Did any of you see this article on destination weddings?

joann23456August 6, 2008

I enjoy reading Carolyn Hax's advice column, thanks to Tally Sue's mentioning it here years ago. I noticed that on August 1, Carolyn Hax answered a question from a couple that come from Michigan but are living in Florida and want a beach wedding. They're concerned, though, about the cost and time issues for their guests.

I thought the response was interesting (and Carolyn Hax happens to agree exactly with me, so I really like her response even more!).

Here's the link, if you want to check it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Carolyn Hax on destination wedding

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Wow, that was EXCELLENT. I almost always agree with Hax, and I love the way she writes.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 10:59PM
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We had some similar issues - wanted a very simple, small and intimate wedding- but family on his side was huge and on my side problematic- so we went to a small island and married with only a few very close, low maintenance friends- beautiful day, minimal stress. Later some people had issues about it- we were called selfish and cheap and a few did not send gifts because they were "not invited" (which was fine with us and also correct etiquette-wise) but it has all calmed down now and I wouldn't have done it any other way. I figure they all had their weddings their way, so now it's our turn.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 12:34PM
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(Isn't she fun, joann? I'm glad you enjoy her too)

I confess to an inconsistency. My wedding could have been called "a destination wedding," because everybody except my mom & dad (and the folks from my hometown church, and a few high school friends) had to travel.

Yet I felt no compunction. (for one thing, there was no one place they all lived)

But still, even though they all would have to travel, I would never have asked them to travel someplace that seemed merely self-indulgent.

And as a guest, even though almost everybody in my family lives far away, and I'll have to travel to their wedding, I confess that if they married in Florida instead of their home state of Michigan (or the city in Ohio they now live in), I would be miffed.

Maybe I'd spend the same amount of money, but somehow I'd mind being asked to travel to Florida instead of traveling to someplace that seems to *me* to have an emotional connection to the couple. (in this letter, the couple now lives in Florida, so I might cut them some slack)

I know, I know--the beach in florida that they've always dreamed of could be called "an emotional connection," and who am I to pass judgments on what's "meaningful" to them?

But someone who picks a location just because it's exotic would make me feel jerked around. Go on vacation there, fine, just don't invite me, OK?

I *really* wouldn't like it if I lived in Michigan w/ all the rest of the family.

I liked Carolyn's answer:
-have the wedding in Florida if you want, but don't expect other people to want to spend the money; don't be so presumptuous as to tell them you're doing them some favor by creating a vacation for them.

This is the sentence of his that just really frosted me:
:Why have an ordinary wedding when we can really be creative and make this an especially memorable event for everyone involved?"

Ummm, the rest of us don't really care THAT much about YOUR wedding. I don't need my brother's wedding to be "especially memorable." I'll save that sort of energy for my own life, thanks anyway.

And frankly, ordinary weddings are WONDERFUL, and I resent the implication that there's something wrong, and I resent the constant pressure (from outside and from the couple themselves--people do it to themselves) to constantly up the ante.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 11:54PM
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Talley Sue, you said it perfectly.

What is it that makes people feel they are doing something NICE for their guests by planning an expensive vacation (to a place and at a time and with company not of their own choosing) for them? I suspect that they are just trying to tell themselves that to rationalize.

I, too, was really put off by the sentence, "Why have an ordinary wedding when we can really be creative and make this an especially memorable event for everyone involved?"

First of all, I don't know what is so "really ... creative" about his plans. And I completely agree that, presumably without realizing it, he is insulting "ordinary" weddings.

But what really makes me think that this guy is immature and self-indulgently simply trying to justify his plans is the assumption that the location is what will make the wedding "especially memorable." Isn't the MARRIAGE what is supposed to be special and memorable? I would find a very simple, "ordinary" wedding of people I love a LOT more memorable than a destination wedding, grand affair, or gimmicky "creative" event of someone I didn't care about as much.

I also would be more likely to reminisce with pleasure about a wedding where I felt the hosts cared about me as a guest, not as an audience member for their royal fantasies and "creativity."

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 10:46PM
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What's wrong with having the "destination wedding" AND a reception at home where all the friends and relatives live? I've been to a couple of receptions held locally for friends and family where the wedding was in another location, for situations where the bride and groom were from totally different parts of the country. They couldn't get married in both places, so the wedding was in one place (both times where the bride was from) and then there was an additional reception in the other location.

I don't see it as selfish to have your wedding where you want it, but if it creates hardships for people involved, you have to take that into account and come up with ways to accomodate those who are important to you.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 10:00AM
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Exactly, Lowspark. And you have to be honest, I think. If the man in that Carolyn Hax article had said, "We care about our grandparents, but we care more about having what we consider the 'perfect' wedding," I wouldn't have cared much for his values, but I would have valued his honesty. Though I'm with Gellchom and Tally Sue - his going on about being creative and special don't sit well with me.

What I hear more often from people planning destination weddings are justifications. "It's a vacation for everybody," even though, as others have written, it's not much of a vacation if someone else chooses the date, time, destination, and companions. "I know that everyone we're going to invite can afford it," even though the people who say this are simply judging from the size/quality of the guests' house, car, boat, clothes, whatever. "Everyone would have to travel, anyway," even though hotel accommodations in one's hometown are likely to be less expensive than in the romantic resort destinations that are generally chosen for such weddings. (Plus, many families and groups of friends will provide accommodations in their own homes if the wedding is held in the home town of the bride or groom or in the town where they currently live. I know my own circle of friends did this for one another's weddings, and now does it for their kids' weddings.) And when you travel for a wedding, you're likely to stay over just one or two nights, not the longer period that most destination weddings seem to anticipate.

