Destination Weddings

Newly engaged location help - DW, yay or nay?

Hi there ladies,

I am newly engaged and new to this site, so let me know if I should be posting on a different board! FI and I want to get married in May 2019. We're waiting so long because I am currently finishing up my Master's and feel I'll be too busy to start seriously planning until next year. That being said, we should have great choices of date/ venue if we choose soon, so this is the one thing we'd like to think about now.

We have always dreamed of getting married at my family's annual vacation spot in Florida. I've been every year since I was a baby, FI and I visited together for the past 4 years, and my grandmother lives there. It is truly special to us, it's where we realized we were in love, and we want to share it with friends and family. However, the majority of my (giant) and FI's family all live in New England (we live in Georgia). So, if we choose the Florida location, it would essentially be a DW and almost100% of our guests would have to fly there.

My question is: What should come first when deciding on a location, convenience for guests or personal preference? I've always envisioned my wedding in Florida, and if we went this route, we would invite fewer people (~50) so that we could pay for extras for guests (e.g. welcome baskets, a "welcome reception", brunch). But with such a large family (I alone have 15 aunts/uncles and 20+ cousins on my list), it will be difficult to decide on guest list cuts, even though I am not close with many of them. I'd also have to invite some people in a circle- the ones I'm close with (e.g. direct aunts/uncles)- and not others, which I feel would cause drama. If we had the wedding closer to home, we could invite everyone, but it would not be the wedding we've been imagining in our "special place". I'm afraid going the DW route will offend some and deter others from attending. If you were a guest, would you attend an in-country DW? Would you think the travel is asking too much? If it helps, nonstop flights are ~3h and usually run between $150-350, and hotels in the area are anywhere from $100-350/night. 

My apologies for the length, but any advice would be seriously appreciated! Cheers!

Re: Newly engaged location help - DW, yay or nay?

  • Have the wedding you want! You don't have to invite 15 aunts you don't know. 50 people in Florida sounds great to me and like you're going to do a wonderful job hosting. 
    SP29
  • Thank you all for the quick responses! It seems like I really need to ask the VIPs. My mom is having a cookout next weekend and most of my VIPs should be there, so I could ask them then (they'll probably ask the date question anyway) and have FI call his.
    charlotte989875flantasticthisismynickname2SP29
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    5000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    If you pay for your own wedding, you have complete say regarding the details.  If anyone from either side of the family makes a financial contribution, then they will (in all likelihood) have a say in guest list and location of reception.

    Even if you fund your own wedding, you can expect interference, suggestions, and drama.  Almost no wedding goes unscathed. 

    You basically need to choose people versus place.  Trust me when I say that if/when you choose "place", comments will be swift.  Be prepared and remain firm in your choice.

    Will you have the funds to host a wedding at this vacation spot?  Have you done any recon as to potential costs/budgets?  Will the time of year impact anyone?  If you hosted something closer to home, could you possibly find a venue that replicates the feel of your "special place"? 

    Also bear in mind that only those guests invited to the wedding can be included in any pre-wedding parties.  No one other than those invited guests can be invited to any showers or engagement parties.

    FWIW, my nephew chose to marry in Las Vegas.  I am in Chicago.  I absolutely would have attended that wedding had he married on a "normal" date ala Friday, Saturday, or even Sunday.  He chose "date" 9/9/09 over people, sadly.  That year, the date fell on a Wednesday.  It's not always about location, cost, or distance that prevents someone from attending.
    SP29short+sassy
  • Planning a DW is just like planning a local wedding.  You start with a budget.  Have you done this yet?  This is the amount of money you will have to spend on your wedding.  No fair ASKING relatives (parents) for money!  If they volunteer it, that is fine, but it should be in your bank account before you count on having it.
    Then you draw up a guest list.  It sounds like you are working on this.

    After you have finished determining your budget and your guest list, NOW you can start thinking about what kind of wedding you can have.  You are already aware that destination weddings are expensive, both for your guests and for your budget.

    You are free to have your wedding at any place you can afford, but bear in mind that some guests may decide not not attend due to expenses.  This is their choice, and you should not try and second guess who will come and who will decline your invitation.  Do check with the VIPs on your list to make sure it is OK with them.
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    InLoveInQueensSP29
  • ernursejernursej
    Tenth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    member

    I agree with PPs that you should ask your VIPs about traveling. Regardless of what you do, stick with your reasoning and own up to any consequences.

    I had a local wedding but picked a venue that was very special to me and H. It meant that we were limited to a smaller amount of people but that was a decision we made and we owned that consequence. I wouldn't change anything about the decision we made.

    SP29
  • I think you should have the Florida wedding provided all your VIPs are cool with it. 

    A local wedding, for you guys, is in Georgia, and I know if I'm a New England guest, I'd rather go to Florida than Georgia on vacation, no offense :). Since the majority of your guests will have to travel if you guys have it locally (to you) anyway, you should pick a place with lots of flight options that is special to you, which makes Florida a perfect choice. Having it in New England is unfair, IMO, unless someone from either of your families is contributing substantially and doing the majority of the planning. Also, bonus that your grandma lives in Florida, since oftentimes elderly guests are the ones most likely to have issues travelling. And your family goes there annually, so it's not out of line that they'll, you know, want to go there.

    If a smaller guest list can be done so you can do it up right in Florida, I think that's the move.

