Invited to a Destination Wedding? 16 Things To Consider When Deciding Whether To Attend

If you’ve ever received a destination wedding invitation, you might agree that the moment can be as exciting as dreadful, as it’s not easy to decide whether to RSVP. These tips can help you determine whether to decline or accept the invite and how to manage the oh-so-delicate situation if it knocks on your mailbox.

1: Love Your Bank Account First

Person with pencil going through a bank statement.
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No matter how much you care about your engaged family member or friend, they’re not worth going into debt. So, the first thing to do is to run through the wedding trip expenses to see if you can afford it. Don’t forget to tack on some emergency cash.

2: Check the Kid Policy

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If you have children, verify if they’re invited. Some destination weddings are only for grownups, with the wedding festivities even taking place at resorts that don’t welcome kids.

Should children be allowed, a new set of logistic juggling comes into play. Will you have to take them out of school? Can you afford to bring them? Who will watch them if you participate in late evening wedding festivities?

3: Assess Your Vacation Days

Woman at the beach.
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Having vacation days available is a start. But here’s the bigger question: Do you want to use them on a destination wedding?

Some people consider destination weddings selfish because they require guests to use their precious vacation days on an event that often feels like anything but a vacation.

4: Decline With Grace

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Regardless of your stance on destination weddings, you’re important enough for the couple to have invited you. So, if you decide not to attend, push aside any hostile feelings you may have. Explain the “why” behind your decision — expenses, young children, and limited or no vacation time are all legitimate reasons that destination wedding couples should expect.

5: Accept Within the Deadline

Woman holding a blank piece of paper.
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If you’ve decided to attend a destination wedding, RSVP as soon as possible. But if external factors prevent you from doing so, for the love of wedding flowers, respond to the invitation by the deadline. 

6: Check Your Passport’s Expiration Date

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Did you know most countries won’t accept passports expiring within six months? So, if you already have a passport, check the expiration date. And if you’re not a passport holder, complete the application process ASAP.

7: Book Your Reservation in Advance

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Destination weddings aren’t the time for attendees to drag their feet about making flight and hotel reservations. Furthermore, the bride and groom often block hotel rooms. If you want to lock in their discounted hotel rate, you best secure your spot now.

8: Add at Least One Buffer Day

Bored family at airport.
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There’s a laundry list of no-nos when attending a destination wedding. But among the biggest is booking a flight that arrives on the wedding day. You should arrive at least one day before the wedding so that you have wiggle room in case of delays. Should you fly to a different time zone, consider adding even more buffer days.

9: Bookmark the Wedding Website

Woman looking at wedding website.
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It’s a near-wedding planning sin for engaged couples not to create a website with information about their big day. While you can usually get by checking for updates on domestic weddings at the last minute, you could miss out on critical information by doing the same for a destination wedding.

10: Leave Room for a Card

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The couple’s wedding website should specify their stance on gifts. If you’re lucky, they’ll declare that gifts aren’t expected, acknowledging how much their guests are already spending. But bringing a card is a nice gesture.

11: Mail a Gift

Gift wrapped in a heart and surrounded by roses.
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Should the couple seem keen on wedding gifts, don’t bring a gift with you (unless you want to annoy the newlyweds to the core). Instead, mail or give the gift in person before or after the wedding.

12: Use Your Carry-On Wisely

Woman with carry-on bag at airport.
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Bookworms, leave your paperback novels at home. Your carry-on bag will become your lifeline if your luggage gets lost. Pack the necessities you need to attend the wedding festivities and leave the “nice to haves” in your check-through bag. 

13: Research the Destination

Girl looking through a magnifying glass outside.
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Whether you fly to a tropical island or the European countryside, do your due diligence to know what you can — and can’t — buy there. If you have favorite toiletries or are a picky eater, you’re better off packing things you may want and can’t buy at the wedding destination. 

14: Remember That You’re Not Totally on Vacation

Bride and groom running on a beach.
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Here’s a reality check: Destination weddings aren’t about you. Yes, you’re spending your precious vacation days and cash to be there. But attending a destination wedding means you can’t explore on a whim or party around the clock.

Since you’re making an effort to attend the wedding, ask yourself if the bride and groom would approve of whatever action you want to take.

15: Know How You’ll Communicate

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Your cell phone provider may or may not offer an international data plan. But buying a SIM card is one of the cheapest ways to use text, data, and calls abroad. You can get a SIM card from the airport and use it anywhere in the country with cell tower reception.

16: Avoid International ATM Fees

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ATM fees are a punch to an already expensive destination wedding experience. But you don’t have to pay a dime with the Schwab debit card. Schwab’s partnership with millions of ATMs in over 200 countries allows wedding destinationgoers to receive unlimited ATM fee refunds.

How To Never Pay an ATM Fee Again With the Schwab Debit Card

Travel Without a Passport

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If you want to travel abroad but don’t love the thought of going through the passport application process, these are six countries Americans can travel to without a passport.

6 Countries Americans Can Travel To Without a Passport

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