GUEST CODE: Thanks to our multicultural society, you may find yourself at a wedding this summer that celebrates in ways you aren't familiar with — and we're here to help. Each week, the HuffPost Canada Living team will take a look at a different culture's wedding and tell you about the customs, traditions and rules that go along with celebrating your friends' big days.
Flip-flops? Check. Towel? Check. Wedding outfit? Check. If you have the opportunity to attend a destination wedding this year, feel free to treat it like a vacation: a time to relax, eat fresh food and enjoy quality time with your family and friends.
Couples tend to choose destination wedding locations (Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico seem to be the most popular choices), based on natural beauty, an excuse to escape the winter blues, but often out of practicality.
"A lot of Canadian families are spread out throughout the country so couples figure it’s not going to cost that much more to meet in the Caribbean since many of them would already have to fly to and get a hotel in the local city that the bride and groom live in," says wedding planner Jennifer Borgh of Jennifer Borgh Events.
Borgh says couples tend to spend around $10,000 to $20,000 on their wedding depending on their personal style and location, but overall they end up saving money because of a smaller guest list. Guests typically can pay up to $1,600 to attend the wedding, and the price can vary depending on the departure city.
As for logistics, the wedding is often as easy to access as the resort. Unless the couple has planned a private event off the resort, guests are likely to pass by the venue (or beach) several times during their stay. After the wedding ceremony (depending on the couples' religious or cultural backgrounds), guests can expect a reception, dinner and dance party.
And for couples, there are some etiquette tips to remember as well: Ask guests about any dietary restrictions as you plan the event, make sure the guest code is on the invitation, don't fill up the whole week with wedding-related events and don't be offended if guests say no. Destination weddings are not always cheap, and for a lot of people, it can be out of their budget, Borgh says.
Here are 12 things every guest should know before attending a destination wedding:
How Much Will It Cost?
For guests, a destination wedding can cost anywhere from $1,600 to $2,500 depending on the destination and departure city, This cost covers flights, resort fees, accommodations and food and drinks.
Should I Bring A Gift?
If you're attending a destination wedding, you don't have to bring a wedding gift. "Some couples tell the guests that their presence is gift enough but a card is still a nice touch in these cases," says wedding planner Jennifer Borgh of <a href="http://www.jenniferborghevents.com/#!/HOME" target="_blank">Jennifer Borgh Events</a>. If you still want to give the couple a monetary or boxed gift , give it to them before the wedding or after you come back.
What Should I Wear?
Check the invitation first: Couples should be informing guests what to wear. "Some destination weddings are very casual and some are very formal," Borgh says. If you're unsure, ask. Sometimes, couples have strict one-colour dress codes, so the last thing you want to do is arrive at the hotel with the wrong outfit.
Where Will The Wedding Be Held?
Most destination weddings are held right at the resort, either on the beach or in a secluded area for private events. But sometimes, be prepared to leave the resort. Borgh says more and more couples are leaving the resort to completely different venues.
How Many People Will Attend?
Destination weddings and reception ceremonies tend to have a small guest lists. Typically, about 40 to 50 people attend, however, Borgh says she has seen larger ones as well.
How Should I Book The Flight?
Make sure you book your flight on time. The bride and groom will send out payment deadlines and sometimes ask for deposits. When you are booking a flight, speak to the travel agent associated with the wedding. We all love good flight deals, but you want to avoid last-minute problems. "Unfortunately, for destination weddings, last-minute guests just add last-minute work for the couple trying to get extra décor, extra seats and extra dinners. Some issues that can arise with last-minute guests are: added work for the couple, and hotels and flights being sold out."
Should The Bride And Groom Pay For Things?
For the most part, yes. Guests can expect some portions of their trip, excursions or little gestures like welcome baskets or customized gifts provided to them by the couple. "Couples should absolutely host one private wedding event. I am completely against having your guests eat at the regular buffet for your wedding night. Guests spent a lot of money to come to your wedding and regardless of your budget, they should be treated to a special meal and event," Borgh says.
Don't Complain About The Weather
Destination weddings are typically held in hot locations — don't complain about the heat. "Even if the destination they chose would not have been your first choice, there is no need to mention it to the couple or any of the other guests."
Don't Bother The Bride And Groom About Travel Problems
One key etiquette tip for guests at destination weddings is to avoid involving the bride and groom over every tiny travel problem. "If your name was spelled wrong on the e-ticket, then call the travel agent. There is no need to add extra stress to the couple unless absolutely necessary," she says. You can also ask the wedding planner or maid of honour if you have any additional travel issues.
Have Your Files In Order
Just like any trip, keep all of your important travel documents together. Some destinations, like Jamaica for example, require your passport to be valid for six months after your date of departure.
Be Mindful Of Other Guests
Just because you travel a lot, it doesn't mean other guests do the same. Borgh says sometimes, destination weddings are some people's first vacation, which may make them a little overexcited or overwhelmed during the wedding. And because this is a vacation for guests as well, make sure you plan your own personal time after the wedding is complete.
