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Etiquette

Grey Area Between 'Elopement' and 'Destination Wedding'?

Hello folks. This is my first post. Thanks for a great forum. I've been lurking here for months and there's a ton of excellent advice here.

After two and a half years of being engaged, much humming and hawing, family drama, many crying spells and anxiety attacks on my part, FI and I are 95% decided that we're just going to fly to Vegas for a fun little wedding and built-in honeymoon, for half of what it would have cost us for even a cheap "normal" wedding back home. I could even pay for it today with what I have saved up. (Thanks for your site, vegasgroom! Very helpful!) This has been an enormous sense of relief for me; I'm actually excited for my wedding instead of dreading it. :)

So, we're not decided on a date, and it won't be a secret or private, but we know most of our guests won't be able to make it. My basic question is, how do you decide to whom to send invites to your wedding when you know they can't make it, or you're just not that close to them that you'd expect them to hop on a plane for you? Do you just pare the invite list down to closest friends and family?  There were 75 on our original list, and quite a few were in that category of "people who would have come if it was local, but don't know us well enough to invest in a vacation for us." I guess I just feel guilty for sending frivolous invites when we're in our 40s and already established in our home. It feels like we'd be asking for gifts. We aren't. We just want everyone to know that they'd be more than welcome to show up for the wedding. (And if enough showed up, heck, we'd shell out for a small reception, but the odds of that are remote. ;) )

Thanks for letting me think out loud.

Re: Grey Area Between 'Elopement' and 'Destination Wedding'?

  • An elopement is when the bride and groom get married without anyone else knowing- thus no guests.

    It is up to the two of you to decide if you'd like to invite guests or not. If you don't, you can always send wedding announcements after to let people know you were married.

    I agree that you should invite who you want there- let them make the decision regarding whether they attend or not.

    And yes, anyone who attends the ceremony should be thanked for doing so (aka. the reception). This can be as simple as dinner at a restaurant to your more traditional receptions.


    CMGragain
  • Oh!  Quick comment on the title of the post.

    I see elopements and destination weddings as totally different entities.  Sure, a couple can elope after traveling to somewhere else.  But they can also elope in their hometown.  And a destination wedding can be anything from just the bridal couple to a huge gala affair with 200+ guests.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    mollybarker11SP29
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Let the invitees decide if they want to come or not if you really want to invite them. You might be surprised at people who will show up. If you don't want them there to witness you marriage don't invite them. As for a reception, it doesn't matter how many people show up for the ceremony. Anyone who is at the ceremony should be hosted at a reception following the ceremony with the appropriate food and drink for the time of day. The last part means a meal if it is during a meal time (lunch or dinner) or "cake and punch" if it is outside a meal time. Hosting obligations are not dependent on the number of people attending the ceremony.

    Good luck with your planning.
    Truth right there.  My nephew decided to hit up Vegas for his wedding.  He invited immediate family and close friends.  I absolutely would have gone, even if it was nothing more than a "long weekend".....had he had it on a weekend day.  Unfortunately, he chose date....9-9-09.....over the convenience of a weekend.  Marrying out of state, on a Wednesday, the second week of school (I teach), made it impossible for me.  Never rule out anyone accepting an invitation.
  • Let the invitees decide if they want to come or not if you really want to invite them. You might be surprised at people who will show up. If you don't want them there to witness you marriage don't invite them. As for a reception, it doesn't matter how many people show up for the ceremony. Anyone who is at the ceremony should be hosted at a reception following the ceremony with the appropriate food and drink for the time of day. The last part means a meal if it is during a meal time (lunch or dinner) or "cake and punch" if it is outside a meal time. Hosting obligations are not dependent on the number of people attending the ceremony.

    Good luck with your planning.

    I couldn't bold.  But I personally disagree with a "cake and punch" reception being okay for outside a meal time for a destination wedding.  Destination = bride/groom/and all/most guests are traveling.

    I guess technically it is still within etiquette but, seriously?  If a bridal couple chooses to get married in Vegas or on a beach in the Bahamas, and their family and friends take planes and have multi-night hotel stays to witness the ceremony, the bridal couple needs to have a reception with meals and drinks (not necessarily alcoholic).

    That little rant was not directed at the OP or at @ILoveBeachMusic, but I just had to give a "hell no", lol.

