blog post cover wedding guest etiquette
Tips + Advice

Wedding Guest Etiquette: Be the Best Guest in 11 Easy Steps!

Without a doubt, destination weddings are one of the most fun parties you could attend to! You get to visit a beautiful new place, you dress up and wear that killer outfit you’ve been saving, there’s free food and booze, you see old friends, make new ones, and best of all, you celebrate love.

It’s all fun and games until you make a faux-pas and it all goes downhill, you feel out of place or get some angry looks from the wedding party. Learn all about wedding guest etiquette with our 11-steps guide, and be the best wedding attendee there can be!

Couple just married at an open air gazebo with their guests taking pictures
Have fun at your next destination wedding in paradise! Photo credit: 50MM Art Studio.

GUEST LIST RULES

There is a lot of pressure in creating the invitation list, rest assured couples go a long way to make sure everyone invited will have a great time, feels welcome and everything stays within their budget, too.

Usually invites will state if you are to bring a plus one, or the invitation is only for you. The same happens with kids. If it’s impossible for you to leave your kids alone at home, inform the couple within a reasonable time you regretfully won’t be attending.

Stick to their wishes even if you are dying to bring your kids or your two-month date with you. Don’t take it personally! Some resorts won’t allow kids or have a very limited amount of rooms available. Bringing an extra person can mess up the entire organization.

Kids with maracas at a beach wedding
Some weddings may not be able to accommodate kids.

RSVP ASAP

A lot depends on the number of rooms the group will bring to the hotel. From the room rates to some benefits the couple will receive for the party you will get to enjoy. If there is any reason you won’t be able to attend, be honest and inform the couple right away so they adjust seating charts, party gifts, and other details.

Sometimes, wedding venues are assigned according to the size of the group. They may be counting on you to have that amazing ceremony at the rooftop terrace with that striking ocean view! Knowing if you’ll be able to make it will allow them to change plans in a timely manner.

BOOK ON TIME

This is something you don’t want to leave for the last minute. Room availability may vary from one day to another, if you wait too long, there is a real chance you won’t secure a room or you have to book a way-to-expensive, ultra-large suite because that is the only room left in the entire resort.

With the pandemic still going on, fewer resorts allow external visitors. Meaning you must stay at the resort the wedding will take place, or you won’t be able to attend the wedding at all! Also, follow the calendar and deadlines you are given. This will take off lots of stress to the wedding couple (and their travel agents too, LOL).

Aerial view of a resort in the caribbean with a crystal beach and pools
Miss the dates and you could miss the party!

GIFT GIVING

In our experience, most couples are delighted that you join them on the trip and won’t really expect a gift. In case you wish to give them something, it will be best to send it to their home address. It’s likely they will be traveling with lots of baggage and they prefer not to handle wedding gifts during the trip. Can you imagine the hassle of traveling abroad with a stand mixer or a waffle maker?

Also, modern couples have gift registries so gifts are pre-selected. No brainer about choosing the best present, they already did the homework for you!

BE ON TIME

We get it, a destination wedding is the perfect excuse for a mini-vacation, but remember you are committed to their schedule. If you plan to leave the resort to visit a Mayan village lost in the jungle, swim with the whales, or scuba dive, better do it another day. Anything could happen and delays are a high possibility. Resist the urge!

Same with spa services, makeup appointments, or a resort activity. Even if it’s at the premises, be mindful about timing. It’s so easy to lose track of time if you are having fun. The couple planned this day for many months or even years. Enjoy their hospitality and honor their day by being punctual.

Arriving on time to take that shot and your place is part of the wedding guest etiquette
Arriving on time will allow you to take your place and your shot!

SOCIAL MEDIA MANNERS

You may want to show the world you are tanning at a gorgeous beach, how you look with a charro sombrero, and every moment of your trip, but when it comes to the wedding day, you want to go easy on social media.

Destination wedding photographers can charge a substantial amount to cover the whole event. If needed, they will bring staff for video, photo, drone filming, and everything you can imagine. They are the professionals, let them do their thing!

Unless instructed otherwise, let the couple be the first to showcase their day! What a bummer to find your soon-to-be-spouse in full sparkle on insta before the first look moment or the ceremony. If the couple requests not to post anything before the ceremony or during the key moments of their day, please do so.

OUTFIT NO-NOS

Destination weddings tend to be in tropical weather with lots of humidity, so cotton, linen, ample airy dresses, and light suits are good. For a beach, pastels and neutral colors will always be the safe bet.

If it is not the wedding theme, avoid wearing pure white, ivory, and similar, or anything too flashy or polemical. You want to look your best, but it’s their show and it’s their time to shine. If this is a multicultural wedding with attendees from different backgrounds, be respectful and courteous.

Indian wedding guests dressed in white sarongs and with hand tattoos
Weddings are a great opportunity to learn new traditions. Be considerate and humble.

Pay attention to the environment, the season of the year, and the wedding style. Ask the time and location events will take place so you know what footwear to bring. No one wants to suffer a stiletto walk on grass or sand!

When in doubt, always reach the couple. And just in case you wouldn’t know, showing up in bathing suits and flip-flops is absolutely out of the question.

MIX AND MINGLE

Chances are you may not know all the guests. The couple will organize a few activities such as a welcome party, a rehearsal, or a special event for everyone to socialize, get together and kick off the wedding celebrations.

This is your chance to meet the entire party and catch up with family members and old friends. Remember to leave touchy subjects out of the conversation. You are there to have a great time, not to take a political or religious stance!

DRINK MODERATELY

Weddings are usually family-friendly events so you want to have a good time while also maintaining good behavior.

Sure, it may be hard to control your drinks in an open bar situation, just follow the golden rule: one glass of water per one glass of wine. Make sure you eat well, stay hydrated and you’re good to go.

You do want to be fully present and enjoy the entire trip that you paid for. Plus, you don’t want to apologize the next day for any misconduct!

FLOWER FIGHT

That flower bouquet may be gorgeous, or you may really REALLY want to tie the knot next year, but that is no reason to go rugby-style and tackle everyone else around you.

This is a wedding party, not a football field. If it’s for you, it’s for you. Let it happen and keep it civil!

bride tossing the bouquet to the wedding party
Who’s gonna be the next one to wed?! Photo credit: Alex Rojas.

WEDDING SOUVENIRS

Unless specified, decor, lighting, and ambiance accents are not to be taken home with you. They belong to the hotel or a third-party vendor and will be counted at the end of the event. If something’s missing, it will be added to the wedding couples bill.

If you really like it, just snap a pic and then look for it online, or ask the newlyweds. Besides, do you really want to travel home with a big, glass vase or a large no-luggage-fitting candle holder? Take the party favor instead!

Social etiquette was created to keep a respectful, and considerate environment for everyone. Following our destination wedding guest etiquette guide will grant you fun, and many more invites to destination weddings!

Wedding group dancing on the beach
You are ready to be the best wedding guest and enjoy the party!

Thinking about getting married and curious about costs? Learn how much a destination wedding costs. Better yet, get to know our team or get in touch.

PS. Here’s our YouTube Channel for even more destination wedding inspiration!

Give us a call, we love to help!
1-888-472-7077
[email protected]

Ricardo

World-traveler, tea-lover, social media whiz, foodie, plantsman, yogi, avid reader, and sometimes a good cook... +50 hotel visits and counting. How can I help you?

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