Destination wedding: do or don't? Here's how to tell.

Get married in Mauritius. Tie the knot in Tahiti. Have your special day in Fiji, Bali or even the North Pole. There's lots of information on where to have a destination wedding, but remarkably little on who should have one.

Like a groom in a top hat or arriving at the church in a horse-drawn carriage, a destination wedding can be fun but it's not for everyone. So, should you consider one for your own nuptials? I've come up with a remarkably easy way to tell.

Destination weddings have unusual drawbacks.
(First off, a clarification. When I say destination wedding, I mean somewhere that you and most guests will need to fly to, or spend at least a day traveling - if you can get there and back in a few hours, while it may be a bit time-consuming, there's nothing to stop you popping out several times to check details and your guests from heading home to sleep in their own bed if they really want to.)

  1. Sit down with your partner and decide who are the "key people" you feel absolutely have to be there for it to be the day you want. Ask yourself if these people could, assuming all does well, realistically afford both the cash and the time off. If not, the idea is dead in the water before it starts. 
  2. Still interested? Once you both have these guests squared out, ask yourselves one simple question to find out if tying the knot in a far-away paradise is your perfect day or an accident waiting to happen.
  3. Here goes: do you or your partner believe that "if our friends and family really love us, they'll make it there anyway somehow"?
If you answer is "yes", stop considering a destination wedding right now. 

I can't put this strongly enough; if you can't give your family and friends the complete and ungrudging freedom to say no, or to say yes and then have to change their mind due to money/illness/unavoidable issues, then you shouldn't have a destination wedding. Unless you can take a big deep breath and say, "I would be disappointed, but would get over it, and would still feel the same way about them after", don't even consider it.

Real life happens. People get ill. Employers refuse leave. Finances fail. With all the good will in the world, making it to your wedding simply may not be possible for some people no matter how much they want to. And if you can't smile, and tell them you understand and really mean it, you are setting your wedding and your relationships up to fail.

It's not fair on your friends and family, and you stand a high chance of being made miserable on the day looking at gaps where there should be people you love. Don't do it to yourself, your partner, and your loved ones.
    Much like this pic, our wedding was perfect apart from some teeny details.
    Practically perfect in every way -
    our wedding in Fiji.
    Full disclosure: we got married in 2012 in Fiji. I am Irish, my partner is Australian, and our wedding location was inconvenient for everyone. We were delighted with the day, and with the place we picked (which we'd previously visited), but it was a long and rocky road to get from start to finish and the hardest obstacle to deal with was guests who couldn't be there. 

    Out of 50 or so invitees, 10 said they couldn't make it immediately (no dramas, as many of them were in Ireland and I had guessed the trip would be too far and too expensive). Another 6 or so wanted to come but cancelled in the months leading up to the event, and 3 cancelled in the last three months, one after we had lost the deposit on their accommodation. 4 nearly couldn't come due to last minute dramas, and one key family member who had agreed to come was taking about backing out until a few months in advance. One was horribly ill on the day and another nearly got concussed by a falling coconut.

    We invited 50 people. 27 made it. And you know what? Each and every one of them could make it there was a wonderful gift from them to us, and each and every one that didn't are still as firmly our friends. Except perhaps the one who nearly got brained by a falling coconut.

    Still considering a destination wedding and have a question for someone who's been there, done that, and forgot to pack the t-shirt? Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing a series of blog posts on destination weddings so feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you want to know.


    1. Excellent article. It makes sense to really think things through before deciding on a wedding destination and whether you really want to have your wedding far away from "home".


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