    With that said, back to OP.  It's really up to you all.  There's nothing wrong with having a private ceremony with no guests.  But, if you would like to invite people, keep in mind you will have to have a properly hosted reception for those in attendance.  Now, especially if you keep your guest list small, this could be as simple as reserving a table or a room at a restaurant and treating everyone to lunch or dinner (depending on the time of your ceremony).

    If it were me and I wanted to invite some people, I would probably pare my list down to VIPs.  Especially since one of the advantages you talk about for Vegas is the savings.  Whoever can go, great.  If no one can go, that's fine also.  Even if someone has told you they won't go, send them an invite once you have your dates/details finalized.  Let them decide, once they have the invitation.

    Don't invite your original guest list of 75 people if you all are not fully prepared to host every single person if they all decide to come.  You really never know.  And you don't want to suddenly find yourself shelling out even more money than if you all had just stayed home for your ceremony/reception.

    As an aside, my friend's son had a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic.  They had 60 guests travel there. 

    You are right and I stand corrected. I guess I was thinking a reception not a destination wedding reception. 
    short+sassy
  • I agree.  Cake and punch receptions are for home weddings.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    short+sassySwissMs
  • I think you could go either way on this one as far as the guest list goes. If these are all people you'd truly like to invite to your wedding, then go ahead and invite them and let them decide whether to attend, send a gift, etc. However, if there are people that you really don't feel one way or the other about them being there, I personally wouldn't invite them - and I'd say that regardless of where you were getting married.

    I do agree that a cake and punch reception would not be appropriate here. If people have put out the expense and time to go to your destination wedding, you need to serve them a full meal no matter what time the ceremony is.


    image
    short+sassyPrettyGirlLost
  • Hi everyone. Thanks so much for the comments.
    I did this the first time around.  We had 19 guests. If I could do it again, we would have just went away the two of us.

    I didn't have a good time, mainly because I felt like I was responsible for everyone else having a good time.  I was exhausted and cranky even after my guests left (we were married  on a Friday and most of our guests stayed through Sunday).

    Oh boy. This is an important thing for me to consider. I'm exactly like that: there's no way I'd have a good time if I felt like I had to "host" everyone for five straight days. I'm picturing insomnia (both of us have a hard time with this) and then unwanted 6:30 am phonecalls, "so when are we going to breakfast?" LOL.

    Helenahhandbasket
  • I did this the first time around.  We had 19 guests. If I could do it again, we would have just went away the two of us.

    I didn't have a good time, mainly because I felt like I was responsible for everyone else having a good time.  I was exhausted and cranky even after my guests left (we were married  on a Friday and most of our guests stayed through Sunday).

    So my BTDT advice is for it to just be the two of you.  It won't really be an elopement in the true sense of the word though because it sounds like most people know about your plans.  It will just be a private destination wedding.
    That's exactly why the decision to elope or have a small immediate family only City Hall wedding was really our only two options, I really hate planning because I get neurotic about making sure everyone is entertained. Thankfully besides my Grandma everyone was from the area so we only had to "entertain" for lunch and then we went on our merry way. I couldn't handle a whole weekend of expectations!
  • Hi everyone. Thanks so much for the comments.
    I did this the first time around.  We had 19 guests. If I could do it again, we would have just went away the two of us.

    I didn't have a good time, mainly because I felt like I was responsible for everyone else having a good time.  I was exhausted and cranky even after my guests left (we were married  on a Friday and most of our guests stayed through Sunday).

    Oh boy. This is an important thing for me to consider. I'm exactly like that: there's no way I'd have a good time if I felt like I had to "host" everyone for five straight days. I'm picturing insomnia (both of us have a hard time with this) and then unwanted 6:30 am phonecalls, "so when are we going to breakfast?" LOL.

    You know your crowd best, so to the bolded- are they people that would need to be hosted for five straight days?  I've only attended 3 DW's, but I went because the destination was somewhere I'd vacation anyway.  And the trip was a vacation- aside from the wedding ceremony and reception at all three (and an RD at one and a morning-after brunch at another), it was my vacation.  I didn't really want to see other guests, or the couple.  Are your guests independent/like their space?  You don't have to host anything other than the reception (and if people have traveled, it should be top-notch).  But if you want a DW and feel that every guest will want to be together the whole time, and that doesn't appeal to you, a private wedding is for you.
  • Personally I don't like the concept of a "Destination Wedding". It doesn't make sense to me unless you live in the same area as 100% of your guests. Most weddings I've been to have been a "destination" for at least a portion of the guest list.

