Wedding Woes

Is 4 hours too far for guests to drive?

andcallitloveandcallitlove member
First Comment
edited May 2014 in Wedding Woes
My fiance and I love and have booked a venue that is 2 hours from most of my family and 4 hours from his (we are a year out at this point). We're in Florida, doing the wedding in the Midwest so that we aren't asking about 70 close family members to fly, when some have flying issues. We are financing this ourselves on a small budget, and found a beautiful venue in our range! It's a lovely space that met everything my fiance and I were looking for (in a natural area with indoors space) and reduces the work of an out-of-state wedding because it's beautiful without me having to haul a ton of DIY decorations up north to fill something like a conference room. We couldn't find anything like this closer than 4 hours- someone had to travel at least a couple hours regardless.

I'm so afraid I'm going to spend my the next year and my wedding day being demonized by family members- both mine and his. MY family has complained on behalf of HIS family- but I've heard no concerns from his side, and he says they'll be fine. Do you think 4 hours is too far when there are so many great things about this place? I'm starting to reconsider asking them all to get themselves 1,000 miles to us and call it a day, or just elope already- but I know those are cop-out thoughts, when I really want this event to be special- both inclusive and fitting for us as a couple, which I thought this venue was going to accomplish beautifully.  Are my close-but-uninvolved family members just using his family's 4 hour drive to indirectly complain about their own 2 hour drive?

Re: Is 4 hours too far for guests to drive?

  • GBCKGBCK member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    2 hours is my own PERSONAL limit unless you're really *really* special to me.

    So, most of my cousins?  no, I'm not going to spend EIGHT hours (4 there, 4 back) in a car to attend your wedding.  8 hours of just travel time is to much for me (plus there's a kid in tow--so either I have to find a day's worth of babysitting or I have to have a child in the car for 8 hours + the time at the wedding...that's asking to much of my kid for her not to be a hellion for part of that).

    And when I was one of the people responsible for getting my ailing grandparents to family events, you were getting them for no more than 5 hours--I wasn't capable of doing the nursing to much longer than that (and those 5 hours included travel time.  So, if it was a 2 hour drive?  2 hours there, 2 hours back, 1 hour at either wedding or reception.  4 hour drive?  they're not coming and that sucked for me too, because I was trying to keep them involved--but it was a health issue bigger than the weddings)

    But none of that is me being 'upset' by the drive, just realistic about what I do with my time.  I'd send a decline and a gift and call it a day.

    But, if it was for my sibling or a handful of other people, I'd do 8 hours in a heartbeat--hell, flying for a wedding is way more than 8 hours.

    Am I reading this right though, that the families live 6ish hours away from e/o?  so that your options are 1) have it where your family is, and his family will have to drive 2) have it where his family is, and your family will have to drive, 3) put it kinda in the middle where both have to drive 4) elope or 5) have it a plane ride away where you live?

    So...your choices don't have *anything* that won't be difficult for *somebody*.  And, you know...that's OK.
    It's not right to ignore the comfort of your guests, but it is OK to recognize that you can't accommodate everyone, be a gracious hostess, and accept some declines and just move on.
    HisGirlFriday13
  • You have picked what you wanted in your price range.  Stand by it.

    Trust me, you're going to have someone complain about every little thing before you're finished.  Do what you and FI want.  Easy.
  • GBCKGBCK member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    Or just listen to Varuna, who is way more succinct than I am.


    VarunaTTdharmabunnyHisGirlFriday13mrsconn23
  • andcallitloveandcallitlove member
    First Comment
    edited May 2014

    "So...your choices don't have *anything* that won't be difficult for *somebody*.  And, you know...that's OK.
    It's not right to ignore the comfort of your guests, but it is OK to recognize that you can't accommodate everyone, be a gracious hostess, and accept some declines and just move on."

    Thanks for sharing and for your helpful summary, GBCK.  And your explanations make total sense and help me see some very reasonable reasons some may refuse a drive- and at what threshold.  For us, the kids don't belong to anyone we actually expect to come anyway (this applies only to two more emotionally distant families).  And the grandparents are well enough to ride for that long and have family very nearby to drive them easily.  Declines are okay as long as they don't show up and complain...

    To clarify:  It would be 4 hours from home to venue for all of his family.  It's 2 hours for my dad's side (not as close to me, and where the tension is coming from) in a more central location.  And it's about 1 hour for my mom's parents in the direction that's away from everyone else, unfortunately.  Many from my mom's side--including my mom and sisters in FL--will be coming from farther-out states to stay with my grandparents;  fortunately they're used to traveling there for family events, and it's the best way I can see to centralize everyone from her family, who are all important to me.


    Thanks for the encouragement, VarunaTT.  I try to remember that, but it is tricky when I also don't want to offend anyone on a day when I'm trying to celebrate us as a couple and the families we came from--even if we are a darn independent pair usually.  That's probably part of the struggle- what I do usually has nearly no impact on them so I don't ask for or ever hear their opinions.
  • I'm with GBCK on the whole travel thing - 2 hours each way would be a stretch for me - especially if i wasn't staying overnight. If i'm staying overnight, I need to pay to rent a room, and board my dogs - possibly even take a vacation day if it's not a saturday afternoon/evening event. more to take into consideration.

    It's going to take a top tier relative or a very close friend to get me to travel beyond that (especially if it's the whole family travelling.) If my kid is not invited to the wedding, i'm not going to travel unless it's within driving distance of my parents or my ILs since i won't have a local sitter.

    a 4 hour drive might be cheaper than flying, but it's going to be just as much of a hassle for someone. 

  • No matter what you do, someone is going to complain about something regarding your wedding.

