You know you live in a beautiful area when it’s on the list of top destination wedding sites in the United States. Brides from Maine to Michigan choose Hilton Head Island as the locale for the most important day of their lives, and with that decision comes a significant amount of special circumstances and unique wedding planning decisions.
To avoid any etiquette missteps, here are a few tips.
The Guest List
Although it might seem like you should allow every friend to invite a guest along, this is not the case. Besides married couples (obviously), only live-in significant others or those engaged have to be invited. But it is nice to allow your guests to travel with a companion if you can swing it. Also, unlike a regular wedding reception where you can invite only adults, it’s not quite as easy when you’re asking your guests to fly somewhere and take extra time off work. You should include the children of adult guests on the invitation.
Figure out what expenses you’re prepared to pay for and how much you have to spend. The bride and groom should pay for the wedding reception (unless a parent or other loved one has offered), rehearsal dinner, welcome party for guests, morning-after bunch (may be hosted by someone else who volunteers) and attendants’ hotel rooms (for at least two nights, if the stay is longer than that).
Attendants should pay for their airfare and travel expenses, formalwear and accessories, non-wedding-related meals and activities and hotel accommodations if staying for more than two nights.
Guests should pay for: their airfare and travel expenses, hotel accommodations, non-wedding-related meals and drinks and any non-wedding activities they choose to pursue.
Be clear to your guests about how formal the attire will be for each of the planned events, from rehearsal dinner through any post-wedding brunch, and keep your guests in mind when deciding on the dress code. If you’re mixing the levels of formality between the various parties, your guests will have to pack that many more outfits, pairs of shoes and handbags to match each occasion.
It isn’t appropriate, however, to tell them exactly what to wear. Although your vision of everyone in white standing on the beach may be perfect in your mind, it seldom pans out that way in real life. You run the risk of annoying your guests, who are no doubt making quite an effort to attend. And there’s nothing more awkward than when one or two guests show up in dark colors, “ruining” your perfect picture.
It’s OK to have a small group of friends and family accompany you to your destination wedding and then have a larger reception back in your hometown. Separate invitations should be sent to the wedding and the post-wedding celebration, even if you’re inviting some or all of the same people.
It’s acceptable to wear your wedding dress again to the “second reception,” and the groom may wear a tuxedo, although a simple suit also is appropriate. If you’d like to highlight your attendants, you may have them at the reception and give them a place of honor at the head table.
Only those invited to the actual wedding are expected to purchase wedding gifts, though many people attending such a reception will still bring a gift. And be sure to have photos, a slideshow or video of your nuptials, as people will be hoping to get a glimpse of what they missed at your Lowcountry wedding.
Photo by Rob Kaufman