Tips For The Couple
If you're getting married and you've decided to commit to a destination wedding, make sure you start planning and booking your trip at least a year in advance. Not only does this give enough time for your guests to save money and plan for the wedding, you also have a good shot at booking cheaper flights and hotels, and having all of your guests stay in the same few floors at the resort.
NEXT: 8 Things You Should Know About Muslim Weddings
Muslim weddings can be held at mosques, a place of worship for Islam followers. However, many couples also decide to hold the wedding and reception at banquet halls for space and cost.
Words You'll Hear: Nikkah
The <em>nikkah/nikah</em> is arguably the most important ritual during a Muslim wedding. Here, the bride and groom sign a legal contract that symbolizes an Islamic marriage. "The nikkah is a very intimate ceremony and is very short in nature," says Devya R. Pillai, wedding coordinator of Breathtaking Moments: Wedding And Events in Toronto. Sometimes, the couples may choose to do the nikkah in front of a larger audience as well. During this time, the priest or <em>Imam</em> will also recite scriptures from the Qur'an explaining the importance of marriage and the couple's new roles as husband and wife. Couples may also decide to exchange rings at this point, or save it for the reception.
Words You'll Hear: Walima
The <em>walima</em> refers to second portion of an Islamic wedding or the reception. During the walima, you may see performances, speeches and a gathering of family and friends for a feast.
What Should I Wear?
Almost all guests wear traditional clothing, Pillai says. If you can't get your hands on an outfit, wear something modest and long sleeved, if possible, especially at the mosque. When in doubt, speak to a family member.
How Many People Attend?
Muslim weddings can be either small or large, depending on the family. Sometimes, the <em>nikkah </em> is attended by close family members, while receptions or dinners can have more than 100 guests.
Colours You'll See
Muslim weddings can be quite colourful with tones of reds, greens and whites, depending on the bride's choice and cultural background. At some South Asians Muslim weddings and receptions, for example, you'll see the bride wear red or blue tones, and at some Arab Muslim weddings, for example, you may see a bride in a white bridal outfit.
What Should I Bring For The Couple?
Monetary gifts are generally popular and at some weddings, monetary amounts (depending on how well you know the couple) should end in a $1. This is supposed to signify auspiciousness for the couple's big day. The one thing you don't want to bring is a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-holmes/cultural-wedding-gifts_b_2688362.html" target="_blank">bottle of wine — or any type of alcohol, for that matter.</a>
Expect A LOT Of Food
During dinner (or lunch, depending on the event you attend), you'll have a wide range of meats and vegetarian dishes to choose from. Because cultures vary from Arab countries to South Asian countries, there really is no standard wedding meal. However, one thing these weddings do have in common is the meat served will be halal and pork is prohibited.
Where Are They Held?
Tamil Hindu weddings are usually held at temples, banquet halls or sometimes, outdoors. Guests attending should expect assigned seating, keeping in mind family (which can be large in number) sit in the front. The guest list on average has over 250 people. Grooms <em>(maapillai)</em> and brides <em>(manamahal)</em> sit around a priest on a stage called a <em>manavarai</em> or <em>mandap. </em>
How Much Time Should I Make In My Schedule?
Typically, a Tamil wedding ritual lasts about an hour and 15 minutes. Wedding ceremonies are followed by lunch or dinner, depending on the time of the wedding.
What Should I Wear?
At Tamil weddings, most women (including their non-Tamil guests) wear traditional sarees, and sometimes have their hair tied in a bun or braided with flowers. Men from the immediate family wear white <em>dhotis</em> (traditional men's garment) and a white shirt with a golden border. Other male guests are required to wear formal wear. For both men and women, gold is very common. If you are attending a Tamil wedding, try avoid wearing black, it is seen as bad luck.
What Should I Bring As A Gift
Most couples prefer monetary gifts — this can range anywhere from $100 to $200 per guest.
What Will I Be Eating?
Most Tamil weddings (held at Hindu temples, for example) serve vegetarian dishes. These meals include everything from rice and curries, vegetarians patties, vegetarian rolls, eggless cake and Tamil sweets made with rice or buttermilk. During the wedding ceremony, drinking is prohibited. If the couple decides to hold a reception, you will find most likely find meaty dishes and booze there.
What Is The Bridal Party Like?
Bridal parties aren't traditionally used at Tamil weddings, but if couples choose to do so, young girls are often the flower girls, and some brides have their closest friends dressed in similar sarees as bridesmaids.
Do Couples Exchange Rings?
Some Tamil couples opt to have their marriage registered on the same day of their Tamil wedding — just because of schedule or timing. Often couples will exchange wedding rings after the wedding ceremony ends. But a custom at all Tamil weddings is the <em>thali/mangalsutre</em> — a gold chain that is tied by the groom around the bride’s neck during the ceremony.
