Destination Wedding Etiquette

No, I’m not getting married any time soon, so you guys don’t have to start getting your tropical shirts and tanning oil ready. :stuck_out_tongue:

Over in this wedding thread, a few posters mentioned that it’s incredibly tacky (or tack-ay, as it were) for people to have destination weddings where they aren’t prepared to foot the bill for all of the guests.

I’ve always thought that someday I’d like to have a smallish wedding somewhere tropical that would serve as a bit more of a fun, casual vacation for everyone, rather than some fancy wedding. I can’t imagine anything more fun than spending some time laid out somewhere beautiful with my husband, some of our closer family, and some of our close friends.

This is all entirely hypothetical, mind you, but I always just assumed we’d give everyone a year or so notice, see if we can arrange some group discounts through travel agents and such, and whoever wanted to come was more than welcome.

Apparently though, this is tacky at best and trolling for gifts at worst.

So what are your thoughts? Tacky? Inappropriate? What would be “right”- etiquette-wise?

(For what it’s worth, I’ve also always assumed we’d request no gifts, since the gift would be everyone joining us for a fun vacation).

It’s not tacky, but you should know that many of your loved ones won’t be able to join you, which may hurt their feelings. If having your wedding in a beautiful place is more important to you than having some of your best friends or most cherished family see you get married–and really it’s okay if that’s the case-- then go for it.

I think it’s common, but not a great idea. You are supposed to be inviting people to celebrate your marriage with you, as your treat (or your parents’ treat if you’re one of the dewey young brides who doesn’t pay for her own). It shouldn’t cost them $1000 plane fare plus hotels and incidentals in order to join you. YOU pick the destination and maybe it’s awesome (Maui! Cabo! St. Lucia!), but maybe your guests would actually have preferred to go somewhere else on their vacation, or do something else with the money it will cost them to attend.

I think the bottom line is, you’re asking people to join you at your wedding but you are expecting them to pay for it. I don’t think you can get away from the fact that’s not really Done. Personally, I don’t consider it tack-ay as in up there with dollar dances and sky-blue tuxedoes, but it’s not ideal, either.

Let me clarify my statements. Organizing what appears to be a large, traditional wedding in a “destination location” (high dollar domestic or any overseas location) where you know for a fact a large majority of your guests cannot attend, is the tack-ay behavior I was alluding to. Essentially, instead of having a $50,000 wedding, you are asking 50 people to pony up $1,000 to make your vision come true.

Planning a very small and intimate destination wedding, where you invite only the poeple you reasonably expect to be committed to such an enterprise, and can assist with the logistics and costs in some way (whether by subsidizing the hotel cost or by arranging for bulk flight discounts or whatever) is not tacky.

Honestly, I am struggling with it right now. Hotels in NYC run $200/night on the cheap side, my riends are not wealthy, and I have a problem with expecting that my guests shell out like that for a weekend with moi.

As long as you’re not trolling for gifts (and it’s pretty clear you’re not), I don’t see why it would be tacky at all. You should just relax and enjoy. If I had it to do over again, I’d do the same thing you’re describing.

I think it depends on the size of the group that you wanted to have present at the wedding. If you’ve got a small family and they’re the only ones you really want with you and they’re all on board, I think it’s a lovely idea. Trouble comes in trying to coordinate something like a tropical vacation for too many people.

I had a cousin who flew off to Vegas to get married. The parents and siblings of the bridal couple went out as well. They did this specifically because there were uncomfortable family dynamics in the bride’s family that would have made inviting the extended family to a formal wedding difficult. They didn’t want the trouble, and didn’t want to explain why they were having a small ceremony. When they came back they had a big casual picnic for everyone else. It worked out very smoothly.

If your friends/family can afford it, that’s one thing. If a trip to an exotic location is way outside their budget and you know it, that’s uncouth IMHO. Just tuxes and dresses can strain the resources of some folks in the wedding party even if you have the ceremony in your backyard, expecting them to plan a “vacation” around your schedule might put them in a very embarassing predicament. If everybody can afford it, then party on. If your best man/maid of honor is night shift at Kwik-E-Mart, get married locally and have a lavish honeymoon vacation.

I think it can be done without being tacky, if it’s kept to a small, committed group. One factor is whether most of the guests would be traveling to the wedding anyway. For example, if you and the groom live in Texas, and families are in California and New York, a destination wedding is not that much more travel than bringing everyone to Texas. It also avoids putting the travel burden on just one side. On the other hand, if everyone’s in Kansas City, deciding everyone needs to go to Maui for the wedding really increases the travel. Personally, I don’t think I would do it unless I could afford to provide some kind of subsidy to everyone attending, like pay for the hotel the nights they absolutely need to be there.

