Should You Pay for Your Guests to Travel to Your Destination Wedding?

Destination weddings can be tricky—but we have the answers as to who pays for what.
The Knot
Updated Feb 28, 2020

Maybe you're having your wedding in a totally exotic, far-flung location, or simply planning it on a lovely beach in the US (that's what we like to call a "domestination wedding.") Either way, your guests are traveling far and wide to get there, which will obviously include extra expenses such as airfare and accommodations. And that's where it gets tricky—who's expected to pay for what when it comes to faraway nuptials? While some things should be covered by the couple, your guests should definitely expect to pay for many aspects of the weekend. Find our full guide below.

The Couple

As the hosts of the weekend, you're expected to pay for the usual suspects: the wedding reception (whether it's a five-course meal or a beers-and-burgers bash) and the rehearsal dinner. Considering your guests will all be traveling and staying in local hotels for the celebration, it's also a good idea to host a welcome party and a morning-after brunch to fill up the weekend with as many activities as possible and guarantee your guests are happily busy. (The only exception is if a friend or family member volunteers to host either the welcome party or the brunch for you as a gift.)

We also recommend paying for selected activities (maybe a group sailing trip or a double-decker bus tour around town), transportation to and from the ceremony and reception sites, as well as a shuttle to pick up your guests at the airport when they arrive to make the weekend go off as seamlessly as possible. Additionally, if you have a very important guest who has no other means of making it to the wedding (but their attendance would mean the world to you), you should expect to pay for them as well—think: elderly relatives.

The Guests

Just because you're hosting a destination wedding doesn't mean you're expected to pay for 100+ plane tickets and accommodations for your loved ones. Guests should definitely expect to pay for their own airfare to and from the destination, their hotel rooms (although the couple should provide options and hotel blocks as a courtesy—we recommend using HotelPlanner for that), any meals or beverages that aren't part of the wedding festivities and any nonwedding activities they choose to participate in.

The Wedding Party

There are several things bridesmaids and groomsmen should expect to pay for out of pocket. This includes travel and accomodations, formalwear and accessories (per usual), hair and makeup (unless that's something the bride decides to cover for her attendants, and if not, it should be optional) and food and drinks that aren't part of the wedding events.

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