Wedding Reception Forum

To Destination Wedding or Not To Destination Wedding...

So my fiancé and I have been trying to plan our wedding, and we have a lot of different ideas. The major one that keep coming up is destination wedding. Both of us love the idea of getting married somewhere away from our insane lives and like the low key and guest friendly (well sort of) aspect of everyone getting in on the vacation. We've looked at a lot of local venues and even though we keep dismissing the far away idea, it keeps coming back. 

Let me give you some background on us and our guests so you know why this is such an issue. 
We live in Pennsylvania. I met my fiance shortly before I graduated from college in North Carolina and we moved up shortly after. Our family and friends are EXTREMELY far flung. His parents are in NC while most of his family lives in upstate New York. My parents are from Pennsylvania, and half my family lives here and the other half are in California. Most of our friends are in North Carolina, but we have some (including the best man) that live in PA too. 

So we thought that since people would be travelling anyway, why not go somewhere awesome. Now, I know there is a big difference between an eight hour drive and a plane flight to the Caribbean. But I can tell you, that in our four years here, only two of our Southern pals have made the effort to drive up and visit, though we go  down there at least once every six months. So I'm not sure that they would even attend a wedding in PA if we had it locally. So, I'm caught. Do I have my wedding for my guests, who may or may not come to a local place, or do I throw out an offer for a very small number to follow us to an exotic locale?


Re: To Destination Wedding or Not To Destination Wedding...

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    Well there is a bunch of things to consider with a DW:
    1.) make sure it is in a place that you can actually get married (so that rules out Mexico, a lot of Europe, and some islands of the Caribbean)! No one wants to travel to see a reenactment and hear that you actually had a quickie JOP ceremony before you left because the paperwork was a hassle!

    2.) You are correct, driving 8 hours is very different to a plane flight to the Caribbean! It would likely be a lot more costly to your guests and require more time off from work.  

    3.) Would your families/ VIPs be able to afford/ have the time to travel that far?

    4.) Expect VERY high levels of declines for a DW. Just because everyone has to travel, doesn't mean that a DW will be the same price. DW hotels, flights, meals etc in touristy areas are so much more expensive than a local hotel in PA or NC.

    DWs are great for the Bride and Groom, but they can be really hard on guests. A lot of guests don't see it as a vacation (remember, they didn't get to pick the destination, hotels, time of year, which makes a vacation relaxing), but more of a more expensive wedding they are attending. DWs put a lot of pressure on your guests (financial and emotional) to attend.
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    Just want to point out that you can get legally married in Mexico but just know that you need to go there about a week before hand and complete a blood test in addition to getting your license, etc.  So it is possible to get legally married there but there are a lot of requirements.  You can get legally married a lot of places but you need to plan and be up for meeting the requirements.  If you aren't then you should just get married locally.

    But I agree with pretty much everything LondonLisa said.

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    I personally dislike destination weddings. I only get two weeks of vacation time per year so I want to go where I choose, not where you choose. I hate people who say "they have a whole year to save up for it, geez". Um, I'm saving for a new car, a new kitchen, a new bathroom, a trip to visit my own parents- I should not have to add saving for someone else's wedding. That's just me.



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    I'm not a fan of DWs either, in general.  I'd rather book a quick flight for the weekend to go to your wedding, then have to worry about a long flight to Mexico or the Caribbean.  I can easily fly in on a Friday and fly home on a Sunday to go to a wedding in a state that is only a few states away.  Flying somewhere tropical on a Friday night isn't going to be cheap, and not worth it to fly home on the following Sunday.

    And when I take a vacation, I take it to somewhere *I* want to go.  Just because you picked that location, doesn't mean I want to vacation there.

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    I think destination weddings work best for people who have very small families.  Example:  a friend of mine has her mother and one sister, while the groom has his parents and one brother attending.  They went to Hawaii, and had a low key wedding there.
    If you are thinking about large families and lots of friends and attendants, it usually doesn't work very well.
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    Another non-fan of DWs here.  I'm sure they're exciting for the bride and groom, but I have limited time off and I prefer to decide what I'm going to do with it and where.  I don't feel like being pressured to "vacation" somewhere because someone fell in love with it as their wedding location.

    That said, be prepared for lots of declines (DWs do tend to be much smaller and more intimate, usually by intention), be prepared to deal with the red tape, and don't do it as a PPD.  However "meaningful," "romantic," "special" and "married" you may think it may be to have your wedding ceremony in your dream location, if you have your actual ceremony elsewhere, then your D"W" is not your "wedding."  It is a reenactment, and despite what people may say, nobody wants to attend one.  And yes, people do find out that the actual ceremony took place earlier.
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           We decided on a destination wedding at Disneyland. For the reasons other's have mentioned above we chose to make it immediate family only. We knew our families enjoy and go to Disneyland at least once a year anyway. We were also willing to scrap the idea should any of our parents or siblings seemed to be less than enthusiastic and were willing to provide hotel rooms if necessary if they couldn't afford the expense. So far everyone seems excited and all have said they will pay for their transportation and lodgings. 

        Part of the appeal for me is that it's all inclusive. I pay Disney some money, tell them what colors and menu options I want, and I show up in the dress. I was not into planning a big shindig at all. 

