Monday, February 25, 2013

The Destination Wedding

Welcome to Wedding Week!! This is the week where I will completely nerd out with wedding details.

I never really disclosed a lot of information on here about the wedding except the date and the Fiance. Honestly, there was no real reason behind this. We had a short engagement (less than a year) due to my priority of moving to England. We didn't have time for "save the dates", I didn't have (or want!) a bridal shower, the people in our wedding party was a grand total of 2, and a lot of our planning was basically done on the fly!

Speaking of "on the fly" (completely natural transition here, just go with it), loads of my family had to fly from America to England for the wedding! 

So Day 1 of Wedding Week is all about the destination wedding.

My family in the USA is pretty concentrated in New York and New Jersey. My mom was really the only one to move away to Florida. So when family weddings happened, we were always the only "out of towners".

I never considered those destination weddings. They lived there. I didn't. It was as simple as that.

So I didn't think of my own wedding as a destination wedding. I live here, in England. They don't. It was the same thing, right?

Well, I'm going to say wrong, actually.

About a quarter of our ceremony guests were flying in from America. That's a lot of people to be traveling out of their way to another continent for the wedding. 

Although Alex and I didn't pick an exotic island or a mountain top to get married on, it still was about as much work and planning as those destination weddings. 

It was a lot of planning that was out of our control, as well. My procrastinator parents had to get their first ever passports (not joking... they never left the country until this month...) expedited. Some others had to renew their passports to make sure it was valid. Others booked their own hotels in different cities or had their own agendas for their time in England. And all of that was fine.

But also, it was our responsibility to keep track of these people. Who was flying in what day? Where they were staying and for how long? When could I see them?

That added to the wedding stress, not going to lie.

Do I regret any of it? Absolutely not.

But would I do anything (regarding the destination wedding aspect) differently? A million times yes.

Here are my pros and cons for having a destination wedding.

Pro - New locations are exciting!

Even if it's not a new location for you, it's just as exciting seeing the looks on your family's faces when they're sightseeing or talking a walk around town. And I felt like a professional tour guide knowing where I was going better than they did (which is pretty sad because I'm kind of clueless).

Yay, exciting rocks!

Con - Obligatory sight seeing.... 

New locations also mean obligatory sight seeing. Sure, they are there for your wedding, but they're also in a new, exciting country and want to make the most of their trip. I was able to do a lot during the week of my wedding in terms of traveling and sight seeing (which you will hear about this week). I could handle the long days, constant walking, and unexpected traveling, but it is definitely not for everyone. If you have a lot on your plate, don't do it. Make your friends and family go by themselves or do a group tour.

Pro - Vacations for your family feel like vacations for you, too!

Even though I was home here in England, my family's vacation mentality rubbed off on me. It was almost like nothing else mattered. We had a blast even if we were all just sitting in a room doing nothing. And my family is Italian; imagine "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" but with pasta. We were constantly eating, reminiscing, and having a great time.

Me and my family appearing to be causing mayhem

Con - It's easy for friends/family to commit to the idea, but not actually commit in real life.

Probably the biggest issue for several reasons.....

First of all, a lot of them ignored the RSVP date. To be honest, it doesn't sound like the worst thing in the world, but it makes things more complicated and stressful (especially when more and more guests do it). I think family try to bend the "rules" because they can; they're your family, you have to love them and deal with them.

It's easy for them to say "yes, I'm definitely coming". What's not easy is all the work after that on their part. If they let you know in advance that they can no longer make it, that's fine; there's nothing you can do about it. But don't be surprised if the week of the wedding, someone says "I'm not coming" after their spot at the wedding has already been paid for (true story... it happened to me).

Other family members, just didn't respond at all. No RSVP, no phone call, no letter, nothing. I would have settled with a Facebook message if they didn't want to spend the money on an international stamp.

Be strict. There is a difference between giving your traveling friends and family leeway and letting them walk all over you.

My advice for destination weddings or guests traveling far: Be very clear about time constraints. If you have to put it on the invite/RSVP, do it. I know I know, it may sound like a crappy thing to do, but it will be worth it. Kindly harass whoever you have to so you don't get a phone call the Sunday before the wedding with people still dropping out. (can you tell I'm angsty about that?) If travel arrangements haven't been made by a certain date, don't pay for their spot.

Obviously, only you can be the judge of that. You know your family better than I do. Maybe they're waiting for their next pay check or a better price on airfare. But also keep in mind that a few of my family members surprised me by their actions. I thought I knew them well, too. I was clearly wrong!

