Frequently, when a bride and groom decide to get married in the city in which they currently live, they don't give any thought to the cost of travel and accommodations for their guests.
I point out that these are "hometown" wedding couples because I do think that, most of the time, destination wedding brides and grooms research what exactly their wedding trip will cost their guests before they make a final decision about where to get married. This is not the case with couples who aren't traveling themselves.
While the bride and groom have no financial obligation to help facilitate their guests' trips to attend their wedding, it's not a bad idea for them to have a clue as to what attending the wedding is actually costing their friends and loved ones. That way, if a good friend cites the cost as the reason they're unable to come, the bride and groom have some real perspective. Remember, every guest who travels to your hometown for your wedding will have to pay for the following:
Depending on when you're getting married and where the wedding is, prices vary drastically. In some places, your guests' only option is to pay more to fly into a smaller regional airport or rent a car and drive four hours to get to where you're getting married. If you're taking advantage of a long holiday weekend for your wedding, airfare jumps because of the holiday—everybody likes to travel on a three-day weekend.
Unless you're getting married close enough to a major airport that your guests can catch a free shuttle to their hotel, they've got to budget for either taxis or a rental car. If they're renting a car, they'll need to budget in parking as well. Some hotels charge upwards of $20 a night to park a car when you're staying there, and it's much more in the biggest cities. A taxi from the airport into the city in Chicago or New York can cost $100 one way, with tip, if they're unfortunate enough to arrive during rush hour.
Hopefully, you've given your guests a variety of different price-point hotel options so that they don't feel obligated to spend more than a car payment to attend your wedding for a weekend. Etiquette says that all out-of-town guests should be included in the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, so most of them will be spending at least two nights in a hotel for your wedding events.
You've invited them to your wedding (and hopefully, your rehearsal dinner too, if you've followed the wediquette), but you're not feeding them three meals a day during their trip. Since most hotel rooms won't have kitchen facilities, your guests have to plan on eating all their meals out, except for dinners. If they're flying to your wedding, it's unlikely they've packed snack supplies, so they're buying every bottle of water and granola bar they consume during the entire trip, which can really add up!
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.