A beach destination wedding is a wonderful way to celebrate with family and friends in a beautiful, relaxing and fun location. When it comes to who pays for what though, things can get confusing.
Often a beach destination wedding means wedding, reception and sometimes the honeymoon are all spent at a far away beach hotel or resort with the closest of family members and friends. So when it comes to who pays for what, it's not as simple as it might be with a hometown wedding, although there are similarities. There are many other expenses to consider in this wedding situation, though, such as airfare, accommodations, meals, activities, and that’s where the confusion comes into play.
The following is a general guide to the etiquette of destination wedding spending, based on suggestions from leading wedding planning books and consultants.
Wedding: Bride and groom pay.
Reception: Whether at the destination or at home, this is also paid for by the bride and groom.
Travel Costs: The guests pay for their own travel expenses; however the bride and groom may work with a travel agent to find group's rates and then offer this to the guests (well ahead of time with the save the date cards so they can plan accordingly). Also, the bride and groom traditionally pay the travel costs of special guests who would not be able to make it to the wedding otherwise and for a webcam service at the wedding (if one is available) for guests who can't make it to the wedding but want to be there in spirit.
Transportation if needed to specific wedding location (perhaps it's a deserted beach or hidden waterfall away from the hotel): Bride and groom pay for guests, and wedding attendants pay for their fares.
Accommodations: The guests pay for their own rooms, and the bride and groom pay for their attendants' room. The logic behind this is that guests often have to travel anyway to attend a wedding. A destination wedding may not be any farther away from their homes as the bride and groom's town. Granted, destination weddings are often held at far more expensive hotels and resorts than where guests may stay if traveling to the bride and groom's hometown. However, it's accepted that many guests won't be able to make it to a destination wedding.
Rehearsal Dinner: Bride and groom pay.
Selected Activities: Bride and groom pay for activities they schedule for guests and themselves.
Activities and meals not part of the wedding plans: Guests pay.
Wedding party's attire: Bride's attendants and groomsmen pay. They would also pay for incidentals such as hair and nails.
Destination weddings can save the bride and groom money; however, they can be expensive for guests and the attendants. Keep in mind that many of your guests won't be able to attend for this reason, and don't take it personally. Be sure to be clear about who pays for what.
When you ask someone to be your bridesmaid or your fiancé invites someone to be a groomsman, it's only fair to give them a good estimate of what their expenses will be and what you and the groom will be covering. That way they can consider if this is something their budget can afford before they accept. If it's not, then there are no hard feelings later because of this news being delivered a week before your wedding.
Once everyone's clear about who pays for what at your beach destination wedding, you can then expect RSVP's so you can begin planning for a certain amount of guests, and you can being planning fun activities and gift bags for your guests and attendants.