    Pick a location, time, and place, invite people, and host them appropriately according to the time/place. It doesn't matter to me if you're getting married in Boston or rural Louisiana or Las Vegas or Bermuda--your job is to host people from the start of the ceremony until the end of the reception. If people want to (or need to) be at the city/town longer than just the wedding, that's up to them.

    It's NICE if you make an effort to have a "welcome" the night before and a brunch the morning after if you know a lot of people are traveling, but it's totally not necessary. If people don't want to come to your wedding they won't come. You don't have to pay for, or be responsible for, people's vacations just because you are getting married someplace they need to fly to. 
    PrettyGirlLost
  • Thanks again for all the advice. This will probably be long-winded, sorry in advance. :blush:

    A little more background: FI and I are in the Toronto area. We're both very introverted and don't have any BFFs; just acquaintances. Both of my parents are immigrants, and my mom died a few years ago, so there exactly 2 (two) guests I'd really want to attend the ceremony on my side: my dad and my brother, who both would have loved to travel to Vegas. My mom's relatives would be the next 'tier' of invitees, and we're not close, plus they're not close with each other. This was the "family drama" aspect of things. 

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, FI has 9 (nine) siblings, and coworkers that are like family to both of us (I have no close coworkers.) But, FI also has an anxiety disorder worse than mine. Crowds, people-pleasing and guilt are overwhelming for both of us. Geographically, his sibs are pretty spread out all over the place (Canada is big!) He's one of the younger ones (we're in our 40s) and everyone is busy with families of their own. That's why we were considering just flying off to Vegas (if you think a DW is rude.)

    So, we basically have a choice between a huge wedding or a tiny one. Even "immediate family only" will be pretty sizable. ;) 

    I would have LOVED the Vegas wedding. I love traveling. ...but we just had a wonderful Xmas get-together with his family, and for the first time, I felt accepted by them more than I felt like I had to "measure up" or impress anyone. They're wonderful, down-to-earth people and I had a real change of heart about wanting to run away from it all for the wedding. We talked about it, and FI sort of clarified how much traveling, or just being out of his element, stresses him out and triggers bad anxiety. I'm sure he would have done the Vegas thing to "make me happy", but I certainly wouldn't have been happy if he was miserable. <3
    You know your crowd best, so to the bolded- are they people that would need to be hosted for five straight days?  
    The folks I'm thinking of are my mom's relatives that I haven't seen since her interment in the US 3 years ago. I know they'd want to spend a lot of time catching up. I guess I could trust them to give us our space, but I remember when I was growing up, any time we went there to visit, the relatives were in constant contact with mom, planning every minute of our time there, and we were running around so much that my brother and I probably never had a better sleep in our young lives. Heh.
  • The thing about a wedding is there is no reason for them to be staying with you, so if you don't want to see them all the time you just don't. Have welcome drinks Friday night to throw them a bone, then be very busy doing bride things all day Saturday until the wedding, then leave on your honeymoon first thing Sunday morning. That's a totally common and acceptable schedule, and it's completely okay to just say you aren't available for anything else. 
    ILoveBeachMusicPrettyGirlLostshort+sassyInLoveInQueens
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    The thing about a wedding is there is no reason for them to be staying with you, so if you don't want to see them all the time you just don't. Have welcome drinks Friday night to throw them a bone, then be very busy doing bride things all day Saturday until the wedding, then leave on your honeymoon first thing Sunday morning. That's a totally common and acceptable schedule, and it's completely okay to just say you aren't available for anything else. 

    STUCK IN BOX

    From your last post, OP, it sounds like you're shying away from Vegas now because it may not make your FI happy? Just checking.

    Weddings with family pressure can be stressful, especially for introverts. I totally get that. We had a small-ish wedding of around 70 when it could have easily been 150+. Have no regrets about having a private wedding if that's what makes you both happy- whether that's in Vegas or Toronto. 

    I'll support what Star and others said- you shouldn't have to "entertain" people every moment for a destination wedding. You also don't know who's going to want to vacation around your wedding and won't need entertaining. I've actually skipped "welcome" type events around weddings I've traveled to (they weren't mandatory, I wasn't rude! hah) because I wanted to do other stuff. Cases in point- for an Orlando wedding, my date and I went to Universal all weekend around the wedding itself. For a Napa wedding, DH and I went wine tasting on our own. For a Denver wedding, we explored the city and some nearby natural wonders on our own. 