I can understand a destination wedding like Scarlett's. If these few friends are the only ones that would have been invited to the wedding anyway, no matter where it was held, and if they could all manage to plan a vacation together and Scarlett and her husband got married in the process, that sounds great. The people who were hurt by not being invited would have been hurt no matter where she held the wedding, because they wouldn't have been invited anyway.

Lowspark, I think what people having a reception in the groom's hometown have on their side is tradition. Even if they all lived in the same town, the groom's side sometimes holds a reception for the new couple if the bride's family doesn't choose to invite as many guests as the groom's family would like. Maybe a reception following the destination wedding will become tradition, as well, though (at least to me) it would feel like dividing your family and friends by income (the people who have money go to the destination wedding, the poorer people must content themselves with the home-town reception) rather than by closeness to the bride and groom.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 12:47PM
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lowspark, I think that you are right, but I also know I would feel very differently about a post-wedding reception that follows a ceremony at an island resort or cruise ship or something than I would about the kind of thing you describe, e.g., a reception in the groom's family's city following a ceremony in the bride's family's or the couple's city.

As Joann points out, it's different if there weren't a big reception anyway; then it's simply a private wedding, the same as if it were at City Hall, not Aruba. But if there is going to be a reception back home anyway, I'm sorry, but I would definitely wonder why they couldn't just do the ceremony at home along with the reception and simply go to the destination for their honeymoon.

Everyone has the right to do as they please, and one size does NOT fit all. I just think that a couple who plan a destination wedding are kidding themselves if they think their family and friends are all going to be impressed with their "creativity" and delighted by the idea. Some guests may indeed love it. But others will feel irritated that they are being asked to use up a lot of cash and vacation time for someone else's idea of a trip of a lifetime. And still others may feel that their presence is less important to the couple than an expensive, exotic location for the vows. So whatever the couple decides, they need to handle it in a way that is sensitive to others' feelings, which may not be what they hope.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 7:20PM
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You know, even though I was the one who suggested rose petals, Tally Sue and Gellchom have convinced me I was wrong. When I think about it, I know I would hate having someone do that for me. I'm not sure why I ever thought of it.

I wouldn't want anyone changing my sheets either, Tally Sue. I agree that groceries are probably safe, though.

.. Joann

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 10:37PM
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Woops - wrong thread!

.. Joann

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 10:44PM
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I guess I'm stuck somewhere in between the idea that the wedding is the exclusive property of the bride and groom, meaning that other people should just grin and bear it no matter what, and the idea that the bride & groom should completely cater their wedding plans around everyone else's convenience or wishes.

Just as someone might dream of the perfect large wedding with all the trimmings, someone might also dream of a small wedding on the beach at sunset, or whatever. Each of them is a valid dream, I think.

So the problem occurs when the beach at sunset involves travel and money and vacation time for those involved. If they are not willing or able to travel, the couple has to then weigh that dream against the importance of having those people at the ceremony. It might be a matter of cost, in which case the couple can volunteer to foot the entire bill if that's feasible. But if it's a matter of time or ability, or if the cost is prohibitive for the couple, that's not so easily solved.

There ARE solutions, but not all of them are convenient for everyone. It's certainly not unheard of to invite people to the reception who weren't invited to the ceremony. So having the wedding in one place with a select few and a reception at home is one option. Or maybe a repetition of the vows in a second ceremony back home (people do this all the time, for example, when a religious ceremony is desired after an elopement or courthouse wedding).

The thing I learned from my first wedding was that there is no possible way to please everyone. No matter what you do, how you do it, whom you invite and whom you don't, SOMEONE is going to be unhappy about it. So it seems to me that a compromise that at least tries to accommodate as many of the principals involved should be worked out. My point is that it's not necessarily black & white. Destination weddings are not inherently bad, it depends on the circumstances and what the bride & groom do to try to accommodate those who have difficulties in attending.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 1:19PM
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I think Carolyn Hax's big problem w/ that particular letterwriter was the faint air of "I think everyone else should be enthusiastic about my decision, and agree w/ me that it's good."

If you choose a place to marry that's hard for others to attend, no fair pouting or being hurt or being made; no fair pressuring people to attend; and no fair trying to insist they be pleased about viewing your wedding as their wonderful vacation.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 10:58AM
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You're absolutely right, Talley Sue.

We see a lot of that on this board, don't we? I suppose it's human nature, but I'd like to think that people mature enough to get married are mature enough to get past it.

I love how Hax put it: 'learn this most valuable skill: how to say no to yourself.'

Check out this discussion of that column (called a 'slam dunk' by the original poster there) on the Etiquette Hell site.

Here is a link that might be useful: Etiquette Hell string on Hax's column

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 11:37AM
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No argument here with that, Talley Sue. Like I said, it's all about working together and figuring out priorities and compromises. So when the bride/groom expect everyone to see it their way with no room for discussion, that doesn't exactly fit into the compromise scenario.

I think it just seems that destination weddings keep getting knocked as selfish and I'm saying, there are ways to have the destination wedding and also accommodate those who can't or don't want to travel. Not that everyone does that, just that it can be done.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 4:28PM
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