As a person his late twenties, I get invited to a lot of weddings. And they’re great: They’re a chance to reconnect with old friends and celebrate some folks who you really dig. But you know what they aren’t? Convenient. And no wedding is less convenient for a guest than a destination wedding.
Aside from shelling out the standard dough required for a wedding (for a gift, clothes, and potentially other things like a bachelor/ette parties or garb for being in the ceremony), invitees are placed in the extra-weird position of having to weigh a friendship against something they may value more than money: vacation days (and, okay, the money or miles used towards expensive flights to the wedding). Nobody wants to take a long-haul flight only for the weekend, so the destination the couple has selected will probably dictate where a large number of people plan their personal vacations.
So, how do you pull it off without pissing people off? The first rule to planning a destination wedding without being a little presumptuous is this: plan a non-destination wedding instead. But, in the event you’re dead-set on having one (say, you both grew up overseas), let these rules be your morality compass in doing so.
1. Plan an alternative event.
So you shared your first kiss on this really beautiful bridge in Istria and have obsessively dreamed about tying the knot there ever since. Alright. Go ahead. Do the wedding on the bridge. But alleviate the pressure of attending by planning an alternative event (a barbeque, a small party, or another wedding altogether) in the States so that people who are strapped for cash or other resources don’t feel obligated.
2. Plan it in Mexico.
It’s an international destination that’s not crazy far away, easy on the wallet, loaded with beautiful I-DO backdrops, and comes with the promise of cerveza and tacos (sidenote: if you’re planning your wedding in Mexico, there damn well better be cerveza and tacos).
3. Thank People Without Words
“Thank you for traveling half-way around the globe to celebrate me” is a great thing to say, but a really thoughtful wedding favor is even better. Find something local to the destination, like a really good bottle of regional wine, that guests can enjoy during the rest of their stay or take home.
4. Offset the costs of their travel.
A friend of mine recently went on a European destination wedding that broke the mold. Why? Because the wedding was super small (or the family was filthy rich), there was enough money left in the budget to put up all the guests in nice rooms during their stay. If someone is on the fence, having accommodations covered might tip the scales.
5. The one case when none of this applies.
Are you planning a traditional Indian wedding? IGNORE ALL OF THE ABOVE. Are you invited to a traditional Indian wedding? Quit your complaining and RSVP “yes” right now because these multi-night blow-outs, filled with dancing and endless food, are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (Are you single? Hell, I’ll be your plus one.)