The only destination wedding I’ve ever been to was in Maui. All the guests had to pay their own way. I thought it was worth it, it was a big reunion for all my college buddies. A surprisingly large number of people made it. I’d never been to Maui, so I was happy to go. Most people made it into a vacation and stayed for a week. The condo I stayed in was quite a bit more expensive than I would’ve normally stayed in, but what the hell, it was right on the beach.

It wasn’t a ton more expensive than flying to Denver or Philadelphia, the only other weddings that I’ve been to that were outside of California. My friends had another reception in California for those who couldn’t make it to Hawaii as to suck in more presents.

To my mind, even if you have good intentions, it seems a bit self-centered for (generic) you to assume that I’m going to want to make YOUR wedding into MY vacation. Of course, as long as you don’t turn it into a big guilt trip for people who decline, knock yourself out. But be aware that some people who might have liked to be there but can’t afford it (or just don’t want to burn their vacation time/funds that way) may feel slighted at being left out.

Not necessarily tacky or trolling, just likely to produce a lot of “Oh. Well, we can’t go.” YMMV, etc.

So would it be uncouth if he and I were just to run off for a vacation of our own and get married while we were gone? Frankly, I’d be fine with that scenario myself, but I know others may want to be there. As I see it, they are more than welcome to join us, it’s just that I can’t imagine getting married at (you know, totally hypothetical) 25 and being able to shell out money for everyone’s hotel rooms or plane tickets. I guess as I see it, it’s one of those “We’d love it if you joined us, but you certainly aren’t obligated. If you want to and can though, feel free to come along” things.

For what it’s worth, I also have no intention of asking any of my family to pay for my wedding- I’m a grown up even now, so I ought to be then (in the hypothetical future when that hypothetically happens. . .hypothetically :smiley: ). If they insist on paying for something as a gift to us, I wouldn’t be so rude as to tell them no, but you know what I mean.

Of course, but I always hear on this board that “it’s your wedding! You don’t have to follow any traditions that you don’t want to.” Without risking sounding like a total (hypothetical :smiley: ) bridezilla, isn’t the whole point that my husband and I are getting married? Sure, it’s great if we can make everyone else happy, but in the end isn’t that all that it’s about?

I guess I’ve just never seen the point in big, giant white weddings. I mean, they are beautiful and I’ve had several friends that are just so happy with theirs, but it’s not my kind of thing. I’d feel silly spending so much money on a big affair, when (a fraction, really) of that money could be spent visiting somewhere lovely.

(Oh, and it is because of all of these rules and expectations that I’d be more than happy to just run off and get married on a beach in a flowey dress from TJ Maxx and some flip flops).

I did say that it was my point of view. And for the record, I had a small, cheap wedding at the courthouse, and of course it was about hubby and me getting married. The guest list was limited (23 people, counting us), and some people who weren’t invited (friends of my folks) were upset that it wasn’t a white church wedding, my sister wasn’t MOH, and they weren’t invited. That was all fine with me. Any wedding that doesn’t involve inviting everyone you’ve ever been within ten feet of is likely to cheese somebody off. Them’s the breaks, and of course it’s foolish to try to please everyone.

I guess the difference is that invited guests are more likely to be able to attend a local wedding, or at least one where they won’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars just to get there. You may not be as privy to the state of others’ finances, or their vacation desires, as you think, and it may feel like an “unvitation” to some.

The solution here is to jet off and have your fabulous private wedding, and have a reception back home afterward.

No, if you want to go to someplace exotic and get married, that’d be great. Just don’t expect me to shell out a couple grand to share your vacation (if you know I don’t have a couple of disposable grand laying around). And don’t drop any guilt trip on me me for not dropping a couple grand to share in your happiness since I was more than welcome to join you (except for the fact I don’t have the money to be able to join you) but decided not to. And not just the money. I might not have enough vacation to join you. I’d be delighted to share an afternooon of the happiest day of your life if it was across town. Burning my only week of vacation just so I can run up $2000 that I don’t have on a credit card might make you happy, but it might be a giant imposition on me.

Just playing devil’s advocate, I can guaran-damn-tee you that there is not a person on this earth that I personally would shell out more than $100 to go to their wedding. Sorry.

