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Destination weddings are quickly becoming a popular option for couples on a budget or for those who don’t want to plan a big wedding. It’s an appealing choice for brides and grooms who simply want to feel the sand between their toes and the stress of planning a big event slip away.
However, attending a destination wedding can leave guests with some big questions and some even bigger decisions. We asked Karen Gill, a wedding specialist with plan-a-destination-wedding.com, to offer advice for guests who are attending a destination wedding.
Gill says guests should be aware of any details concerning the wedding that have been provided to them ahead of time. These details may appear on the invitation or, in keeping with a growing trend, on a wedding website. Details on attire, themes and special requests will most likely be provided in one or both of these places.
“You get some guests who just go with the flow, show up and don’t pay attention,” says Gill. “They need to really be aware of details that are provided to them.”
Guests who want to find out more about the location can do Internet research, but according to Gill, the information they find isn’t always going to be trustworthy. Gill says guests shouldn’t hesitate to contact the couple’s wedding specialist to ask for advice or information because he or she can provide you with the most accurate response.
Dress to impress
Dressing to impress might not mean what you think it does at a destination wedding. If, for some reason, attire is not specified, guests should pack several clothing options, says Gill, such as something casual for a beach ceremony and something more formal in case there are indoor events.
You’re probably safe leaving the tuxedos and gowns at home, though. “With destination weddings, they generally tend to be more relaxed than your at-home wedding,” says Gill. Generally, men can forgo a tie and women – even those among the bridal party – can skip the stockings.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Things like transportation and gifts should be handled ahead of time, says Gill. Generally, if the wedding is not on a resort, the couple should take care of transportation to and from the wedding site.
She also suggests that it would be wise to give any boxed gifts to the couple before leaving, because taking gifts with you could result in damages and expensive shipping bills. There’s also the couple to think about: “They’re taking a lot of extra things with them and they would be incurring the expense of bringing it all home,” she says. “Also, a lot of brides and grooms insist they won’t accept a gift because their gift is having people attend the wedding.”
If guests prefer to bring gifts with them, monetary gifts are the way to go, according to Gill. An emerging trend for couples with jet-set lifestyles is honeymoon registries where you can buy the couple a gift certificate at a travel agency. “It’s the gift of future travel and couples love it,” says Gill. “Obviously, if they’re doing a destination wedding they like to travel, so it’s very fitting to the couple’s lifestyle.”
Celebrate and relax
As a bonus, guests should look at attending a destination wedding as an opportunity for a vacation. Since you’re getting away from your daily life, you might as well make the best of your experience. Yes, attending the wedding is part of the deal, but you will have a lot of time to do other things on your own. “You can do as little or as much as you want,” says Gill. “It’s a beautiful thing.”