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03.28.2002: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living |
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Wedding traditions...
My brother is getting married in May and was wondering about something. His future bride’s family lives out-of-town and my brother is paying for their airfare. What is the proper way of doing this? Are the bride and groom obligated to pay for out-of-town guests’ airfares?


A: Though the dictates of wedding etiquette are rife with all sorts of insane rules and regulations, paying for any/all guests to travel out for the big day is not one of them. By no means is the happy couple required to take care of the travel requirements of out-of-town guests – the usual scenario is that guests can expect to find and finance their own way to the wedding. So forget about what propriety says – it’s just very, very sweet of your brother to offer to fly out all his future wife’s family members to ensure that they’ll be able to share in the joy of the nuptials. No doubt he’ll be the darling of all the relatives, who are sure to appreciate the extraordinary generosity of the gesture.

Of course, it’s no small feat for your brother to single-handedly take care of crafting the perfect itinerary for each and every one of his future wife’s family members. And to me, there’s something a little too business-like about telling guests that they can book the tickets themselves and have him reimburse the cost. The best solution, I’d think, would be for your brother to enlist the services of a professional travel agent, whom he could then ask each guest to contact directly in order to arrange the details of the specific travel itineraries.

But let me offer an even easier solution for your brother: why not offer to pay for the family’s local accommodations during the wedding festivities and leave them to fend for themselves when it comes to travel arrangements? It would be a lot easier for him to book a block of rooms in a nice hotel – he should even be able to negotiate a nice discount – than to cope with the hassle of juggling flight itineraries. 
And he’ll still be helping to alleviate some of the financial stress for his bride’s out-of-town wedding guests, while also relieving them of the burden of trying to decide on where to stay in a town they probably know nothing about.

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