Elise Mac Adam is the author of Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone in Between (compare prices). A modern take on good wedding behavior, her book aims to help brides do the right thing.
"Miss Wedding Manners" stopped by recently to provide insight on how to handle some sticky destination wedding situations with grace.
Can I invite people to my bridal shower if I'm not inviting them to my destination wedding?
You should not invite anyone to your shower who isn't going to be on your wedding guest list. (The exceptions to this policy are very specific, for instance, office bridal showers where co-workers aren't going to be invited to the wedding.) The reason for this is that since showers require that guests bring gifts, it looks grabby to invite people to the lesser party but have them not make the cut for the main event. You can have a little more flexibility if you have a post-elopement or post-destination wedding reception back at home where you invite all of those shower guests, but you have to know that you are going to have the later at-home celebration before you send the shower invitations.
I want my wedding to be an adults-only affair. How can I make sure that people don't bring their kids?
The short answer is: don't invite children. Don't put their names on the invitation or write "and family" on the envelope. You must also prepare for prospective guests who have children to send their regrets. It is often hard for people to travel without their children, or trust untested childcare (if they do take the kids on the trip with them but plan to leave them at a hotel for the wedding and reception). Understand that just as you decided you don't want to have children at your wedding, they may have to conclude that they can't attend, and there should be no hard feelings about it on either side.
Can we register for gifts if we're having a destination wedding?
Whether you're eloping or having a destination wedding, you can always register for presents. What you shouldn't do in either case is demand gifts, which means you shouldn't print your registry information on your wedding invitations. In the case of elopements, people may or may not feel inclined to give wedding presents, so you can't count on receiving them the way you could if you were having a full-on wedding.
Who pays for the events surrounding the actual wedding and reception at destination weddings?
Guests should never have to pay for themselves at any organized event surrounding the wedding. So, while they are responsible for their travel and accommodation expenses, they should not have to pay for their meals at the wedding reception or rehearsal dinner, if there is one. Any invited event should be taken care of for them. On the other hand, if guests are offered a list of local activities that they can partake of in between the scheduled events, they take on those expenses themselves. The basic guideline should be: if they are invited to do something, they shouldn't have to pay for it.
I'm having a destination wedding and a reception closer to home a few weeks afterwards. Do I invite everyone to both events?
The key to keep from losing your mind is to invite people only to the event you want them to attend. Issue separate invitations for the destination wedding and reception and come up with separate guest lists for both affairs. Even if there is considerable overlap in those lists, you need to keep them separate. This will keep everything very clear and organized for you and it will help keep costs down because there is no chance you will wind up with a surprisingly huge turn out for your destination wedding if you only invite as many people as you can accommodate in the first place.