Keeping the guest list small is one of the benefits of a destination wedding. As you’re only having a handful of guests you won’t be expected to invite the whole team from work or second cousins you haven’t seen since you were kids. So how do you decide who to include as destination wedding guests?
If you have already chosen your venue you may have been given a maximum capacity, but otherwise just jot down the names of close friends and relations that you don’t want to be without on your big day. The golden rule in putting together your destination wedding guest list is to invite people based on the fact that you want them to come, not whether you think they will actually be able to make the journey. It may be easier to think of it as a list of people you’d like to go on holiday with instead of a list of destination wedding guests.
Just putting the location and address of the wedding venue will let your guests know that it is a destination wedding so the wording of the invitation doesn’t need be very different to the wording for a traditional home wedding. However, many couples decide to put in an extra line explaining that they’d love the invitee to attend the wedding, but that they appreciate it might be too far to travel. This is a convenient way of saying to your guests that you won’t be upset if they don’t attend.
You will need to come to terms with the fact that fewer people will be able to attend a destination wedding than a home wedding. Work commitments, holidays that are already booked, and money issues can all make it difficult for guest to attend a destination wedding.
Guests will need to be informed a lot earlier than usual to save up and plan for a destination wedding. One of the best options is to send out save the date cards as soon as you have set a date, at least a year in advance if possible. It’s a good idea to include additional information about the trip, especially if you have managed to negotiate a good price on flights or accommodation with your travel agent.
After you have sent out the cards, you will probably start to get an idea of how many guests will be attending as they will be planning their trip and will probably be calling you with enquiries. Send out formal invitations to everyone that received a save the date card, even if you don’t expect them to come.
Brides and grooms that have a destination wedding often decide to have an informal gathering, such as a barbeque when they return home, so that everyone who couldn’t make the wedding can still come and join them in their celebrations.
If it’s possible to plan this before you send out the wedding invitations, you can put both parties on invite, and that way guests that can’t attend the destination wedding don’t feel they are missing out completely. To avoid misunderstandings, include an rsvp card so guests can tick whether they are attending the destination wedding, the party at home, both, or neither.