hurting anyone's feelings?
"The people who should be given priority to stay with you at the resort are members of the wedding party and immediate family," says Corday. Book their rooms in advance and give the remaining guests two options: the place you're staying and another hotel. That way, everyone's comfort levels -- and budgets -- are taken into account. Make the options clear on your website, and let your guests know that the wedding location has limited availability and requires early booking. To make sure everyone feels included no matter where they are, arrange for activities and transportation at both hotels.
What if one of my bridesmaids misses her flight and can't make it to the ceremony? Are we expected to postpone it?
Unfortunately, the show must go on. It would be too expensive -- and emotionally draining -- to hold up the entire wedding for just one person (assuming, of course, that it's not the bride or groom who's delayed). To prevent your nearest and dearest from being no-shows on the biggest day of your life, every member of the wedding party should allow plenty of time for travel (that means arriving at the wedding location at least a day ahead of time). Unexpected travel glitches are common, though, especially in tropical locales. If you do end up with a missing link, it's better to leave him or her out completely rather than scramble to find a substitute. No one wants to be a second choice. A photo clause in your wedding insurance may help you reassemble everyone at a later date for pics.
One of our guests showed up with a date, but he wasn't invited with one. What's the best way to handle that?
If ever there was a time to use the phrase "Don't sweat the small stuff," this is it. When you're hosting an event, the comfort of your guests (yes, even the unexpected plus-one) should come before yours -- even on your wedding day. Your response, no matter how perturbed you are, should be to "smile, say you're glad he or she could make it, and ask the wedding planner or caterer to add a place setting," says Babcock.
Are my husband and I obligated to spend all our time with our guests? We want to be able to have some time to ourselves.
"No, especially if you don't fill every moment of every day with mandatory group activities," says Light. "That said, you'll have plenty of alone time on your honeymoon." In other words, you don't have to act like a cruise director, but you shouldn't be antisocial, either -- there will be time for that once everyone's gone home. If it's possible, you may want to consider honeymooning somewhere else entirely. That way, you won't feel required to spend time with any guests who have decided to stick around for a longer vacation.
How can we discourage guests from bringing gifts to the wedding? We don't want to have to ship anything home or cram extra boxes into our luggage.
There will always be a few guests who will come to your wedding bearing gifts, even if it took them three plane rides and a helicopter trip to get there. Planning ahead is your best strategy. First, be sure to register at stores that give guests the option to ship gifts directly to your home address. For those guests who do end up bringing gifts to the wedding, designate either your wedding planner or a family member to collect and transport the gifts home for you.
If the wedding is outside the U.S., you may not need to strategize much at all. Most guests will likely be discouraged by customs restrictions.
The bottom line: No matter how much it inconveniences you, a gift is a gift and should always be appreciated. Accept it with love and gratitude.
What are the dos and don'ts of making our guests feel welcome at our wedding while not pressuring them to attend?
Do let your guests know that you'll absolutely understand if they can't make it. After all, you don't want anyone to feel obligated to attend, especially since it's likely that they'll have to spend much, much more than they would if you were getting married locally.
Don't be overly effusive about this; otherwise, guests will start to wonder whether you actually want them there at all. Saying you won't feel bad if they stay home is one thing, but putting it on repeat will only make them feel like B-listers.
What's the protocol for the reception we're having for those who couldn't make it to the wedding?
There is no written etiquette on this, so it really depends on your preference and your situation. As for whom to invite, Light suggests including a note with the wedding invitations announcing a reception once you return home. That way, those who can't attend will know right off the bat that they'll be able to celebrate with you later on.
As for your wedding dress, you're probably better off not wearing it again -- at least from a practical standpoint. Dry-cleaning a wedding dress is expensive, and you'll have to do it twice. More than an actual wedding reception, this second celebration should be a big, fun party. If you think of it that way, you'll feel less pressure to wear your dress, have a first dance, and cut the cake.
One of our guests damaged the rental property where the wedding took place, and we've lost our deposit as a result. Should they be expected to pay us back?
Ideally, the person who caused the damage should have fessed up and offered to pay for it right away. But they didn't, so now you've got to take action. "First, let the guest know exactly what happened," says Light. "Then ask, 'Do you have any suggestions on how we should handle this?'" It's a great, subtle way to put the ball in their court without being rude. Hopefully your guest will do the right thing.
Unfortunately, though, responsibility ultimately lies with the person who signed the contract, which is most likely you, the groom, or the parent. Therefore, it's wise to purchase wedding liability insurance. It can cover weather, damage to the gown, the need to postpone the event, and yes, damage done by unruly guests. Research well before signing anything.
Get inspired by DIY details these real couples created for their big day.See the Latest