Planning a destination wedding is exciting, and one of the most exciting parts of the process is sending your wedding invites.
While it will naturally be a special day regardless, there’s something just a bit more thrilling about sending out invites to Tahiti, than there is at the church down the road.
But there’s a lot more to consider when sending a destination wedding invite, than if you were having a traditional wedding at home; different information to communicate, different timelines for sending, and different etiquette on what to write.
Don’t be overwhelmed though, because once you know what you’re doing it’s all very easy. After inviting 200 people to our destination wedding in Hawaii, I’ve written this post with all the destination wedding invite secrets you need to know!
How to do Destination Wedding Invites Right! How to Make Them, How to Send Them, and Etiquette on What to Write
How to Make Destination Wedding Invites
Wedding invitations these days are very easy to DIY, and there are a huge range of apps and websites like BasicInvite.com, which allow you to create them for free and completely customize.
You log in, and can instantly upload all of your wedding details, plus any images you want included, and even a map with directions. You can either stick with pre made templates that have already been designed, or play around with colors, fonts and styles to design something totally custom.
Start out by finding your style. Your invitation will set the tone of your event, and give your guests an insight into what the tone / atmosphere of the wedding will be like.
For instance, are you going for romantic calligraphy fonts? Or are you going for something wild and quirky? Chilled out and beachy? Tropical and fun?
Picking a theme for an invite can be overwhelming, but well established wedding invite sites (and this is why we love Basic Invite!) will have pre-made templates for a range of different themes, with color palettes and fonts already styled.
You can either use these templates as a base to keep building upon with your own tweaks to design, or just drop your details straight in, and not have to make any design changes.
Basic Invite for instance, has 50 + different templates for themed wedding invite designs, including beach, forest, sophisticated, fairytale (European castle wedding anyone?!), and even country specific destination invites, like Indian.
So pick your theme, and make this apparent in your wording.
While you’re on the site you’ll also find templates for Save the Dates, enclosure cards, wedding menus, wedding programs, and even matching thankyou cards, so it’s worth considering if you want to make all your wedding stationary at the same time.
Two Different Style Examples: Ranch vs NYC Glamour
Who to Invite
Once you’ve made your invitation, you’ll need to know how many to print, which means coming up with a list of who you’ll invite.
Depending on the ease and the expense of getting to the destination you’ve chosen, you might not have to be picky with your guest list, and may find that it naturally culls itself because of the travel requirements.
For instance, we invited 200 to our destination wedding in Hawaii, knowing we would receive a high rate of decline, and ultimately had 40 guests attend (from Australia). Though those that declined still felt special for having been invited.
While a destination wedding is a great way to avoid hurt feelings that someone didn’t get an invite, you should always expect that everyone you invite will say yes from a budget standpoint.
For instance if you only budget for 40 guests but invite 200, you’re in a tough position if everyone says yes. If you have a feeling most of your guests will make the effort to attend, it’s far better to send your invites based on your budget, than to be in the position of having to rescind an invite.
If you’re considering sending invites in rounds, ie sending a first set of invites, and sending a second set after you’ve gauged the intention to travel, order extra invites when you’re making your first order so you don’t have to go back and reorder.
How & When to Send Destination Wedding Invites
When you’re sending your destination wedding invites, you have to remember that you’re asking people to travel, so you’ll need to give as much notice as possible – much more than you would for a traditional wedding invite.
We recommend you send your Save the Date cards 12 months in advance of the wedding. These are usually optional, but in the case of a destination wedding they give people enough notice to start saving and planning for the time off, while still giving you enough time to lock in the details that will go on the formal invite.
Noting that people need to actually book flights and accommodation, your formal invitations with full details of the wedding should be sent at least 3 – 4 months in advance, but once again, the more notice you give people the better.
While most people will know pretty early on whether they’ll be able to make a trip happen or not, include an RSVP date of around 3-4 weeks before the wedding. This allows for anybody on the fence with their savings to catch a last minute deal on flights.
What to Write on a Destination Wedding Invite
When you’re writing out your formal destination wedding invite, there’s a lot more information required than just the time, date, and directions to the venue.
And because there’s a lot of information to include, you’ll need to acknowledge / accept that you’re not going to fit it all onto one card.
Trying to fit too much information into one card can confuse and overwhelm the person reading it, so keep your main invitation simple and special, and include an information pack or booklet with the rest to break up the details.
Between your main invite and your information pack, be sure to include the following. And just as you did with the design, remember when you’re writing out your invite to set the tone of the event you’re planning.
Be Specific About Who’s Invited
This is really important for a destination wedding. A traditional wedding might be able to cater last minute to kids or a secret partner showing up who you didn’t have on the guest list, but for a destination wedding this is far more important.
