One in five American couples now tie the knot far from home in a destination wedding, according to TheKnot.com & WeddingChannel.com 2009 Destination Weddings Study. With the economy still lousy, destination weddings make sense for couples who want to get a little more travel bang for their wedding planning buck, but it also can place an unwanted financial burden on invited guests.
Some fast facts from the 2009 Destinations Wedding Study, which surveyed 2,200 couples who had destination weddings from September 2008 to August 2009:
- 1,400 miles: distance the average destination wedding couple travels from home
- 77: the average number of destination wedding guests (about half as many as non-destination weddings)
- 58% of American destination weddings take place in the continental US, with Florida, California and Nevada the most popular locations
- Nearly 20% of destination weddings for U.S. couples are in the Caribbean
- The next most popular locations outside the continental U.S. are Mexico/Baja and Hawaii
Stats on Caribbean destination weddings:
- 30: average age of Caribbean destination wedding couples
- 40% of couples visit the venue and/or destination before their wedding
- 36: average number of guests at Caribbean destination weddings
- 35% last more than 3 days
- 28% of couples pick up at least some of the tab for guests
Seeking advice for destination wedding couples and their guests, CNN turned to Pennsylvania wedding planner Nancy Barkley and TheKnot.com executive editor Rebecca Dolgin:
How can couples avoid unnecessary friction?
Barkley: Make a list of absolutely-must-be-there guests, like parents and best friends, and check with them whether they will be able to come before starting to make any plans in faraway places.
Do guests still need to bring a gift?
Dolgin: “It’s expected that if you’re going somewhere, the gift would be a little bit smaller. In some cases, it’s completely forgiven if there’s not a gift. Your gift is to be in attendance at the wedding.” (Suggested price range: $35-$65, similar to a shower gift.)
Will the couple pay any hotel or airfare expenses?
Barkley: Guests pay for themselves 90% of the time.
Dolgin: The bride and groom offering to pay for someone to attend would be a wonderful gesture, but it’s not expected.
How should you tell a couple if you can’t attend?
Dolgin: “If you can’t spend the money or you can’t get the time off, it’s important to communicate that [in the RSVP] because that’s understandable.”
[Image: Annie’s Escapes]