Q&A-How many guests are usually invited to a “Destination Wedding?”?

Question: How many guests are usually invited to a “Destination Wedding?”?
My girlfriend and I were talking about weddings last night, and I told her that my idea for a perfect wedding would be a “destination” wedding somewhere in Spain, Italy, or Greece. My thought is that it would be more fun, and we would be able to share our wedding day with those who matter most to us, rather than with extended relatives, friends of our parents, etc.

She liked the idea in theory, but she said that these weddings are usually very small – normally 20-25 guests total. She is the youngest of three kids, and her two brothers are already married and have kids of their own. She said that her parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, and nephews would be 10 guests for her already, and she would want at least a few more relatives and close friends to be at her wedding.

Are most destination weddings really that small? Also, any ideas on how to have a nice (and fairly fancy) wedding for about 40-50 guests?


Answer by **Sara**

Question: Have you ever eloped/had a “destination wedding”?
If you’ve ever had a “destination” wedding or eloped, can you please tell me if you liked it or didn’t like it? Good and the bad?



Answer by Mo the Great
I was married this past June in Jamaica and it was the best decision we ever made. Check out www dot bestdestinationweddings dot com for more info on destination weddings.

Question: What counts as a “destination wedding?”?
We live in SE Michigan, and we want to get married in Chicago. It’s a 2 and a half to 3 hour drive for my family, add maybe 45 minutes to that for his. I was wondering if this counts as a destination wedding since it is out of state and is a couple hour drive, and if so, what is the etiquette for this? Am I expected to pay the travel costs to the guests?


Answer by HIS!
It’s probably technically a “destination wedding”. However you don’t have to pay the travel costs for your guests whether or not you have a destination wedding.

Know better? Share your answer in the comments below.

23 comments to Q&A-How many guests are usually invited to a “Destination Wedding?”?

  • Tyler J

    yeah, they are small, being you and her would have to flip the bill o fly everyone over, and pay for their rooms. but if you’re loaded, by all means do it that way.

  • dawn b

    well as many as you can afford to send

  • FaZizzle

    Most destination weddings depends on where you are going, how much time you give people, and when it is in the year.

    If it’s during a time when people can take time off, then you’ll get a bit more.

    If you give people at least a year, you’ll get even more.

    HOWEVER, a lot of people cannot just afford to hop on a plane to Italy.

    You can do two things if you really want this:

    1) Still have that destination wedding, knowing that you will be lucky if you get 20 guests. My cousin had hers in Italy and had 10 guests show up.

    2) You and your bride marry in Italy (or wherever) and have a reception when you get back to the states. It will cut the costs for everything.

  • Janice 10

    For a destination wedding all guest are responsible for their airline tickets and hotel arrangements. For a nice and fancy wedding you can contact the place you are planning to marry in and have them arrange things for you all you two do is show up, ready to get married.

  • SCH

    Destination weddings are usually that small because of the cost associated with them. You can invite whom ever you wish, but that person has to be willing to pay to fly where you fly and stay where you stay.

    You could have a destination wedding with a few guests and then a big reception when you get home. I have some friends who did that they went to Hawaii and just their family attended the wedding. When they got home they had a huge reception with pictures from the wedding everywhere. It was so fun.

  • Perdendosi

    Well, they can be big if your family is rich enough to all travel to some far away place for your wedding…
    I think it depends upon the desination, largely. If you’re going to Vegas or the beach in Florida, then you can expect 40-50 people to make the trek with you (plane tickets and lodging there aren’t that expensive, and you can go for an extended weekend). IF you’re going to Spain or Italy, people have to pay for transportation, lodging, and a much longer stay (because you rarely go to Europe for just a few days). So the number of people who can/will be willing to make that kind of a financial and time investment are very limited. If I were having a destination wedding, I’d expect MAYBE 10 people to come with me — my parents, her parents, My 1-2 closest friends (and significant others) and her 1-2 closest friends (and significant others) and MAYBE grandparents. That’s it. That’s the purpose of the destination wedding anyway, to keep it VERY intimate. But, hey, if your whole family can do a cruise to Aruba or a week in Basque country, why not?!?

  • Cloee Quips

    I have been to destination weddings where there are 100 people. You are paying for more activities because you have gueats for a longer period of time. They pay for airfare and hotel, but you will need to still host cocktail parties, maybe have an organized sightseeing tour, etc…. It was the most fun we have ever had at a wedding, though. You get to spend so much more time with friends and family.

  • ALF08

    we were going to do a destination wedding, but due to prices and having to fly everyone everywhere, hotels. I have also heard that destination wedding usually are under 15 people. parents, maybe sisters/brothers, and a few friends. Then when you come home have a huge reception.

  • melouofs

    We are doing a destination wedding in St Thomas this winter. We feel very lucky and surprised that about 20 are coming! We are paying airfare and hotel for our immediate families & ourselves (12 people total) and through word of mouth, we are surprised to find people are calling us to say they’re coming! We aren’t even sending invitations out until August, so maybe even more will come! We will host a reception when we return home for about 200 so we can still celebrate with those who couldn’t attend the actual wedding!

    Regardless, wherever you have it, you must be prepared for very few attending. Not very many people will realistically hop a plane to Greece for a wedding–that’s asking an awful lot of friends and family.

