Destination Wedding Guest List Etiquette for Your Nuptials

Destination Wedding Guest List Etiquette for Your Nuptials

Picture this: you’re in the midst of planning your dream destination wedding. After months of choosing your venue, design, style, catering, and more to make your magical wedding a reality, one question looms in your mind: who should be invited?

While compiling your wedding guest list may seem like a daunting task, this handy guide will provide everything you need to know about creating a well-rounded invitee roster without going over budget. Read on to learn destination wedding guest list etiquette, and get ready to send out those RSVPs.

Destination Wedding Guest List Etiquette for Your Nuptials
Photographer: Alyssa Keys | @alyssakeysphoto | https://alyssakeysphotography.com/

5 Destination Wedding Guest List Etiquette Tips

Unlike a traditional wedding, where many of your guests live in the same city or state as you, destination weddings usually require guests to travel, sometimes quite far. This means you’ll need to consider the guest experience and expectations when putting together your invite list. Here are five destination wedding guest list etiquette tips on how to do just that.

1. Choose Your Ideal Wedding Size

When considering destination wedding guest list etiquette, first think about the size of your ideal wedding. Do you want a small, intimate ceremony or elopement? Or do you hope to invite anybody and everybody to your destination wedding? Keep in mind that inviting a ton of guests and expecting many of them to RSVP “No”can backfire quickly. It’s important not to overcommit to an extensive guest list when your budget doesn’t have room for it. The last thing you want is for more people to commit to attending than you planned and to make last-minute adjustments to your venue or catering. 

If you’re having a destination wedding outside the US, such as in Italy, The Bahamas, or some other exotic location, it’s best to keep your guest list small. However, not all destination weddings take place in another country. There are some genuinely amazing US destination wedding locations that more guests may be able and willing to travel to. If you want a larger guest list for your destination wedding, consider marrying on the beaches of Hawaii, the mountains of Colorado, or the sandy shores of Lake Tahoe surrounded by gorgeous mountain views!

2. Consider the Costs You’ll Pay for Your Guests

Before selecting who you will invite to your destination wedding, it’s important to consider costs. A destination wedding guest list tends to be on the smaller side since couples typically pay for some guest expenses. Keeping the list smaller keeps costs down and enables couples to spend their budget on other aspects of the wedding celebration.

While you aren’t required to pay for guests’ travel or accommodations, there are some expenses you should include in your budget for an ideal guest experience. These include:

  • Any meals at wedding-related events, such as the welcome party, rehearsal dinner, reception, and send-off brunch
  • Any wedding-related activities that you plan, arrange, and invite guests to attend, such as a beach day with water sports, a boating adventure, or tours
  • On-site parking fees or transportation to and from your wedding venue if guests cannot stay at the venue itself

Destination Wedding Guest List Etiquette for Your Nuptials
Photographer: Alyssa Keys | @alyssakeysphoto | https://alyssakeysphotography.com/

3. Consider the Costs Your Guest Will Pay and Invite Accordingly

If you’re having an out-of-country or out-of-state wedding, chances are fewer people will be able to afford the travel expenses or take off work for a week-long celebration. Keep this in mind as you navigate destination wedding guest list etiquette. It’s better to keep your guest list small and include those you know have the means to make the trip than invite anyone and everyone, knowing full well that the expense will be too much. You don’t want your guests to feel bad about not being able to afford to attend your destination wedding.

4. Communicate What Expenses Will and Won’t Be Covered

Once you know who you’re going to invite, destination wedding guest list etiquette encourages couples to communicate cost expectations with guests. Let your guests know what expenses are covered so that they can plan and budget accordingly. The best place to include this detailed information is on your wedding website. Make sure your website is set up prior to sending your Save the Dates, and include the URL on the cards. That way, your guests can immediately go to the website for more information about your wedding experience.

Destination Wedding Guest List Etiquette for Your Nuptials
Photographer: Alyssa Keys | @alyssakeysphoto | https://alyssakeysphotography.com/

5. Plan Ahead for Your Guests

Following destination wedding guest list etiquette means developing your guest list well in advance to ensure those invited have ample time to plan their travel and accommodations. If possible, solidify your guest list at least nine months before your wedding. Save the Date cards should go out at least six to nine months before your wedding, followed by official invitations at least two to three months prior.

Destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular, and with good reason! They offer a unique opportunity to celebrate your love in an exotic location with some of your favorite people. However, before you start planning your dream wedding, it’s essential to consider the implications of having a destination wedding from an etiquette standpoint. This post outlined five destination wedding guest list etiquette tips to help you decide who is invited without breaking the bank. Now it’s time to start compiling your list with these key tips in mind. Happy planning!


Wedding Planner: Epic Tyme | @epic_thyme | http://www.epicthyme.com

Officiant: Eva and Mike Crews

Cake: Provided by a friend

Entertainment: Lucky Devils Band | @luckydevilsband | https://www.luckydevilsband.com/

Beauty: Soltice Salon | @solsticesalontruckee | http://www.solsticesalontruckee.com/weddings.html

Florals: Sweet Roots Farm | @sweetrootsfloral | http://SweetRootsFarm.com

Venue: West Shore Cafe & Inn | @westshorecafe | https://www.westshorecafe.com

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Christi Nasser

Epic Thyme Events is an award-winning, luxury Lake Tahoe wedding planning company specializing in designing stunning, customized weddings at Lake Tahoe’s most prestigious hotels and venues. Epic Thyme’s team of planners, designers, and stylists pour their heart, soul, and over 230 hours into each couple’s wedding to execute their vision with excellence. To learn more about planning the perfect Lake Tahoe wedding with Epic Thyme, visit us at www.epicthyme.com. Instagram: @epic_thyme.
April 19, 2022

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