    DH and I got married in my hometown (his suggestion). That meant my immediate family (mom, dad, brother, SIL, nephew) had basically no travel time and my parents' friends also had no travel time. My parents' siblings and their kids had travel time (ranging from 2.5 to 8 hours), but would have had no matter where we had the wedding because they live all over PA, NY, and NE, so they'd be driving anyway.

    DH's family had 2.5 hours of travel time (110 miles from their town to my hometown). Very few of them were willing to make the trip, which he knew about when he suggested my hometown, and he suggested it anyway. His grandmother raised holy hell about it until she was told she could like it and attend and STFU about it or not like it and don't attend and STFU about it, but either way, please STFU about it.

    I'm with GBCK. I'm not making that trek unless you're a very good friend. Four hours out and four hours back means DH and I are getting a hotel room, because neither of us will be awake enough or sober enough to drive four hours after a wedding reception. 

    I don't mind traveling for weddings, but it's a cost-benefit analysis. DH and I would have to figure out if we have to take off work (he works weekends), if we'd have to rent a hotel room, what the cost would be, etc.

    Ex.: We willingly drove 5+ hours to NE for the wedding of one of my very best friends last summer. On the flip side, I was unwilling to drive the 1.5 hours to my cousin's wedding. I like my friend, I don't like my cousin. 

    As long as you're hosting people properly, people have no real grounds for getting offended. If they don't want to make the drive, they don't have to. If your family is fussing about it, just say, 'Well, this was the decision we made that works for us financially, so we hope you'll be able to make it. Have you tried the bean dip?'
    Anniversary

    image
    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
  • FWIW, the other thing i take into consideration besides cost is the length of travel time vs. length of event. My MIL threw me a wedding shower in Philly, about 300mi away from my family in Pittsburgh. My mom and sister declined to attend due to the travel - I don't blame them for that at all - it would have been a 5-6 hour trip each way for a 3 hour party. 

    My OSIL, MIL and FIL all gave us a hard time for not attending nephew's baptism in MI. We lived in Philly - it was a ~11-12 hour drive each way, we would have had to pay to board 2 dogs, take several days of vacation, get a hotel, pay for travel costs - it just wasn't worth it to us to attend a 15 minute ceremony that 4 mo nephew would not remember. . 
  • Thanks Barbie and HisGirl.  I think we're okay with only the close ones coming.  Like I said, it's just that I want them to "STFU" (lol) about their issues with the drive, whether they come or not.

    How do you think the fact that we can't afford the bottle fee for our site (the only cost issue there) will affect the cost/benefit considerations for guests?  We won't have alcohol per the current plans and budget, so guests would be sober for the drive home if they wanted to do that.  And while I haven't found a hotel yet to recommend, that's in the works.  And those who just want to party would probably be disappointed- FI and I are not partiers, but we are up for a nice dinner and family time!
  • Thanks Barbie and HisGirl.  I think we're okay with only the close ones coming.  Like I said, it's just that I want them to "STFU" (lol) about their issues with the drive, whether they come or not.

    How do you think the fact that we can't afford the bottle fee for our site (the only cost issue there) will affect the cost/benefit considerations for guests?  We won't have alcohol per the current plans and budget, so guests would be sober for the drive home if they wanted to do that.  And while I haven't found a hotel yet to recommend, that's in the works.  And those who just want to party would probably be disappointed- FI and I are not partiers, but we are up for a nice dinner and family time!
    So you're having a dry wedding? That wouldn't impact me personally at all. DH and I would still probably get a hotel room because I'm just not a fan of driving 8+ hours in one day.

    I've been to three dry weddings. Two of them were fine; one of them was shitty. The two that were fine were dry for religious reasons, and they were still fun. One was an afternoon wedding with an evening reception and one was a morning wedding with a lunch reception. At neither of them did I notice the lack of alcohol.

    The third allowed the WP to drink unlimited amounts of alcohol but it was not available to the guests, either hosted or cash-bar, and I thought that was tacky as hell.

    I can honestly say I've never made a decision about whether to attend a wedding based on whether there would be alcohol. I have made decisions on whether I'm attending a wedding based on other hosting aspects (i.e., DH's friend with the pay-your-own-way reception? decline. A six-hour gap? decline. Not inviting my then-FI? decline).
    Anniversary

    image
    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
    andcallitlove
  • Tami87Tami87 member
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    Traveling for weddings seems normal to me because we have friends and family spread across the country. For our wedding we ended up going with H's hometown St. Louis (a plane ride away for us) because it was where the majority of the guests were from (all his huge family lives there) or a drivable distance for VIPs like the wedding party (from Kansas City about 4 hours) and my Grandparents and relatives in Chicago (5ish hours). My Grandparents were thrilled they were able to come because I picked somewhere "close" to them so it is all relative. So IMO 4 hours isn't a big deal for a good friend or family member. H's family on the other hand complained about H's cousins getting married in St. Louis or Kansas City because it was so far. And we keep hearing how they were so happy that we were getting married in St. Louis. But the majority of them still made the trip to Chicago. You can't please everyone, so just do your best to accommodate your VIPs.

    As for the wedding being dry, I am going to be honest and say that would influence my decision if I knew ahead of time and I was debating about making the drive. For a really close friend or family member, it wouldn't matter and I would make the trip. For a not as close friend, maybe not. Mostly because I expect dry receptions to be shorter affairs and I wouldn't want to travel 4 hours to only spend 2 hours or so at a reception. But if you have lots of good, food dancing and non-alcoholic beverages with a lengthier reception I probably wouldn't mind the no alcohol. I would also still get hotel room whether I was drinking or not for a 4 hour trip.
    image
    andcallitlove
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