Con - Lot's of friends/family won't be able to come

Think about how you'd feel if certain people couldn't make it solely on the fact that it was a destination wedding. If you can't come to terms with that, then a destination wedding is not for you. I'm not saying this to be negative; I'm saying it because it's true. I went into this fulling knowing that I wouldn't have many people there from my side. None of my American friends made it to England for the wedding and only a handful of my family came. Of course I was upset, but I was prepared for it. Obviously they knew that the gesture was there; they were more than welcome to come to England and to our wedding. But I mentally prepared myself that I'd get a lot of straight up rejection.

Pro - The destination makes you happy

Hopefully you picked this destination for your wedding because it means something to you and makes you happy. It kind of makes it more like the wedding of your dreams if it's somewhere meaningful, exotic, or new. 

England was the right choice for me; it is my new home. There really wasn't another option.     

Happy! Actually I was just crying through the whole ceremony... Happy Tears!
Con - Some people will inevitably be upset about the location

Some people won't agree with the location. Maybe they have a good reason. Maybe (in my case) they just like to have something to complain about. 

Alex and I decided to get married in England because that's where we would be living. I had a handful of family members that I wanted at the wedding, and I knew those people would come no matter what. Of course, there were also family members that decided to put their two cents in, which really wasn't fair.

Without turning it into a long dramatic story, their argument was "you're the bride, it should be where you live." My argument was, "you're not paying for it", "you don't know what I want", and "just keep in mind, it's happening whether or not you attend".

Maybe I just have a stubborn family (duh). But keep in mind friends and family might object to a destination wedding because they can't attend for whatever reason. If they're kind about the situation, it's easy to feel bad or let it put a damper on the wedding planning. If they're kind of rude about it, it's easy to think they're being selfish and also let that put a damper on the wedding planning. So just think about how they and you approach the situation if you are having a destination wedding.

Con - International communications

Obviously, if you have a destination wedding, a lot of the planning may have to be done across time zones or continents! Keep this in mind when trying to communicate with different people in charge of your wedding. In my case, as well, some aspects were done completely blind on my part! Alex booked the wedding venue without me seeing it in person! I had to trust him and his family to make a good decision. Otherwise, we'd be screwed!

It may look like there are a lot of intense cons on the list. But if you are thinking about having a destination wedding, you obviously have a reason for it! Don't let the cons scare you away. It's obviously worth it! Every wedding has it's own little drama and stress; it's unavoidable!

Tips for destination weddings:
1. Think about guest transportation to/from the wedding. If it's in the budget, I'd definitely recommend hiring something to take them to and from the venue (especially if it would be a bunch of expensive taxis!). Select a meeting point if they aren't all at the same hotel or house. We hired a mini coach (bus) for my family which was amazing, simple, and efficient! 

2. Tell family to pre-book as much as possible when they get to the country, especially if they're traveling in large groups. Example, look into "airport vans" for when they're going home. If you have a large group (about 7 family members give or take), it's an affordable way to get to the airport/hotels around the airport together when you split the cost.

3. Look for group discounts when sightseeing. Example, look at the options for day tickets for the London Underground; they have discounted group tickets on the screens, but you have to look for them (they won't change the discount automatically if you select 4 tickets!) Another example, if you take the train into London, you get buy one get one free passes to the Tower of London (if you show your train tickets and print a voucher online).

4. Travel care packages always help! Obviously, they don't have to be sent to everyone. If you don't have the time/money, mass emails of information also do the trick! Send a group email to international guests with weather updates, if they need outlet converters (and what kind), the best way to exchange currency, addresses, phone numbers, any tips or information think they'll benefit from! It will make their life easier, and it will make YOUR life easier! (So you won't be bombarded with emails/phone calls the week of!)

Have you attended a destination wedding or a wedding that was out of your way? Would you add any pros/cons or tips to the list? What do you think about destination weddings?


  1. OH MAN - I NEED THIS TODAY! (the caps lock was a mistake but I'm keeping it anyway for emphasis...)

    on the one hand, I don't feel like our wedding is a destination wedding because it's where we lived together, sort of. on the other hand, only a handful of the 140 people we invited live within an hour's drive, so it's sort of a destination wedding even for the natives.

    also, I just had my first friend - one of my best in the whole world - call me in tears last night because she and her boyfriend sat down with their finances and realized they can't afford to come to England for our wedding. I knew it was going to happen for some of our American guests, but I didn't expect it to be so hard to hear, though of COURSE I understand. so.. yargh.

  2. I always dreamed of a destination wedding somewhere so exotic.. but thought it would be so tough. We ended up in my small hometown and it was just perfect. But like you said, theres always things you can change. Love your sweet pics. Xo

  3. We went through quite a few of these with our wedding -- most notably, the fact that some people wouldn't be able to come and communicating with our wedding coordinator at the resort, who worked on a completely different timeframe than us (also known as 'island time'!!). But, you're right, it is still a destination wedding if a portion of the guests don't live in the area and they all have their own quirks that come with them. That top picture is so great -- everyone looks like they're having such a great time! x


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