Are Destination Weddings “Selfish”?

From the mailbag!

We were asked what we thought about destination weddings and if they are selfish.

After all, it’s your big day, right? Weddings are all about making a single day of our lives exactly the way we’d picture it and completely magical. Everything has to be perfect down to the locale…but when you told your mother about it, did she say something like, “Well, that’s very selfish of you…”?

Maybe we pictured saying our vows at a castle in Scotland or a Caribbean beach. We want the wedding pictures of us all in white looking tanned and happy with our bare feet in white sand.

So is it selfish to ask your friends and family, to take one single day out of their lives to commit to making our dreams come true?

Absolutely.

But hold on. Let’s talk a little more about it. Sometimes being selfish is warranted. Maybe the word has a bad connotation for you, but sometimes being selfish is a necessary evil when it comes to living your own life. Sometimes there are times when thinking of yourself needs to take priority. Your wedding day is one of those times.

However, there are some things you need to realize about the touchy subject of destination weddings.

people sitting beside table
Photo by Lee Hnetinka on Pexels.com

Not everyone can afford to go.

The biggest piece of advice we can give is to never make a cash-strapped friend pay to participate in your wedding. As much as they love you, being put in this situation will almost always cause resentment. If you’ve already made her buy a $200 bridesmaid dress and now want her to pay $1500 for airfare and another $1800 in hotel costs…Even the best friend in the world is going to be angry with you. I’ve had a bride tell me asking friends to pay all this is fair because she and her family are paying for the facilities, the DJ, the photographer, etc.

Yes – A bride will pay thousands of dollars for the best day of her life. You can’t ask a mere bridesmaid to share that kind of enthusiasm. The worst thing you can do is to insinuate your friendship should mean more than money. While she may be thrilled to be there and support you because she loves you so much, the value of the experience in monetary terms does not add up.

Wedding Couple experience:  Marry the person of your dreams, wear a beautiful gown/handsome suit, look better than you’ve ever looked in your life, create memories you will be telling your grandchildren about, have beautiful photos and videos commemorating the experience, in the place you always dreamed it would all happen?

Cost:  Completely priceless

Wedding Party Experience:  Fork out money for an ugly dress/rental tux you will never wear again and have no idea what to do with when the wedding is over. Use up all your hard-earned vacation time in which you planned to go visit relatives out of state, spend exorbitant amounts of money to play a bit part in someone else’s dream, create memories that will never rank up there as the best time of your life, be photographed wearing the same ugly outfit everyone else is in photos you will never really want, going to some hot, sticky almost third world country the bride insists is sooo romantic and smack at mosquitos through an uncomfortably long ceremony after several days of helping the stressed-out couple solve last-minute wedding catastrophes. While you love your friend…Oh my God.

Cost: Waaaaaay more than they get back out of it

women wears white and yellow tube strapless dresses holding white red and yellow bouquet
Photo by Blake Newman on Pexels.com

Not everyone can escape responsibilities like work, children, etc. to go.

Maybe your job is generously offering you three weeks paid vacation in which to have your wedding of the century, but not everyone is as lucky. Their bosses aren’t as understanding. They’ve been saving a whole year and were finally getting to plan the vacation they have been needing for so long.

Then, they get your invitation…

They would have to cancel their dream vacation to go to your dream vacation destination. If they have personal boundaries, they may just reject the invite outright, but if they are an overly nice type that doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, they may just say yes, cancel their own plans and seethe in resentment against you secretly.

Your friends and family with children are going to be completely shut out. Getting a sitter for multiple days is another expense on top of everything else.

adult adventure baby child
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Not everyone will want to go.

Uncle Bob just hates weddings. Way too fancy, long and boring. He is eager to get back to his recliner in his comfy living room and watch TV. Sure. He will suck it up and go to local weddings because he can get it over with, go back to life, and dodge out of the reception after dinner. But asking him to go to Jamaica? Ha!

It’s not just him! Your best friend may not have any desire to go to Jamaica either. Your dream destination isn’t necessarily hers and while she loves you, she really doesn’t want to go.  Not everyone likes weddings. Even your wedding.

If your dream wedding includes a full panel of bridesmaids and groomsmen, you’d better keep it local. You’ve got to consider what makes it a dream wedding to you. Is it all your friends and family celebrating with you or is it just you and your new spouse lost in each other? You can still have the latter on the honeymoon, but you can’t recapture the former.

pink and white roses centerpiece on top of table
Photo by Tae Fuller on Pexels.com

If you don’t approach the situation carefully, you could permanently alienate friends & family.

I knew a friend once who told me she really wanted me to go on their wedding cruise with them. She planned on doing a Caribbean cruise and the wedding would take place on the boat on New Year’s.

“But I have plans on New Year’s…” I sighed, “I’ve been planning it for a long time…”

Not to mention I couldn’t afford it and couldn’t get off work. Her reaction surprised me.

