Destination weddings are so much fun especially if they take place in a country that you haven't visited before — discovering a new culture and attending a fancy party? Count us in! But they can also be a bit tricky when it comes to etiquette. For example, since you're paying for airfare and accomodation, are you still expected to bring a gift? (For the record: YES, always.) What if you want to invite a friend to come along with you? These are all important questions that we asked destination wedding expert Diann Valentine and some of her answers may actually surprise you.
1. Is it OK if I bring a plus one to a destination wedding?
'It is only acceptable to bring a guest to a destination wedding when you have been invited to bring a guest. In other words, was the envelope addressed to you or you and a guest? If you are unsure then always ask and never assume. Personally, I believe it is in poor taste to invite anyone to a wedding alone. The couple of honor spends so much time with the formalities and trying to visit as many people as possible, so it can be awkward or even boring for any guests restricted to attending alone.'
2. Will the couple cover some of my expenses?
'For destination weddings, I think couples should pay for the ground transportation needs of the guests and all food and beverages for hosted events. It is normal for guests to expect to incur all of their travel expenses such as air, hotel, passport or visa fees but once they touch down in the destination city, couples will usually take over the expenses.'
3. What if I want to stay at a different hotel?
'If the couple is handling all travel arrangements for guests and they prefer another location, then they [the guests] should definitely expect to incur those expenses. Many times, couples are able to secure really good package rates to include hotel rooms and even a number of complimentary rooms, so choosing to stay at another location is likely within a different cost structure for the couple. Be mindful of this.'
4. Is it OK to skip the pre-wedding events organized by the couple?
'Yes, I believe that it is fine for guests to opt out of some of the other events. When planning destination weddings, we always ask guests to confirm their attendance at every event so that they have the option of opting out and the couple is not incurring expenses for the events they will not attend.'
5. Can I bring my kids to the wedding with me?
'It is important for guests to discuss the inclusion of kids at the wedding. If guests must bring their children but the invitation has indicated an adult-only affair, then they should not assume that their kids can be the exception. Discuss the options with the bride or groom. If you are unable to travel with a nanny for your children, they may have planned for a solution for the little ones.
Also be careful in hiring local nannies. Although most companies will have been screened by your hotel, you can never be too careful with your little ones. If you must hire a local nanny, ask the bride and groom about the possibility of an adjoining room to the wedding where the kids can play with the local nanny so you can at least remain close and check on them throughout the evening.'