The details and etiquette surrounding sending save the dates and invitations for an international destination wedding are different than an at-home or US destination wedding. Since most guests for an international destination wedding must plan their travel and book their room further in advance, the expectation for sending information to guests is a bit different. The traditional wisdom says that you should send invitations for a destination wedding 2 – 3 months in advance but that is simply unrealistic when you consider that your guests will need to request vacation time from their work, potentially make childcare arrangements, make a room deposit, purchase airfare, and more, within a short window of time. Add to the fact that you may have room block contract terms that need to be met far in advance (like reducing your room block size 6 months or more before your wedding) and you can see why a longer lead time for invitations is important.
A good rule of thumb is to send wedding invitations for an international destination wedding between 9 and 12 months in advance of the wedding. You can send these digitally or physically.
If you’re working with a destination wedding travel planner (like us) you really don’t need to mail a physical invitation, depending on the process that your planner follows. Here is the process for most of our couples:
- Choose a resort and finalize a wedding date.
- Send a physical (or digital, if you’re more environmentally conscious) Save the Date, informing wedding guests of the location, the wedding date, and that more information will follow soon. You may even include a link to your room block details on this Save the Date, if you already have this.
- 8 to 13 months in advance of the wedding – guests receive an email with all the information they need to know about booking a room at the wedding resort. Guests are also given a link to the wedding website, which gives them all the details about the resort, at this time.
With this process, a physical invitation is rarely sent, as the initial guest email, with booking details, serves as the official invitation. However, some of our couples are a bit more traditional and will still send a physical invitation in the mail. It is really up to the preference of the couple.
Yes, you can send your invitations as soon as you’d like but don’t expect all of your guests to book a room in your room block, or their flights, more than 9 – 12 months in advance. Even if you have a wedding room block and are ready to go well ahead of time, most guests will not book their room/vacation until 12 months or less before your big day. They need time to request vacation time and prepare for the deposit and payments needed to book their room and flights.
No matter when you begin planning your destination wedding – 3 months in advance, 6 months in advance, or even 15 months in advance – the most important thing you can do is notify your guests, in some format (email, digital or physical invitation, or even a phone call) as soon as you have a confirmed venue and a confirmed and contracted wedding date. Allowing guests as much time as possible to make travel arrangements allows more of your family and friends to be with you on your wedding day.