Destination weddings are a big deal for both the hosts and the guests. For the bride and groom, it's an extra layer of coordination and a lot of crossing your fingers that things turn out okay. For the guests, it can be a serious pain in the ass, and this often makes the lucky invitees very, very mad.
How mad? Worst case, they're incredibly pissed off and write a nasty diatribe about it for Thrillist, of all places, which has taken a break from telling dudebros about the hottest steakhouses in their neighborhood to address the injustice of being invited to a destination wedding:
Even if I was the odd friend who actually has the money to fly halfway around the world, you know what I don't have? Time. Those two weeks a year I get off are usually reserved for away football games and visiting my Mom. So your wedding has now displaced either football or Mom. I hope you're happy.
Go ahead and serve your wedding cake with a heaping scoop of terrorists and communism.
And you're probably justifying this ludicrous idea by saying "the people who really care will come". But you're wrong! What you should say is, "the people who really make a lot of money will come". Yes, it will be a wedding filled with your richest, most entitled friends. Enjoy your special day.
Well. Someone's got a bee in their bonnet.
Sure, there are destination weddings in extravagant or special locales for purely selfish reasons; maybe the bride has always dreamed of saying "I do" on the North shore of Kauai, or the couple loves Italian wine so much that tying the knot in a Tuscan vineyard is the only place that makes sense. Perhaps they just want to transition from their wedding into straight into their honeymoon, so they're going to kill two birds with one stone in Costa Rica. Whatever the case, yes, there are certainly couples who take for granted the effort it will require for attendees to go to their wedding and will be weirdly offended if someone can't make it. These couples suck.
But not every bride and groom holding a destination wedding are self-centered, self-indulgent and clueless about your budget. There are other, less bratty advantages to a destination wedding, and what I'm going to talk about here is the stuff that no polite bride or groom wants to admit: Guests cost money, and a far-flung wedding means a lower head count. They don't care whether you come or not. Actually, they might even prefer that don't. Sure, they might be momentarily disappointed that you can't make it, but rest assured they'll have forgotten about it well before it's time to make seating charts. You've saved them some cash.
By opting for a destination wedding, the happy couple are quite possibly mastering the tricky business of social politics — and budgeting — before they really get started. Putting together a guest list can be brutal if one's dealing with venue constraints or financial considerations. Hosts are forced to decide who "really" matters, who's going to get snubbed, and who you have to invite even if you don't totally want to. But the RSVP list at a destination wedding can be perfectly self-selecting.
A bride may not have spoken to her great-aunt Esther in 10 years, but her mom will throw an Exorcist-level fit if she's not on the invite list. Esther, however, is a gazillion-percent less likely to actually accept the invitation if it requires her to go somewhere "special." It's not just about time and money (though it often is); it's also the psychology of the destination wedding that keeps people away. Going somewhere noteworthy — more s0 than the bride's run-of-the-mill hometown, anyhow — even for just two nights increases the intensity of the occasion. Aunt Esther doesn't even know what her niece looks like anymore; schlepping to her suddenly "extreme" wedding just isn't worth it for her.
The same goes for a lot of the bride and groom's friends, too. If you're one of those guests who's been invited to a wedding and know it won't hurt anyone's feelings if you don't attend, you're quite likely the type of guest I'm talking about. It's nothing personal; clearly they know they should invite you, and so they did. But they really don't care. If it your attendance was of paramount importance, they wouldn't be asking you to go to St. Thomas or wherever.
Ultimately, this is why my husband and I opted out of a destination wedding, something I had always wanted. We had certain friends and family who we knew couldn't spare the time or money to go somewhere really cool, and we wanted them with us more than anything else — so Ann Arbor, Michigan worked out splendidly, not least because everyone was able to make it. But if we hadn't cared about who could or couldn't attend — and plenty of brides and grooms don't — I definitely would have been a wispy desert bride somewhere in the Sonoran.
The majority of what goes into planning a wedding isn't actually about the bride and groom, it's about the guests: their seats, their meals, their drinks, their good time. Choosing to host that wedding in an exceptional locale might not read as the considerate choice, but that's fine — they don't have to be considerate if they don't really expect you to attend. If pisses you off, don't go. They didn't really want you there that much anyhow. If they did, they would've hosted it on Ladies Night at the dive bar two blocks from your apartment.
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