Image by Susan Stripling from Natasha and Jez’s Jewish destination wedding in the South of France
This is a guest post by Lisa Shiner
Like most little girls, when I dreamt of my wedding, I imagined myself as a princess. Not one of those modern-day braided-hair and frozen-storm-inducing Scandinavian ones — more the royal variety.
Even after years and countless weddings planned, I still believe in a version of that same dream. Admittedly, I no longer long for the fairytale, but do honestly believe that, for her wedding, every bride should be a princess.
But not in the way that you’re thinking…
Be thoughtful of your guests
In an ideal world, the term “fairytale” could refer less to emulating royal affectations and more to embracing wedding etiquette fit for a queen. Certainly, it is your wedding and at the same time a perfect opportunity not to demand the royal treatment but rather bestow it. Family and friends who are investing their time and money to attend your destination wedding deserve to be listened to, honoured, respected and personally acknowledged.
Destination weddings are magical. Whether yours is set on a faraway beach paradise, an atmospheric desert location, or a spiritual site half a world away — destination weddings are woven from a complex fabric of families, emotions, circumstances, travel and sometimes even exhaustion. In trying to juggle these elements, it’s essential to keep a clear head and, equally importantly, keep the process enjoyable for both you and your future guests. As basic as this may sound, the best way of achieving this is by simply being thoughtful. Thoughtful of your own desires and requirement of course, this is after all your special day, but thoughtful also of the time, effort and expense which will inevitably be experienced by those who care for you and wish to be part of your special occasion.
Image by Joy Marie Photography from Starr and Jacques’ Jewish destination wedding in Palm Beach
Plan ahead. Far, far ahead
If you expect families and friends to travel to faraway (and often expensive) locales, you must give them a great deal of advanced notice. As soon as you have set a date and a place — let people know. The important element here is time: give your guests lots of it. Don’t wait for formal invitations or creative Save the Dates, send an email or even simply pick up the phone to relay a thoughtful and personal message.
Graciously accept guest list casualties
Understand that some guests won’t be able to spend the money on the trip to your destination wedding and accept their RSVP graciously. Aside from the obvious financial expense, their reasons for not attending could be due to any number of circumstances such as annual leave restrictions, childcare logistics, or simply a personal situation that you’re unaware of.
Whatever you do, don’t make your guests feel guilty if they can’t attend and tell them that you absolutely understand. I’m sure that, if it were in anyway possible, they would undoubtedly be there having a ball with you and celebrating by your side.
Set up a wedding website
Consider setting up your own wedding website which will accompany your guests throughout the period leading up to the wedding. Some platforms even offer RSVP services which will come in handy down the road. Your wedding website can periodically be updated to contain useful information pertaining both to the event itself as well as your elected destination.
Image by David Bastianoni from Natalie and Oren’s Jewish destination wedding in Florence
Time together and time apart
For the people traveling to your destination wedding you should consider offering a plan. Communicate to them (again, as far ahead as possible) all of your schedules. Make sure you mix it up with “official” wedding events, casual “optional” activities, recommendations for accommodation and day tours and some free time (complete with recommendations, or even a guide, for great local things to do and places to eat, shop, and play). Time spent together with those you love will be memorable; and time spent apart will make the heart grow fonder (advice both for your wedding and your marriage!).
Gifts (again, not what you think)
Many of the couples I talk to give a great deal of thought to the wedding gifts they’ll receive. In some cultures, the wedding registry inventories every dessert spoon and bowl. In others the couple attempts to predict the amount of money they will collect on their wedding day with CFO-accuracy. When it comes to destination weddings, I would suggest trying not to think about those wedding gifts. For a brief moment, take those cataloguing / CFO-ing skills and look at your event from your guests’ perspective: travel arrangements, accommodation, holiday time, childcare expenses and more.
Without even considering a gift, your wedding is likely to be costing them a small fortune. Consider compiling a thoughtful welcome basket which can be provided to your guests. What you include in your welcome gift will vary by destination and interest. I’ve seen everything from champagne to flip-flops, toys for kids and truffles to local olive oil, spices and nuts. Consider adding to these schedules, contact information, local attractions and a personalized welcome note.
Guests travelling to your destination wedding will be far from home. Give some thought towards addressing specific dietary requirements (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, nut allergies) with a simple question sheet as part of your invitation. Your caterer will be able to easily accommodate most such requests and it’s another thoughtful way of making your guests feel cherished and at home.
Image by Dima Vazinovich from Liran and Etay’s Jewish destination wedding in Mitzpe Ramon
Getting there and back
You’ve selected a beautiful location for your wedding and can’t wait for your big day to arrive. Dedicate some additional time to considering how your guests can arrive at and depart from your chosen location. If providing organised transportation in the hot summer months, consider handing out refreshments as part of the drive. If you won’t be organising transportation yourself, help your guests by providing them with travel options, such as the telephone number of a good taxi or chauffeur company, or even public transportation schedules.
The people who travel to attend your wedding are likely to be your closest friends and family: those who will stand by you as take your vows to your newly betrothed and those who will be beside you throughout your lives. Enjoy making significant and fond memories with them at your destination wedding and enjoy cherishing those memories for the rest of your lives! Mazal tov!
Lisa Shiner is a Partner at BE Group TLV, a premier wedding and private events consultancy based in Tel Aviv. The company offers tailored event planning and production for international clients looking to hold an elegant celebration in Israel. Lisa combines a background in law with over seven years of experience in the luxury events industry. A certified member of both the UK and Israel Bar, she has pioneered well-drafted vendor agreements, in both English and Hebrew, for BE Group clients. The special day itself is meticulously monitored and supervised start-to-finish by a professional on-site team for optimal results.