I think you’re mistaken that I’m assuming that everyone can afford to “jet off” to some fancy locale, but rather I’m simply saying that if they can and want to they are more than welcome to join us. They also may not want to join us wherever we (again, hypothetically) choose to go and in that case, they are more than welcome not to come.

And why should I have a local reception if I don’t see the point in one? At most, I might have a nice backyard BBQ with my friends and family that wanted to come, but I can never see myself going and ordering some ungodly expensive cake, tacky decorations, and paying some caterer an arm and a leg for food that probably half of the people don’t like anyway.

I suppose that while some might think jetting off for a "private’ wedding is tacky, I think expecting someone to throw a party just so you can attend (when they didn’t want one in the first place) is a bit tacky as well. And I will say though that the fact that I wouldn’t want any presents period would negate the fact that I’d owe someone a reception (as it were).

((And again, this is all hypothetical heh. I’m probably coming off as a bit hostile and that’s not my intention, I’m just genuinely curious what opinions are and why- hence the further questions)).

And that’s perfectly fine. If I were to decide to do something like in my OP, I would never dream of being upset (even passively) about you not coming. When I say that it’d be nice if people come, but it’s not the end all be all for me, I really mean it.

But you know, I’ve got friends and family all over the country (mostly east coast and the bulk of my friends at that–hooray college!) and I live in California. Would it be just as insulting if I were to say, “Hey guys! My wedding is in CA, come if you can!”? Flying to California from NYC or Florida likely isn’t going to run them all that much more than flying to Puerto Vallarta and either way they have to shell out for a hotel. Plus, I think everyone in the whole world would rather visit Puerto Vallarta than Bakersfield :stuck_out_tongue: .

I guess as I see it, in any situation a bulk of the folks would have to travel if they want to come, so why not make it a more fun place to visit than my podunk, redneck town? But like I said though, in the end, the tradition of it all doesn’t seem like it’d be a very big deal to me, as the important thing is the whole marriage thing itself.

Wait a minute, so there’s “no point” in asking your friends and family to join you (as your guests, meaning you provide the fixin’s) at a local party to celebrate your marriage, but it’s OK to ask them to make huge travel plans at their own expense to do the same thing? Perhaps we have a fundamental misunderstanding of the definition of “welcome” as in “they’re welcome to join us.” The destination wedding (again, to my mind) is less an invitation (which by traditional etiquette means you’re treating) than a statement of when and where you’re going to be on vacation, in case anybody else wants to take the same one.

Nobody said you had to have the gaudy cake, etc. A backyard BBQ can be a lovely reception as well. A reception is just a gathering where you receive guests. The trappings are your choice. Miss Manners fully endorses the cake-and-punch reception, just as much as steak and shrimp at the Ritz.

Well, I suppose as I see it it’s more of a statement of when and where we’ll be getting married, in case anyone wants to be there at the same time.

And it’s not necessarily fair to say that what I’m saying is that there’s no point in “asking your friends and family to join you at a local party to celebrate your marriage.” What I’m saying is that I couldn’t imagine really wanting some largish reception (anything more than an INCREDIBLY casual BBQ) and it is in that, that I don’t see a point.

That said, I think we seem to be in agreement that it’d be ok for us to run off and get married somewhere then have some sort of shin dig after the fact- a situation I’m perfectly ok with (hypothetically :smiley: ). So why would it be so rude for us to then extend to folks to join us at the actual wedding, if they want to and can?

I’m babbling. I guess as I see it, what you’re saying is that we should just do our thing together, then do something with everyone else because it would be rude to expect anyone to travel for us. Isn’t it also pretty exclusionary to not invite anyone to the service itself (assuming we were aware that they were capable of making it)?

For the record, when I say invite people to Mexico or Hawaii, I mean like, close family and close friends (I have no idea how big the man I may hypothetically marry’s family may be someday, but I’d probably be looking at 5 or 6 of my own family members, then maybe 3 friends and potentially their SOs if they have them).

My brother and his wife were married in April of 2004 in Hawaii. They live in Houston, but Hawaii was a delightful comprimise since she is Korean, and still has many relatives living in Korea. They had guests from all over the US, Korea, and Japan. It was a great wedding, and it was wonderful to have all of those people in one place together.

You know, when I was in Hawaii they were telling us that it was a very common practice for folks from the East to have weddings in Hawaii. I guess that (particularly in Japan) weddings can be incredibly expensive in some place and that a wedding in Hawaii was not only more scenic, but cheaper. Totally off topic, but do you know if there is any truth to that?