You Will Probably Hear This
When the <em>thali</em> is tied around the bride's neck, you will probably hear this traditional wedding song called the <em>kettimelam. </em>
What Do The Bride And Groom Wear?
The bride and groom both wear traditional Tamil clothing. The bride usually wears a kanchipuram saree (often in a red tone, made of silk with thick golden borders) adorned with heavy gold jewelry. The bride usually has her hair braided with extensions and pieces of gold jewelry, The groom either wears a white <em>dhoti</em>, a shirt with a golden border or a <em>sherwarni</em> which is a traditional Indian pant suit. Grooms also wear turbans or <em>thalappas</em> on the day of their weddings. During the wedding — right before the bride ties the knot — it is customary for her to to change into a second saree. This second saree is called the <em>koorai</em> and the first saree (which she enters the venue with) is called a <em>manavarai saree. </em>
But Are All Tamil Weddings Hindu?
Most Tamil weddings you attend will be performed with Hindu rituals, but there are also Christian Tamil weddings that follow Christian rituals (like the white wedding dress).
Tamil Weddings Are Important For The Whole Family
Families play a huge role at Tamil weddings. Sometimes they are even responsible for arranging the bride and groom together. During the wedding ceremony, the parents of the bride and groom also exchange vows to symbolize the union of two families.
Where Are They Held?
For the most part, Jewish weddings are held at synagogues (the Jewish house of worship), hotels and event venues, says wedding planner Naomi Serkin of Naomi Serkin and Associates in Toronto.
When Do They Happen?
Depending on how religious the bride and groom are, most weddings tend to be on Thursdays or Sundays. This is due to restrictions placed on things like photography, cooking and travelling on <em>Shabbat</em> (the day or rest of worship), which runs from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.
How Long Are They?
Like most weddings, Jewish weddings follow the standard ceremony followed by a reception. If you're attending both events (look for details in your invitation), the day altogether can last between five and seven hours.
What Do I Wear?
The dress code usually comes down to how religious the couple is. If the bride and groom (and their families) tend to be more religious, avoid showing shoulders or wearing anything short and revealing. Something formal should be fine otherwise. In general, avoid wearing white — the bride deserves all the attention. Men are expected to wear kippahs, which are usually provided by the couple at the door.
What Is That Canopy?
At a Jewish wedding, you will see the couple get married under a canopy called a <em>chuppah</em> (or <em>huppah</em>), symbolizing the home the couple will build together. Usually made with cloth or a sheet with four poles, the four openings represent how open the couple is to family and friends. Some couples use an ancestor's prayer shawl for their canopy, while others ask friends to help create it, like a quilt.
What Should I Bring?
If you're thinking about gifts, think monetary. Depending how well you know the couple, expect to give around $150 to $250. Alternatively, inquire to see if there's a registry.
Eat Eat Eat
Jewish weddings also include a large meal portion of traditional Jewish foods along with meat dishes, desserts and booze. Some weddings will only serve <a href="http://www.jewishweddingtraditions.org/" target="_blank">Kosher foods, and therefore meats and dairy may not be served at the same meal.</a> Before the meal portion begins, an older relative will start with a prayer over a large challah bread. This prayer can also be done by the bride and groom.
How Many People Attend?
Serkin says guest lists depend on the couple, but on average she says she will see about 200 to 350 guests per wedding.
Dance The Night Away
When it's time to dance, get ready to move your feet. Along with a band or DJ and dance floor, you will also see the traditional <em>hora</em>, or circle dance, performed where the bride and groom are lifted on chairs.
Some Key Buzzwords
You may hear a few words at the ceremony and reception. <em>Simcha</em> means celebration and <em>mazel tov</em> means good luck. Try it out yourself!
You may see a few things at the ceremony, again, depending on how religious the couple is. In some ceremonies, the bride begins by walking around the groom seven times. Often, the rabbi and cantor will bless the couple over a cup of wine (which they share) and at the end of the ceremony, the couple kiss and the groom steps on a glass (usually wrapped in a napkin). Here is where you can say <em>mazel tov</em>!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/07/catholic-wedding_n_5280917.html" target="_blank">NEXT: 12 things that happen at Jewish weddings </a>
There are several superstitions and traditions Catholic people follow during weddings. For example, you've probably heard the phrase: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence (a coin) in your shoe. This refers to the five things the bride must incorporate to her outfit on her big day. All of these actions represent good luck.
While some couples and churches don't allow this at ceremonies, Catholic people believe throwing rice after the couple ties the knot represented prosperity. (It's often done outside the church.)
Two days before the big day, some couples hang a rosary outside their windows to ensure good weather.
Jumping The Broom
A custom traditionally done by African Americans during slavery, jumping the broom symbolizes the unification of two families into one.
At a Catholic wedding, you will also see bridesmaids, often dressed in similar colours. Bridesmaids (looking identical) were used to confuse evil spirits that may descend on the bride.
Related on HuffPost: