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Destination Wedding Gone Sour

First of all, I want to specify that destination weddings are not necessarily rude or tacky – only this one was.

My husband’s nephew had a destination wedding that was thrust on us at the last minute.    The couple “had” to get married, and she wanted the ceremony to occur before she began showing.   We initially declined because we had already scheduled  a trip abroad for that year, and between work obligations and finances, could not manage both.   Well…his family went crazy on us, because this was the first grandkid in that generation to get married, etc etc.   After getting crying calls from my MIL & SIL, my husband finally relented, and we ended up spending thousands of dollars on airfare, hotel rooms and food for both of us, all our kids,  my in-laws (nephew’s grandparents)  and several other assorted  family members who couldn’t afford to attend on their own.

I need to point out that with the exception of my husband, most everybody on his family’s side is relatively impoverished.   Some are on government assistance of some sort, and others are just barely hanging  on.    Several of the adults had never even been on an airplane before.    So for the happy couple to pressure everyone to attend their destination wedding was beyond inconsiderate – it was just plain rude and selfish.

On top of that,  they had a cash bar (even for nonalcoholic drinks!), a dollar dance,  and a wishing well.    (After having us travel all that way, they weren’t even willing to buy us a drink!)    And when we checked into the hotel, we were given a letter from the happy couple soliciting sponsorship for their wedding.    Yes…..if we sponsored them for a certain amount, we would have a dance announced in our honor.   Good grief – who thinks up those things!!   My husband was so irritated by this that he decided  our paying for everyone’s attendance  was more than enough of a wedding gift .    So they didn’t receive the gift from us that they had anticipated –   yes, their wedding invitation specifically requested cash in lieu of “boxed gifts”.

A few weeks after the wedding, the happy couple even had the nerve to call us and ask what happened to our wedding gift.   They were worried  the envelope may have gotten lost in the mail!     I’m not sure exactly what my husband said to them – but he did straighten them out.      Oh, and a year later, they were divorced.    I can’t wait until nephew’s next wedding disaster.    0626-09

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Alexis October 14, 2009, 12:21 pm

    Never, ever, allow another person, or people, to bully you into spending your money in the manner of their choosing.
    The nephew and wife-to-be were not the only rude people. The rest of the impoverished family members were just as rude to demand that the LW and husband change their plans for their vacation and THEIR MONEY, and demand that it be spent instead to send ingrates on a vacation they couldn’t afford themselves. My guess is, if the family had been unsucsessful in their bullying, the ‘happy couple’ would have been forced to change their plans for a destination wedding, because no-one but themselves would have attended. Practise ‘no’ until you can say it, ad nauseum, and mean it. Unless the couple intends to pay for every guest’s travel, expenses, and accomadations for the event, then yes, it is tacky and/or rude to have a destination wedding.

  • Jess October 14, 2009, 8:47 pm

    It is not tacky and/or rude to have a destination wedding. It is tacky and rude to pressure anyone into attending a wedding they have declined, destination or local.

  • Asharah October 14, 2009, 10:53 pm

    Actually, the E-hell approved phrase is “I’m afraid that won’t be possible” said repeatedly as often as needed to get the point across!

  • Alexis October 15, 2009, 12:16 pm

    Maybe it isn’t tacky, but I can’t think of many circumstances when it isn’t. If you have one just to keep people away, it’s tacky. (You can always have a small private ceremony if that’s your objective.) If you have one because it’s always been your dream to marry in Hawaii and you don’t care if that means your friends and family have to spend money they don’t have (or bully some other person to spend it on them) or just stay home, then it’s tacky. And if you have a destination wedding because you figure your guests will be paying for the vacation of YOUR choice at the time and place of YOUR choosing so you don’t have to worry about it, then yes, it’s tacky. Either way, I think we can all agree that this wedding, and most of the guests, were tacky in the extreme.

  • Jordan October 18, 2009, 9:35 pm

    Why on earth is a destination wedding tacky and/or rude? The issues with this wedding have nothing to do with the fact that it was a destination wedding. The entire story would be exactly the same and just as horrifying if the couple was getting married in TheirTown and everyone else lived in HomeTown. I’ve been invited to several destination weddings and attended the ones that I was able to attend. At all of them, I didn’t pay for a single meal the entire (long) weekend, and all were a blast. I just don’t see anything tacky or rude about it. If people have to travel to a wedding anyway, I’d much rather go to Lovely Resort vs. Nowheresville.

  • Lenore February 8, 2010, 8:14 am

    Some might think it is “rude” to have a destination wedding to “keep people away”. However, I suspect those people have never wrestled with a potentially huge guest list full of people who think it would be very “rude” if they were not invited.

    I freely confess to doing the destination thing in part because we did not want to share our ceremony with 150 people, do the massive planning that goes into that, all so a bunch of people could attend who would rather be home mowing the lawn! Yet, these same people would be upset if they were not invited.

    The people who held this wedding were rude, tasteless people. They would have been tasteless and rude wherever the wedding was held. Just think of all the people they spared from their stupidity and greed by leaving town!

  • jenna February 14, 2010, 8:37 am

    If it is your dream to get married in X spot, or if that spot has special meaning to you, and you accept that getting married there means your nearest and dearest may not be able to come and deal with that graciously (no bullying, no expectations, show pictures or something) then it is not tacky.

    Also, assuming all destination weddings are tacky is kind of…well…it doesn’t take modern life into account. We don’t all live near where we grew up or near where our families are. Brides and grooms may not come from the same location. In our situation, my FH and I live in Asia, I am from the countryside of one state, he is from the back-end of another state that is a good eight-hour drive away, with no direct/affordable flights between the two.

    NO MATTER WHAT WE DO, our wedding is a destination wedding. We happen to be getting married near my hometown so my elderly grandparents can come, but it is still a destination wedding for 90% of our guests, INCLUDING US. There is nothing we can do about that – we have family across the country and friends we’d like to invite across the country and abroad (and by abroad, I mean really far away – think India, Taiwan, Japan). For many couples, there is no such thing as a local wedding anymore. Just doesn’t work that way.

    Despite all that, the money spent on a wedding is spent at the couples’ or hosts’ discretion – it is no-one’s place to tell them that they HAVE to have a local wedding or HAVE to do this or that or have it here or there. We keep getting asked if we are throwing a 2nd reception in Asia. We’d love to – but we can’t afford it, at least not right away. Just as the couple doesn’t get to tell the guests how to spend their money (see: not pressuring anyone for gifts, specific or not; not demanding that they attend or that they go to a destination wedding), it is not OK for guests to dictate how the couple should spend their wedding budget.

    I agree with Lenore – Alexis, have you ever dealt with a guest list full of relatives you barely know who would be truly offended if they weren’t invited (I don’t know WHY they would be offended, but they would), and risk hurting your grandmother whom you love dearly by making them angry and not inviting them? Have you dealt with that and yet not had the budget to actually have them come? Has not inviting them been such a huge deal that it threatens to ruin your relationship with your beloved grandmother for whom the above explanations did not work? I suspect you have not.

    We are doing the hometown wedding and inviting those cousins we couldn’t really afford and don’t really care to pay for (I have never even met some of them) – if they come, we’ll host them graciously. We kind of hope they don’t. I feel bad about this but it’s one of those hard situations life puts you in. I wish we had been able to have a destination wedding and still have my grandparents there, or not had to invite them, but that’s life. “Just have the small ceremony if that’s what you want” is not always realistic.

  • Kim May 1, 2010, 2:27 pm

    Before my sister really started to plan her wedding, she got to thinking about the 200+ guests, and thought perhaps a destination wedding in Hawaii with just immediate family would be best. She and her FH had enough frequent flyer miles to get almost everyone out there, and they checked with us (the immediate) family beforehand to see if this was something we could all afford to do (she had an all-or-nothing approach). It turned out it wasn’t affordable for all, so now she’s having a more local ceremony and increased the guest list accordingly. One should NEVER demand others pay to attend a wedding, it’s like charging a cover fee. I’m so sorry OP got roped into family guilt trips (pun intended).

  • Offshoreoildude October 12, 2010, 9:15 pm

    I’m an Aussie – my wife is American. We live in SE Asia. We married in Perth because it was the most logical place we could think of. My wife had sister’s and her dad and step mother along with her brother and all his kids fly out. We offered to pay but they said no. It wasn’t meant to be a destination wedding – there was just no other way of doing it.

  • Shayna October 13, 2010, 6:25 am

    If it would have kept my MIL from attending, I sure as heck would have had a destination wedding. I have ZERO pictures of her smiling, unless it’s only her and my DH in the photo. As it was, my family lived on the East coast, I got married on the Prairies, and it wasn’t possible for them to be here. I’d have sooner eloped and had no party and gotten it over with than to be reminded that my day was less special because I couldn’t share it with my family. And it was even worse because of my MIL. Thank heavens I got a good husband out of it.

  • Is it right to dictate how long people should be at a destination wedding or to censure input on a shared wedding page? August 1, 2011, 9:53 am

    What do you think to this- am I being sensitive or is this a bit out of order: Some Friends are having a ‘destination’ wedding. They had set up a ‘wedding group’ on fb, presumably for guests and the wedding party to share ideas and information about the trip. The wedding invite is for a Wednesday and requires a three hour plane trip. Many guests have children, some uninvited, and are having to leave them with family. The groom to be had posted about some flights from an airports hundreds of miles away from where 90% of the guests live, and their intended flight times and days etc. I posted a link about (cheaper) flights to the destination from the local 10 miles away airport, as I presumed people would find this of use. This is the response I received from the groom(zilla) “Evening, took that link down its not that its not appreciated just that were trying to get as many people there for there whole week as possible!! I’m sure they will find deals for different days elsewhere If they want them i just dont want them thrown in their face. Peace out!” Thrown in their face??!? That’s a bit rich form someone with a wedding ‘page’, and also a bit of a rude thing to say to one of your ‘guests’? How am I to reply to this message? Clearly the page is not designed for anyone to share anything that isn’t ‘approved’ so I have removed myself from the group. Really an odd thing, as we are quite close? My husband feels this was also very rude and described it as ‘it’s MY big day syndrome’. Any thoughts? Am I missing something here?

  • Library Diva August 1, 2011, 3:43 pm

    There’s a difference between a “destination wedding” and one that people merely have to travel to. In this day and age, when lots of people don’t spend their entire lives 50 miles from where they were born, it’s pretty common and expected that one side or the other will have to do significant traveling to attend the wedding. That’s not a destination wedding. A destination wedding is when couples plan a wedding that’s not at a locale that has any specific tie to their lives, other than that it would look great in photos. Usually, it’s a tropical, glamorous destination.

    If she’s from Ohio and he’s from Tenessee, and they met at school in Michigan, but the wedding’s in Hawaii, that’s a destination wedding. If she’s from New York City and he’s from the Bahamas, and they get married in the Bahamas, it’s just getting married near his family. If she’s from Washington, he’s from California, and they’re getting married in the Bahamas because they both work in the tourism industry down there and that’s where they met, it’s just getting married near their home.

    To the guy above, if you’re close to the groom, why not ask him what he meant? Tell him that he came off as hurtful and give him a chance to explain himself. Tone is hard to read online. Maybe he thought he was being funny. Maybe you came off to him as shooting down his plans. Call him and clear this up if he’s a valued friend.

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