Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, is right about almost everything. She’s been pretty vocal about her disregard, if not appall, for a lot of wedding-related behaviour, and I tend to agree with most of it. For instance, wedding favours can be pretty, but they’re mostly just a waste of time and money, and the less they are considered compulsory, the better. And, the groom and bridal party should be made up of closest friends, not selected based on gender or matching numbers (groomsmaids and bridesmen are the way of the future!). When it comes to destination weddings, Miss Manners has some opinions. Some great opinions. But opinions that may not be as universally applicable as she would like.
Her argument is that weddings should be local, and if you want to travel to a romantic exotic location, that is for the honeymoon, not the wedding. Destination weddings are disrespectful to your guests: you’re asking them to spend a lot of money, and a lot of time, traveling to a place they didn’t select, and essentially having a holiday* with people they didn’t select. She also feels the celebration has gotten out of control, spilling out into various types of warm-up events (showers, stag and hen nights, welcome parties), and after parties (morning-after brunches). This is also demanding perhaps more than your fair share of your guests’ time, plus it requires more and more money, which you most probably cannot afford. And it intrudes into the honeymoon, just when the couple should understandably be left alone.
I think the most common reasons people have destination weddings are 1. The destination has a strong brand of being a romantic, wonderful place, and WIC has sold us all on the need to make the wedding as visually appealing as possible, and 2. Even after taking the cost of flights into account, the difference in costs between your home and the destination can mean the whole thing still comes out cheaper. For instance, British people love having their weddings in Thailand.
I totally agree with Miss Manners and I think the common reasons for destination weddings suck. Because the fantasy of weddings is out of control and I want to redefine weddings to be more authentic with our actual lives. I believe if you can only afford a barbecue at home for the same cost as a ball in Thailand, then what you should do is have a barbecue at home.
But all this reasoning only works if you live, physically, in the same local area as your guests and loved ones. In that case, sure, you don’t need add-on events because you see all these peeps quite often.
But how many people live in these circumstances any more? My man and I live in Singapore, and our immediate family members are in New Zealand and Australia, with extended family members in South Africa, England, and a few other places, and our friends are all over the dang place.
We had initially thought we should have our wedding in Auckland. But such is the nature of kiwis that most our good friends from there are no longer there, and it turns out we’re down to about one couple of friends, three parents, and one brother and sister-in-law still residing in NZ. So, the majority of the guests
would have to travel overseas to get to our wedding anyway.
And the thing about NZ is that it’s pretty far away from most places. And the thing about South East Asia is that it’s relatively closer. If you’re in England
or South Africa, it’s much easier (and cheaper) to get to South East Asia
than it is to get NZ. So it turns out having a tropical destination wedding is
actually the least demanding thing we can offer our guests.
As far as the peripheral wedding events ago, you can bet we’re having them. If our guests, some of whom we haven’t seen for years, and maybe won’t see for years again after the wedding, are going to travel all this way, you can bet the time with them is not going to be limited to the few minutes we can spend with them at the reception.
In sum, the Frugal Wedding rules on destination weddings:
1. If your most important guests (immediate family, best friends) are not mainly concentrated in one geographical area, having a destination wedding makes sense.
2. Choose a location that’s relatively easy to get to, on the whole.
3. Since your guests are spending so much money and time to be there, spend some time actually seeing them.
4. Guests sure as hell do not have to give presents.
*USA-ians, please substitute the word ‘vacation’ for