Brides Want To Know: Destination Wedding Etiquette—Who Pays?

Dear Here Comes The Guide,

My fiance and I are considering a destination wedding somewhere in California. We aren’t sure what the expectations are in terms of covering the costs of our guests. Also, what do you think is the best place for a California destination wedding? Thanks!

—Janet O., Clackamas, Oregon

Who pays for a destination wedding? Beach wedding at Monterey Tides Hotel

Monterey Tides Hotel


Hi Janet,

You’re not alone in wondering about this aspect of taking your wedding on the road. In fact, for most couples, cost is the biggest concern as they ponder the question, “What do we pay for?” In general, the couple and/or their families foot the bill for food and activities related to the celebration (including mini-events, ranging from a rehearsal dinner to a day-after brunch), while guests are expected to cover their own transportation and lodging expenses.

The considerable investment of time and money by the guests should be acknowledged with more than just a handwritten thank-you note (promptly sent post-event, please!). One way to show appreciation is in the little things, like welcome gift bags with travel amenities or maps and tips for activities. Another is with group discounts (which a concierge and/or wedding planner can arrange) for rooms, golf, spa treatments, and visits to museums or other points of interest. And don’t forget childcare and pet-sitting options! Incorporating any of these amenities will lessen the impact on guests’ wallets.

InterContinental The Clement Monterey

One of my favorite California wedding destinations is Carmel. Top reason? It’s actually TWO destinations in one—the quaint, upscale Carmel-by-the-Sea with its luxe shopping, galleries and scenic 17 Mile Drive; and nearby Monterey, home to historic Cannery Row, fascinating museums, the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium and many waterfront resorts. Carmel/ Monterey offers both an exclusive get-away-from-it-all vibe, and plenty to do: World-class golf, wine tasting, nature hikes, watersports and more will keep loved ones happily entertained…which means newlyweds will have more romantic time to themselves!


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