    There are pros and cons to each type of wedding–you just have to decide as a couple what is most important, and take it from there. For us, avoiding having a traditional church wedding and ballroom reception was number one, and this is our solution. We’re both really happy about it, and I’m thrilled there aren’t going to be tons of people there-I enjoy a small group alot more than a huge crowd!

  • giggles

    Destination weddings are very expensive for the guests. Personally I think it is unfair of a couple to invite guests to a wedding far away, unless there is some sentimental reason for a far wedding, (ex. you met over there).

    Remember, if your fiancee has nieces & nephews the parents will still have to pay full price for an airline ticket for them, plus I wouldn’t want to fly for 6+ hours with kids on my plane.

    Maybe if half of the wedding guests were from the destination location, it would be OK, but save the traveling for a great honeymoon, don’t force your family to take it with you just to be a part of your wedding.

  • sissybug

    As many as you want

  • kk

    Most destination weddings are small. My daughter is getting married in Hawaii in October, and we’re looking at probably 20 people. We’ve rented an estate with 3 homes and we’re all going for a week, with the wedding at the end of the week, so we’re going to party and have fun all week. It will be an experience that everyone will remember for a lifetime. This has got to be better than a 20 minute ceremony that everybody forgets. You can invite as many people as you want, most will not come because of the cost if it is out of the country. I think you’re being over-zealous to expect 50 guests unless your last name is Rockefeller. The estate we’ve rented has a wedding chapel and spa on site, so when everything is said and done, it’s going to be gloriously exotic and relatively inexpensive. We negotiated a group airline rate, and are paying for the wedding party to fly and for the estate rental, so everyone’s lodging is free. We’re taking our photographer and reception chef, both of who loved the idea of getting a week’s vacation in Hawaii for free in exchange for one day of work. Network and use your resources. Good luck.

  • JRay

    The concept of Destination wedding is a weird one.
    It provokes the images of a very special function in isolation and has a romantic streak attached to it.

    If you decide to have it then you shouldn’t be more than 15 in number. The number creates a myth about your wedding since it will be a very privelged few who attend it and will “wag the tounges” in the years to come.

  • SaSS

    It all depends on how many people you REALLY want to be there. Close friends and family. I’m inviting around 55 people to mine. But someone told me they went to one that had over a hundred. So it all really depends on the couple and the people in their lives. But most of the ones I heard about usually don’t have more than 50.

  • Lydia

    This totally depends upon the budget of the two of you and how much you have saved to host the wedding yourselves. Usually there are well under 20 guests, because it’s a LOT to pay for so many people to attend!

  • Whit-Whit

    Hello, I am a wedding consultant and have had many clients opt for a destination wedding rather than a traditional wedding. There are pros and cons to both … One comment that I hear most often is how much cheaper it was because most hotels, curise lines, and resorts offer special discounts because you are having your wedding and honeymoon in the same location. One of the cons is that if you arn’t in the best of financial states having friends and family have to travel may be somewhat of an inconvenience. But a destionation wedding with just you and your hubby to be may be the intimate setting that some couples want.

    It is pretty much up to you, there will be pros and cons to both a destination and traditional wedding

  • nova_queen_28

    My fiance & I thought we were planning a normal wedding.
    We met in New Jersey where all my family is from and much of his Mom’s family is from. We now live a 2-3hr drive away from them, near my fiance’s Dad’s family in Central Pennsylvania.

    Sadly 50% of our invited guests have declined attending, with most of them saying the wedding is too far away.

    My only bit of advice to you is to be aware that a destination wedding will greatly reduce your guest count.

  • Meagan

    I think that you should have a destination wedding in the Caribbean. January in the sun and surf sounds marvelous!

  • J-Luv The Bunny

    I’m having a destination wedding in Jamaica this December. I have to say I like the price tag alot better than a traditional at home wedding Due to limited funds, I can only imagine how cheesy and cheap looking my wedding would have been if I had it at home and a honeymoon would’ve been out of the question/ not at all possible. But having a destination wedding costs less but it can still be nice and simply elegant and your already at your honeymoon location. Also having a destination wedding is alot less stressful, you’re given a coordinator and that person as well as the resort/ hotel pretty much handle things for you. The only downer is some family isn’t going to be able to make it. Although we did plan on having a small number of guests in the first place. So far I like it though and everything is working out slowly but surely.

  • wifey310035

    If it is a drive from either the bride or grooms hometown then it is a destination wedding. You should pay for your important guests such as family and close friends. The ones who really count. If there are other people you are not sure about then I would let them know there will be traveling upfront and tell them the hotel everyone else will be staying at. If you call the hotel ahead of time you may get a discount if you book so many rooms at once. Destinations work better if they are smaller and more intimate,

  • BABY #2 DUE 9/27/09

    i would say it’s any place that’s not home

  • ♥The Mrs.♥

    I really don’t think so, but my cousin got married 90 minutes from home and called it a “destination” wedding.

  • Dollar Store Queen

    when i think destination…i think island or out of the country somewhere…a place that can serve a purpose other than the wedding (like a place for a wedding and a vacation in one)- bahamas, hawaii, egypt, mexico, etc. since its out of the state but not the country, i wouldnt call it a destination. My friend had a wedding in texas..and shes from missouri, i wouldnt call it a destination wedding…just an out of town wedding.
    To me destination = a place you need a passport or passport card for or a place surrounded by water.

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