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Destination wedding etiquette
  • Tasmania
  • Daintree Rainforest
  • The Whitsundays

If the idea of running along the beach barefoot with your wedding gown streaming behind you sounds more tempting than walking down the aisle of a church or registry for your big day, you’re not alone. More and more couples are opting to seek out exciting destinations for their ceremonies rather than have their weddings closer to home.

Australia is one of the most spectacular and diverse countries in the world to hold a destination wedding. You could choose to tie the knot on top of a hill in the Snowy Mountains. You might decide to say your vows on a sailboat while drifting around the Whitsunday Islands. Perhaps your dream wedding is out in the Red Desert on top of Kings Canyon or in a remote part of the Daintree Rainforest. There are countless breathtaking destinations in our vast country to fulfill the dreams of even the most adventurous bride and groom. Wherever you choose to have your dream wedding, there is always one major challenge to consider – your guests.
Few people would disagree that a wedding should be a special day for the bride and groom. Most will agree that the wedding should be held whenever and wherever the bride and groom choose. Many will even agree that it should be all about them – that they should do what they want to do, not what everyone else wants them to do. And some will even argue that if the bride and groom want to exchange vows while skydiving over Tasmania that should be their choice…well, at least, in theory. 
The difficulty for many, comes down to the cost – not the cost for the bride and groom throwing the celebration, but for the guests being invited to a destination wedding where the costs of airfares, hotels and meals will quickly add up. It can be expensive enough going to a wedding as a guest where you bring a gift and are expected to dress up. The wedding party with bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, page boys and ushers may also find themselves lashing out for expensive outfits including shoes and accessories as requested by the couple. Add the cost of travelling to another destination and paying for transportation, hotels, meals and drinks with the couple, and many guests may feel tense about the couple’s choice to wed far away. Before long, that tenseness changes to frustration and irritation that the couple was so “selfish” to choose a wedding that was expensive for everyone else.
So the questions many brides and grooms often ask – who is expected to pay for the bridal party’s travel costs? Is it unreasonable to hold a destination wedding if friends and family can’t afford the trip? What is the etiquette for a destination wedding?
Costs and who pays:
Airfares: The bride and groom are only responsible for their own flights. They should choose their destination with the understanding that many friends and family (including their chosen bridesmaids and groomsmen) may not be able to afford the trip, and so may not come at all. If the couple can find cheaper flights, or group booking discounts, they should relay this information to their bridal party and guests, but understand that it may still be too much. If there is a special friend or family member that they truly want to be there, but who considers it to be too costly – the bride and groom can offer to pay that person’s flights (assuming they can afford it themselves).
Accommodation: Once again, the bride and groom are not obliged to pay for the accommodation of others. Ideally, they will provide a variety of options to their guests and bridal party so that they can find something within their price range that they would enjoy. An excellent place to find a link with a huge variety of choices is www.takeabreak.com.au. By simply selecting the desired destination, your guests can choose from bed and breakfasts, cabins, beachside apartments, boutique hotels, motels and hotels, and even backpacker or camping accommodation! Even better, if your guests have pets or kids, they can do a special search for a place catering to their specific needs. You may even find an accommodation option that could be economically rented out for your whole party. Equally, when you’re planning your honeymoon, you’ll find a search function at takeabreak.com.au to help you select the most romantic options. 
Gifts: It can be a hassle for guests to transport their presents to a far-off destination, and even more of a problem for the bride and groom to transport them all back home. You might want to consider a bridal registry that delivers the gifts to your home after the event (and you can request a later delivery date if you’ll be away for a lengthy honeymoon). Alternatively, you may decide that given the cost to the guests of coming to the destination wedding, you’d prefer to write “no gifts please” in your invitations. This may make it easier for some guests to attend your happy event.
Clothing: Traditionally, the bridal party pays for their own outfits. For groomsmen, this may be as simple as renting a tux or suit from a place at the wedding destination (or better – if it’s part of a chain, choosing the desired outfit from an outlet at home and picking it up at the destination). For bridesmaids, the bride should try to select outfits that take consideration of the extra costs associated with their destination wedding.
Special outings: Destination weddings often comprise side-trips including rehearsal dinners at wineries, or pre-wedding festivities at a nearby attraction. If it is an official part of your wedding (for example, the rehearsal dinner) then the couple should be responsible for all associated costs. Additionally, the couple may offer up a list of suggested outings that all or some of the guests and bridal party can attend at their own expense.
 “Am I selfish to want a destination wedding?” This question is frequently asked. A bride and groom should have their wedding wherever, whenever and however they please. It is their special day and if they want to say their vows at Uluru or sit in a mineshaft in Coober Pedy, that is their choice to make. Equally, it is the choice of any of their friends and family to say, “No, thank you” to the idea of lashing out for an expensive trip. If this is the case – the bride and groom may choose to wed privately at their chosen destination, and then arrange a gathering when they return home in order to celebrate with those friends and family who couldn’t share their happy day.

About the Author
Kylie-Jane Degeling is a freelance writer who has lived in Adelaide, Yulara (Uluru), Alice Springs and Canberra, as well as five different countries throughout the world. After backpacking around Australia, she worked as a tour guide in Central Australia, before training for her Commercial Pilot License and working as a flight instructor, scenic flight and charter pilot. She later worked as a travelling IT trainer for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which involved spending time in each of their 16 District Offices around the country on a rotating basis.

Having experienced Australia as a backpacker, tour guide, pilot and business traveller, Kylie now enjoys family holidays with her husband Alex, and children Jezzy and Jordan. She says, “I have been lucky to see Australia from a variety of perspectives, and as a travel writer can use this experience to inspire others to find holidays they would enjoy.”  Kylie currently works as a travel writer in addition to being a government writer and columnist for two parenting magazines.


About the author
Find out more about Kylie at http://bit.ly/h_experts

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