A study by David’s Bridal revealed that 55% of couples surveyed planned to have a destination wedding in 2022. This is due to a number of reasons: pent-up demand caused by the pandemic; lack of available venues where they live; and a desire to marry in a locale that reflects who the couple are as individuals, not just where they were born or currently reside.
Travel is, of course, a major component of a destination wedding, so it’s critical to give guests time to prepare. Even though the bride and groom have likely already told some guests about the wedding plans, invitations are the official announcement about the big day.
These seven tips not only make for a stylish and meaningful way to announce the event, they’ll set the stage for the logistics and flow guests should expect once they arrive.
Set the tone
Invitations for destination weddings set the tone for the entire event. They differ from traditional wedding invitations in that they are typically a bit more detailed, since there are likely multiple events such as meals, group activities or excursions that require RSVPs.
Destination wedding invitations start with the save-the-date card, where couples can begin to subtly incorporate the vibe of the destination along with their wedding colors and overall wedding theme. Follow this up with other printed pieces such as formal invitations, menus, place cards and other ancillary communications.
Play up the locale
It may seem obvious, but for a destination wedding, play up the locale. The possibilities are endless—from tropical or rustic-themed ceremonies to sleek, ultra-formal events in metropolitan cities, couples can have fun with their invitations by incorporating notable elements of the destination.
Alpine Creative Group—a Manhattan stationer specializing in custom print, engraving, letterpress and thermograph for private celebrations, prominent galas and large-scale corporate functions—works with guests to put together just the right mix of celebratory and informative invitations for destination weddings.
“I meet with clients, listen and see where their eyes go,” said Mona Seltzer, an invitation designer. For a wedding in Mexico, for instance, she put together a box which was itself a piece of Mexican art. Inside was a map from the U.S. to Mexico, which served as the save-the-date card, a miniature sombrero and serape (brightly-colored shawl with fringed ends), and a booklet labeled “Información,” which contained phone numbers, hotel information and a reply card with the options “Si,” “No,” or “Have to stay in the USA.” The invite which followed featured thick paper with a digitally-cut monstera leaf pattern that folded over the invite, which featured hand calligraphy.
Tell a story with your invites
The classic, formal invitation will never go out of style, but destination weddings leave plenty of room for playful, outside-the-box options. It’s possible to shop by style (such as minimalist, rustic, bohemian, modern or illustrative) or even use your own photos or the work of an independent artist as an invitation.
For a wedding in Italy, for instance, one might consider a watercolor of an Italian street scene or an illustration of the castle or winery serving as the event venue.
Focus on color
Color can evoke a mood. Earth and neutral tones are great for rustic or beach weddings, while deeper tones are reminiscent of falling leaves and autumn vibes. A sophisticated city wedding might feature bold colors such as black, silver and gold.
Experiment with materials
There was a time when wedding invitations were almost always paper. Today Seltzer and her team work with a variety of materials including fabric, leather, metal, acrylic, rhinestones, mirrors and more.
“We’ve done almost anything you can think of,” she explained. “Among the most unique were a wooden invitation that looked like a miniature basketball court, a book with a bookmark as the save-the-date card, and disco balls. The most over the top was probably a huge box with a large plated crest we made for an Arabian princess.”
Add some extras
In addition to the wedding invitations, it’s nice to add a few extras. Vellum, ribbon, wax seals, pressed flowers or customized souvenirs make opening the invitations exciting and fun. A complete invitation suite might include multiple inserts for different events. Be sure to finish the look with fully addressed envelopes.
Don't forget the postage
Now that you've designed the destination wedding invitation suite and addressed them accordingly, it’s critical to follow through to the very last detail: stamps. The wrong stamp can distract from your theme and all the thought that’s gone into this, since it is among the first things guests will see when they receive the invitation.
The United States Postal Service has categories of stamps for almost everything. One couple, for example, chose stamps with images of past presidents for a Washington, D.C. wedding. Keep in mind that RSVP stamps for international guests must be from their country. It might be easier to empower guests to RSVP via a website or QR code.
“Save-the-date cards should be sent out a minimum of six months in advance, and more lead time is always better than less, especially with ongoing supply shortages,” Seltzer said. “Send the official invitations two to three months before the event.”
A destination wedding might require a bit more planning and time than an event closer to home, but the rewards are endless. It allows guests to relax, meet the families, and spend quality time with loved ones.
“It's like everyone is on vacation,” Seltzer said. “People became friends because they have time to really get to know each other. That’s what it’s all about.”