“Fine!” She stopped talking to me. I later found out so many people had said they wouldn’t go, she canceled the wedding in tears and cursed out everyone telling them what bad friends they all were and how selfish they were for not accommodating her big day. Multiple people saw her true colors and she lost a lot of friends.

selective focus photography of bride holding right shoulder
Photo by Elina Sazonova on Pexels.com

“But I still want to have a destination wedding…”

That’s fine.
After all, it is your day.
What we hope you will learn is to separate the reactions of your friends and family from the truth. The truth is probably that you had the best of intentions. In your eyes, you can see how great and how much fun it would be if everyone would just play along and fulfill your dream of a resort weekend of family bonding culminating in a wedding like in the movies, but we are dealing with human beings with free will here. It’s not always that easy.

So how do you mitigate the damages to your relationships?

Start off with your approach. If there are friends you want, must have, need to be there, call them first. Go out for coffee. Ask them honestly if it would be a huge inconvenience. Ask them if it would bother them. If it’s crucial they be there, tell them it’s more important that they are there and happy with you than it is to be getting married alone on a beach. Note their reactions. If they are gushing, excited and saying, “Oh wow!! Yes! Let’s make this happen!” then you have a blessing.

If your friend seems to hesitate, wonders about money, etc. or even seems a little upset – Do not be angry with them. They are upset because they want to be a part of your day but reality might not allow it. You would feel like you were missing out if you were the only one who couldn’t afford to be there for a friend’s destination wedding, too.

four women standing on mountain
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

What about invitations?

Be careful. How you word them is everything. Sending out standard invitations may not be the best thing to do. Some may RSVP that they will attend not realizing that your wedding is literally in Bermuda. Others may feel anxious thinking everyone else is going and taking this awesome trip, but they know they can’t do it. Some may even roll their eyes at you and form opinions about how entitled you are. Let’s face it, destination wedding brides can get a bad rap.

Make sure to stress you don’t expect them to come, but that it would be great if they could.

“It has always been our dream to get married on the beaches of Hawaii. Next summer, on June 23rd, 2020, we are making that dream a reality. While we would love it if everyone could be there to celebrate with us on our special day, we realize the costs of travel and other inconveniences may not make this possible and we completely understand.

However, we do want to extend the invitation to our friends & family to make the trip to see us become Mr. & Mrs. Smith in Oahu, Hawaii. We have contacted the Beachside Hotel at 123, W Beachside Paradise Dr. and were able to get a group rate of $300 per night for a block of rooms if we book by October 1st. 

Please call 1-800-555-5555 to book your room if you want to attend. The wedding will be beachside, followed by a reception in the hotel’s ballroom or a smaller convention room depending on the number of guests. Again, we really would love it if you can make the trip. You all mean the world to us and we’d love to have you there.”

women s brown and green floral dress
Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on Pexels.com

“I’ve tried being nice about it, but people are still being hateful!”

You’ve got several types of people who may be upset about this. The first are likely the ones who care. The only reason anyone is upset with you is because they would totally come to you wedding. They would love to see you tie the knot, but by moving the wedding outside the bounds of reasonable affordability, you’ve excluded them and they are likely hurt. Please understand the option you’ve chosen is one that is going to step on a lot of toes. Everyone has different ideas about expectations for weddings — Which is why nobody can ever get married the “right” way for everyone else’s standards.

The second type are those who you’ve probably had issues with about…well, everything. If they are a difficult person in your life, anyway, expect them to use this incident to make you seem like Satan. Include the difficult mothers in this group who will never be happy with any decision you make anyway. And you know what? Ignore them.

So, are you putting the idea of a destination wedding above your friends and family? Absolutely. Even though it seems cold, don’t be afraid to acknowledge this. This is a rare exception towards when it’s okay for you to be selfish. It’s about the two of you and the moment you say your vows and the memories you create. You will not be bringing everyone with you on the anniversary trip to visit the place where you said your vows. So say them someplace meaningful to you if that’s what will make you happy.

What is NOT okay is expecting to control how others feel about your destination wedding, demanding your friends be there and insisting they are “bad friends” if they can’t, making them pay to be there unwillingly, or feeling they should be grateful to you for such an awesome forced vacation. You can’t control others’ reactions. You can only check yourself to make sure you are being reasonable.

Want a wedding it would be really hard to be mad at you for? Pay everyone’s airfare, hotel accommodations and give them a per diem for meals! If you can’t do this, then be ready for the criticism because it will come.

Eloping is always a peaceful and much less expensive option if you don’t need all the attention and the criticism that comes with it. While it’s your day, if you plan on sharing it with others, be kind, loving, and gentle keeping in mind that a wedding is one day. Relationships with friends and family are for a lifetime.

man and woman standing on brown rock under blue sky
Photo by Tizino Academy on Pexels.com
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