    Good luck with your decision! 
    ________________________________



  • From your last post, OP, it sounds like you're shying away from Vegas now because it may not make your FI happy? Just checking.
    Yes, that's correct. He wants to just go to city hall, then take everyone out to a nice dinner or what not. No fancy reception, no DJ, no dancing. I'm on board with that, but city hall has a seating limit of 50 when our original guest list was about 75, so we still might look into alternatives. I mean, we're over 50 if it's just sibs, their kids, our parents, and plus ones. :smiley:
  • klj1122 said:

    Yes, that's correct. He wants to just go to city hall, then take everyone out to a nice dinner or what not. No fancy reception, no DJ, no dancing. I'm on board with that, but city hall has a seating limit of 50 when our original guest list was about 75, so we still might look into alternatives. I mean, we're over 50 if it's just sibs, their kids, our parents, and plus ones. :smiley:
    Just noting there's a difference in terminology that may impact this: "Plus ones" are for single guests and aren't required. If some of your parents or siblings are single you do not need to give them a plus one so that they can bring a friend/date. Would your guest list fall under 50 in this scenario?

    Of course if you just meant your parents' or siblings' significant others (SO) they do need to be invited.

    Good luck with your plans! People-pleasing can be a huge stressor, but as pps have mentioned your hosting duties are for the day-of only!

    SP29
  • klj1122 said:

    From your last post, OP, it sounds like you're shying away from Vegas now because it may not make your FI happy? Just checking.
    Yes, that's correct. He wants to just go to city hall, then take everyone out to a nice dinner or what not. No fancy reception, no DJ, no dancing. I'm on board with that, but city hall has a seating limit of 50 when our original guest list was about 75, so we still might look into alternatives. I mean, we're over 50 if it's just sibs, their kids, our parents, and plus ones. :smiley:
    You can hire a Justice of the Peace, or get anyone you know to get "ordained" or authorized to perform the ceremony, and do it absolutely anywhere you want. It doesn't have to mean dancing and a DJ. What about a room at a restaurant? You could do a short ceremony right there before having dinner, with the guests just seated at their tables. You don't need an aisle and all the typical trappings of a ceremony if you don't want them!
    SP29
  • MandyMost said:
    klj1122 said:

    From your last post, OP, it sounds like you're shying away from Vegas now because it may not make your FI happy? Just checking.
    Yes, that's correct. He wants to just go to city hall, then take everyone out to a nice dinner or what not. No fancy reception, no DJ, no dancing. I'm on board with that, but city hall has a seating limit of 50 when our original guest list was about 75, so we still might look into alternatives. I mean, we're over 50 if it's just sibs, their kids, our parents, and plus ones. :smiley:
    You can hire a Justice of the Peace, or get anyone you know to get "ordained" or authorized to perform the ceremony, and do it absolutely anywhere you want. It doesn't have to mean dancing and a DJ. What about a room at a restaurant? You could do a short ceremony right there before having dinner, with the guests just seated at their tables. You don't need an aisle and all the typical trappings of a ceremony if you don't want them!
    Actually you can't do any of this in Ontario. There are select few people who can perform marriages and it's very difficult to become "authorised" to perform marriages. 

    OP, you and your FI need to figure out what kind of wedding you want then figure out your guest list.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    MandyMost said:
    klj1122 said:

    From your last post, OP, it sounds like you're shying away from Vegas now because it may not make your FI happy? Just checking.
    Yes, that's correct. He wants to just go to city hall, then take everyone out to a nice dinner or what not. No fancy reception, no DJ, no dancing. I'm on board with that, but city hall has a seating limit of 50 when our original guest list was about 75, so we still might look into alternatives. I mean, we're over 50 if it's just sibs, their kids, our parents, and plus ones. :smiley:
    You can hire a Justice of the Peace, or get anyone you know to get "ordained" or authorized to perform the ceremony, and do it absolutely anywhere you want. It doesn't have to mean dancing and a DJ. What about a room at a restaurant? You could do a short ceremony right there before having dinner, with the guests just seated at their tables. You don't need an aisle and all the typical trappings of a ceremony if you don't want them!
    Nope, not valid in all states.

    For instance, there is conflicting case law in PA regarding online ordinations, and according to the Universal Life Church website there's only one county in PA where their ordinations are accepted.  I believe PA also has residency requirements for the person conducting the ceremony.

    I'd suggest talking to the county clerk in the county you will be getting your marriage license to make sure using an online ordained minister is valid.



    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    cowgirl8238
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