      The important thing to remember is it's perfectly fine to have a destination wedding, but it's also perfectly fine for your invitees to decline. You can be dissapointed, but you can't get upset with people who decline. When we decided to do it we made sure that our VIPs were absolutely okay with it. It helps that in both our families weddings are not a big deal except to those getting married and it's not an expectation you will get invited or that you have to appear if  you are. If it's tradition in your family that you have to go to every wedding invited to then I might consider doing something else so your guests don't feel obligated to show up even if they don't have the desire or means. You know your family and friends best. 
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    I'd go for the destination wedding! The expense may even be cheaper for everyone especially if they're flying to the Caribbean. If there is reasonable amount of time so people can prepare and save $ go for it!
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    I'd go for the destination wedding! The expense may even be cheaper for everyone especially if they're flying to the Caribbean. If there is reasonable amount of time so people can prepare and save $ go for it!
    I had a DW, but I'd like to know how it will be cheaper for the guests. Chances are flights to PA or NC are around $300-$400 per person max. You can grab a hotel room at a Holiday Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, etc for around $200/night or even less! If you go to the Caribbean, you are looking at $600 per person flights and at least $300/night for a room, probably more. OP mentioned that some people are in CA. It's hard to get to the Caribbean from there. You will almost certainly have a layover and it will make it an 8+ hour journey by air.


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    I'd go for the destination wedding! The expense may even be cheaper for everyone especially if they're flying to the Caribbean. If there is reasonable amount of time so people can prepare and save $ go for it!

    logic. fail.
    BabyFruit Ticker
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    WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its
    edited April 2014
    We did a DW. Be prepared to have less control over your ceremony. If you want very specific things, they're not for you. You need to trust your vendors and go with the flow. For example, I didn't know what my flowers were going to look like until they showed up the morning of. They were just included in the package. But remember that these venues do a lot of weddings and do tend to know what they're doing. Our flowers and everything was beautiful. Check with your VIP's. If they can't make it that that's important to you, do it closer to home. Also be prepared for a higher rate of declines, though don't bank on it for numbers. One girl I know went to Hawaii and had 100% attendance. Check on requirements for marriage. Some places you can get a license and get married. Others require up to months of residency which will put them on the no list. Others require motorized documents being translated, so look into the requirements before you decide on a set place. Remember that you can also DW in the US. If you're wanting something on a beach for example, there are a lot of places you can use in the US which may be a easier on your guests. You have to go with what works for you and you DH, as well as your VIPs. ETA - Why did you steal my paragraphs Knot??

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    We were in a similar situation with FI and I living in 2 different states, family coming from 6 more states, and guests from some of theses states plus 4 or 5 more.  With the exception of 4 couples west of the Mississippi, our guests were up and down the East Coast.  

    In the end, we decided to do a US destination wedding along the East Coast, which means all the guests are traveling for the wedding.  We were only in the city 3 times while planning our wedding, and we spent a decent amount to get a top-rated planner for the area to find our vendors and take care of issues on the ground.  About half our guests are flying in Friday and leaving Sunday while the other half added a day or 2 to explore the area.  We purposely picked somewhere with historic charm located within 45 minutes of 3 major airports to help make it an accessible destination for all. 

    We had about a 20% decline rate which was a mix of people who would have been coming a great distance as well as some driving distance folks.

    And since it's the US, no worries about the validity of the marriage or getting in touch with people via phone.
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    We are having a DW wedding.  Our families are in the US and New Zealand.  Hawaii is the most central location.  Not everyone is happy about our decision.  But it is what we want and is the most central point.  I love DW.  As long as you do't expect everyone to come.  We know everyone won't be there and we are ok with that.  It's your wedding.  If you want to go somewhere, do it and have fun!
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    If the majority of your guests will have to travel a distance to your hometown for a wedding, I see no problem having a destination wedding.  As long as most of the guests will be able to afford the plane ticket to the location and the accommodations i'd say go for it.  If you find the cost to your desks will be too much causing most people not to come, then I would have the wedding in your hometown.  It really all depends on who exactly you want to come to your wedding and who will be able to given the circumstances.  
    My sister is having a destination wedding in Disneyworld and many guests who would have loved to be there cannot come due to the high cost.  Among the guests who cannot attend are 2 sets of aunt and uncles plus 5 cousins just on my families side alone.  On her FI family side is the same thing.  We are very close with our families and it is disappointing that they cannot come due to cost.  But at the same time it is what the bride wanted and it is up to them where their wedding will be.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    indianaalumindianaalum member
    5 Love Its First Comment First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited April 2014
    I personally find DW to be incredibly selfish. There really isn't a single person I can think of where I want to unnecessarily spend 1000.00 or more to attend your wedding. Of course, if it was my very CLOSE friend or family, I would suck it up and do it, but I would be sincerely annoyed about it. 

    I just don't personally get why people think it's okay to inconvenience their families and friends and put additional money expenses on them so they can have a "pretty" wedding.

    I just don't get it overall. Who ALSO wants to be stuck on their honeymoon with their guests?? that's basically what happens with a DW. 

    Weddings can be just as beautiful locally and save your guests a TON of money
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