Are you extending the invitations to partners? For most people traveling, they’ll take the opportunity for this to double as a holiday, which may mean they bring their partner. And this is the same for those who have children.
If partners and children are invited, explicitly spell this out on the invite. For instance, Megan and Mike + family. Or, Megan + partner.
But just as important as being specific about who is invited, is being specific about who is not. If partners and children are not invited you can’t just address an invite to Megan – you’ll need to additionally specify that you can’t accommodate additional numbers.
This is really important, as travel is often expensive, and miscommunications here can be costly, and potentially sour your relationship. If partners and children are not invited, they may still travel with your guest, but find something else to do during the wedding.
If they know this from the start and can plan for it, there won’t be any problems (and many resorts have kids clubs with babysitting services). But it’s important information your guests will need to know as part of their decision making.
How to tactfully express who’s not invited
The wedding will be held at the adults only XXX resort. While the wedding party will be accommodated here, if you are traveling with children here are our recommendations for close-by resorts which have kids club / baby sitting services for your attendance on the day of the wedding.
While we are limited on numbers for attendance at the wedding ceremony and reception, if you will be traveling with a partner they are more than welcome at our pre and post wedding events.
Include All Logistical Details
It’s standard to include the date, time, and location, and often also quite common to include directions to the venue on a traditional wedding invite. But think about all other logistics.
If the resort or location you’re getting married at is huge, where exactly will you be? For instance, if you’re getting married on a beach, which end of the beach? How do guests get there? Is there adequate signage in their language?
Make sure you include all of the following:
Logistical info to include on a destination wedding invite:
➡ Date, time, and location
➡ Directions to the ceremony and reception
➡ Transport details (how do they get to the venue)
➡ Dietary requirements (especially important if the local cuisine of the country you’re in is foreign to most guests)
➡ Dress code (especially important if there are any cultural norms or etiquette guests aren’t familiar
As opposed to leaving your guests to their own travel planning, it’s also helpful to include travel details within your wedding invite. As this could be a longer document, you can include this as a separate card to the actual wedding invite.
Travel details could include details of the best companies to book flights, the flights the wedding party will be taking, and where the wedding party will be staying.
A lot of the time, hotels and resorts will offer group discounts for bulk bookings, so you can often call and negotiate a discount code with local accommodation and include this information in your invite.
You can also include tips for places to visit, and where to eat in the area, for activities your guests can do while there are no official wedding activities, and any other helpful information like cultural etiquette, or the weather for helping them plan what to wear on the day.
It’ll be especially important to let them know if your wedding falls during peak season or busy traveling dates for that destination, so they have enough notice that they need to book in advance.
Pre and Post Wedding Events
My wedding guests at a Lūʻau in Hawaii pre ceremony
While you certainly don’t have to plan out a huge itinerary, it’s normal for a destination wedding to have some pre or post wedding events. Because your guests have made such a journey to celebrate with you, this often means that a destination wedding lasts longer than just the big day.
For instance, our guests joined us in a Hawaiian Lūʻau the day before our actual wedding. And you might choose to have the bucks / hens night prior to the wedding but in your actual destination.
If you’re planning any pre and post wedding events, the details should be included on the invitation (once again though this can be a separate card to the invite itself – don’t be scared to send an ‘invitation pack’!).
People aren’t realistically going to be flying in for just the day, so you should expect that they’ll work in their own leisure time and tourism around the wedding. As such it’s important they know in advance which dates and times to keep free for official events.
You’re certainly not expected to pay for the travel of your guests, or even your wedding party. But it’s worth indicating this on your invitation, that travel costs are at their own expense.
It’s tacky to come out and say this so blatantly, and it’s often assumed, however a tactful way to approach it would be to waive your right to wedding gifts.
Most destination weddings, considering your guests are bearing an expense to be there with you, will include a line to the following effect:
“No need to give us a wedding gift, your making the journey to join us is gift enough in itself!”
Have Someone Review Before You Send
Once your wedding invites have been designed and written, have someone else proof read your text. It’s very easy to overlook typos, and you may have also overlooked a logistical detail that you assume people would know.
This is also especially important if you’re including addresses and location details in another language to your native tongue. You don’t want to send guests to the wrong location in a foreign country, so double, triple, and quadruple check!
You’re Done! Time to Seal the Envelope!
And with that, you’re done! You’ve completed your destination wedding invites!
Now for the really fun part – waiting for the reactions from your family and friends when they hear where they’ve been invited!
Pro tip: Due to health safety we don’t recommend licking envelopes. Basic Invite recommends using stickers to seal them instead.