    Most of the weddings I attend are DWs for me - my family is spread out and I went to college in a different area than I live now. My BF also has a whole separate spread out family and college town. Plus we both went to top tier private schools where people attend from all over the world, so even a couple has a "local" wedding, whatever flavor of local it is to them - where the brides from, where the groom is from, where the couple lives now, etc. it involves travel for me. Depending on your crowd, your guests may be used to having to fly 3 or so hours for a lot of weddings. I have never attended an out-of-the country destination wedding, though I've declined a few of them. I decided I would only go if it were a very close friend or family member. I don't really like carribbean-style resort vacations, and it's like the opposite of how I prefer to spend my vacation money and time, so they're out for me unless you're a VIP to me.
    short+sassy
  • Ditto checking with your VIPs to see if they would be willing & able to travel to FL (but also keep in mind you're asking for loose-ish travel plans a year & a half in advance, so things could change!).

    My cousin had a similar wedding: our family has gone camping for eons in the same park, and she wanted to get married there. It's about two-ish hours from where we all grew up, but a lot of our family doesn't live there anymore. They had pretty strict rules about where and when they could hold the ceremony, and she actually had a reception the next day, closer to her hometown (this is not etiquette-approved, and she had a few "oops" moments). Most of our extended family did attend, as we never turn down a chance to go to "our" park. I do remember quite a few OOT family members mentioning though that it was quite the expense and made a long weekend feel busier than maybe it needed to.

    My H & I went through a kind of similar thing when planning our wedding. We live in NC, my family is mostly-kind-of all in the Midwest & Southeast, and his family is all over. We planned our wedding for where we live now, because unless we had it in my hometown, everyone was going to have to travel anyway, and I didn't want to plan a wedding from far away. We both have fairly big families, but we actually do keep in touch with everyone soooo limiting the guest list wasn't an option lol. 

    If you'd feel bad excluding some of your family, maybe having it closer to NE would be better? Planning from afar is totally doable, especially if you have family near there who is willing to help. If your VIPs are willing to travel to FL and you'd be comfortable cutting down the guest list, OR you'd be alright if people declined due to the travel, it would be really awesome to have your wedding at your family's favorite place. The other thing to consider is how able your grandmother would be to travel to NE, and if you would be upset she wasn't able to make it. Maybe if you got married in NE, part of your honeymoon could include visiting her in FL? (We did this with H's grandmother).

    I personally would have no trouble attending an in-country DW, but I'll go just about anywhere. Are your friends & family pretty willing & avid travelers?
  • Thank you all for the quick responses! It seems like I really need to ask the VIPs. My mom is having a cookout next weekend and most of my VIPs should be there, so I could ask them then (they'll probably ask the date question anyway) and have FI call his.
    Sounds like a good plan. 

    I also wanted to add (assuming all your VIPs are on board) that in an in-country DW is a lot easier in my mind than out of country and like PPs have said pretty much every wedding for me is OOT since H and I live far from family and most of our friends have moved around for jobs after college and grad school, so it's not a big thing for us to travel in country for a wedding. Out of country requires more logistics (and expenses) for your guests. 

    Also, sounds like you're keeping guest comfort and expense in mind, while thinking about what is important to you and your FI, which is the most important. 
    ahoywedding
  • marigold40marigold40
    25 Love Its 10 Comments Name Dropper
    member
    edited July 13
    I say it is your day, so your personal preference. That being said, understand that since it is a destination wedding some people may not be able to attend. I have been invited to 2 DW this year alone (both live in my same town but chose to have it somewhere else). I couldn't attend due to flight, hotel, vacation time from work, and just timing with other things in my life. Both friends got really upset with me for not attending. Even after I felt the need to explain my other commitments this summer. Be understanding if people can't make it, don't take it personally or make it a reason to end a friendship. While $600 for flight and hotel for a close family member may seem reasonable, I feel it's a lot to expect for friends. I look at it just like if I am invited to a friend's wedding who lives in another state. If I can afford it, get the time off work, and timing works then fine, otherwise I can't attend. Understand that I'm sure they would love to be there if they can. 
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    5000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    I say it is your day, so your personal preference. That being said, understand that since it is a destination wedding some people may not be able to attend. I have been invited to 2 DW this year alone (both live in my same town but chose to have it somewhere else). I couldn't attend due to flight, hotel, vacation time from work, and just timing with other things in my life. Both friends got really upset with me for not attending. Even after I felt the need to explain my other commitments this summer. Be understanding if people can't make it, don't take it personally or make it a reason to end a friendship. While $600 for flight and hotel for a close family member may seem reasonable, I feel it's a lot to expect for friends. I look at it just like if I am invited to a friend's wedding who lives in another state. If I can afford it, get the time off work, and timing works then fine, otherwise I can't attend. Understand that I'm sure they would love to be there if they can. 
    Both of your friends were wrong to have that attitude.  They made a choice without considering or consulting with you.  You had every right to do the same.  They were due NO explanation nor were you obliged to provide one.
    ahoyweddingInLoveInQueensSP29
  • I know... they were completely in the wrong. They both seriously blew up at me. And I know I wasn't obligated to explain myself... just felt that I should with the way they were acting to hopefully calm the situation if they realized all my obligations this summer - it's not that I didn't want to go, just that I couldn't go. One friend I have been able to repair the friendship - I told her I want to invite her & her hubby over for a bbq in my backyard and I will bake them a little wedding-style cake (I love to bake so not a big deal for me) so we can have a small post-wedding celebration after they get back, and they can fill me in on all the details and show me pictures. I think that gesture made her really realize that I truly wanted to attend. The other still won't really talk to me. Oh well. Although sometimes brides can get tunnel vision and wrapped up in the day being all about them, their guests have a life and other obligations outside of them. 
    missJeanLouiseSP29
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