We’ve all heard how costly it is to arrange a wedding. But what about being a wedding guest? That can be almost as dear!
Of course, it depends on expectations. If you’re invited to a destination wedding, how much money will you be asked to stump up? (Don’t forget that that would be in addition to the present.)
What if the wedding list the couple publish demands outlay approximating to the National Debt?
What if you’re genuinely struggling to make ends meet, but really want to support the couple?
A very simple solution is to (politely) refuse the invitation or explain you have a prior commitment. That is probably not all that satisfactory (especially if you want to attend, but prefer to avoid embarrassment). If you do decide to give it a miss, don’t leave your response till the last moment. Do give maximum warning (so the couple has the option of inviting someone else in your stead). And leaving it too late can mean that the couple are charged for a meal you had no intention of attending, which is really inexcusable.
A more comfortable solution
If you genuinely can’t afford the expense, you may have to come clean. Explain this to your friends/family. Perhaps you can attend the ceremony (after all, that is – or should be – the important bit) and then leave. You might still be able to offer a small gift.
If the couple really are your friends, they will understand and respect your decision.
[On another level, there might not be this dilemma, if the couple’s wedding list contains a few items that are, shall we say, more affordable anyway – but, of course, that is not something you can control.]
The best solution?
Another suggestion is to explain that your budget won’t stretch, but that you would like to take the couple out to a show/dinner/concert another time. That way you can have some valuable quality time together (which you can’t at the wedding, of course) and show that you value their friendship.
There’s nothing to stop you sending them a lovely, personal congratulatory good wishes card, which is a lovely touch.
Openness (and tact!) should allow you to suitably mark the occasion for your friends without breaking the bank or losing their friendship.
Holding a destination wedding can be really exciting and exotic. Flying off to a romantic spot, getting wed, bathed in warm sunlight, surrounded by your nearest and dearest, certainly takes some beating.
Do start the booking process early. The venue may fill up sooner than you’d think. Be aware also that there may be different legal requirements where you are going, which may take time to sort out. (And make sure your passports are up-to-date!)
Do plenty of research – it might pay to use a wedding planner, either in this country or in the resort you are choosing, to supply the information you may need.
Set your budget (and keep to it!). Who is paying? Do you pay for the accommodation and flights for your guests, or must they? Get everything in writing, and don’t pay for anything up-front, if you have doubts about it.
Brides, don’t forget to book airline tickets in your maiden name (unless you are legally changing your name before you marry). It can sometimes be worth dropping into the conversation that you are off to your wedding. You may just receive some lovely little freebies on the day.
A wedding-gown can be taken onto the plane as carry-on luggage (don’t wear it for the flight!). Your wedding shop ought to be able to pack it up for you.
Bear in mind that a heavy train may not be ideal, especially if you’re getting married on a beach. Flat shoes or sandals will be the best bet for a beach wedding. You also need to consider the fabric (eg chiffon or silk) of the dress, if you’re easily affected by heat.
It is worth arriving early, before your guests, so you can have a rest and acclimatise. Arriving early gives you the chance to sort out certain details at the venue.
Although venues may have their own celebrants on site (or access to some), increasingly, people prefer to know who they’re dealing with. You don’t want your wedding ceremony conducted by somebody who may not like or trust!
Consequently, some couples are bringing their own civil celebrants out from the UK with them. It may add surprisingly little to the costs you have already committed to, especially if you are making block bookings through a travel agent.
To ensure that your dreams turn into reality, so that the ceremony is just as you want it, do contact Vows That Wow, and let Michael look after your big day for you.
If the title sounds a bit melodramatic, don’t be put off. As my blog last week will suggest (https://vowsthatwow.co.uk/?p=1629), I have nothing against destination weddings! In fact, I spoke about how wonderful they can be, if you have the right civil celebrant.
However, there can be a few other things to look out for, if the wedding is to be the success that you are dreaming of.
A lot of thought is going to have to go into deciding whom you invite. I can’t advise you on that, as it obviously has to be your decision, but you will need to weigh up who absolutely has to be there (it may be the best man, parents, or whoever) and how you get them there.
Depending on where you are holding the ceremony, you will have to think about other people’s budgets (unless you’re lucky enough to be able to treat them to flights and/or accommodation!).
I suggest a few considerations here (remarks which might apply to any venue at all).
- If you are having a theme, will the venue be suitable?
- Is the venue licensed for civil ceremonies (or will you actually be marrying in a registry office before you depart, say)?
- Don’t forget to check if the area is big enough (but not too big!) for your party – and whether you will need to hire any equipment (audio, seating, cutlery, etc.)
- Is there an in-house wedding co-ordinator – and will she be there on the day?
- Can the catering arrangements all be sorted satisfactorily? Will vegetarian or gluten-free options be wanted – or even possible? Can there be a cake?
- Does your package include menus, place cards, centerpieces, etc.?
It is probably simpler, if you stay in the hotel where the ceremony will take place. If not, ensure you organise transportation well in advance. At all events, try and do your homework before booking.
If you have guests arriving after you, ensure they know how to reach the venue from the airport/port.
Make sure you check their requirements before booking them for at least bed and breakfast.
Before the wedding
The last thing you want is to be ill on your wedding day. Therefore:
- Avoid over-indulging in alcohol, especially the day before the ceremony
- Be conservative about what and how much you eat, especially the day before the wedding
- Don’t spend too long in the sun
- Ensure you keep well-hydrated (with bottled, still water, preferably)
A Wedding Blessing?
What about those people you didn’t invite or who couldn’t join you in your exotic location?
A lovely possibility would be to hire a room in a restaurant or hotel near your home back in the UK, and hold a bespoke wedding blessing ceremony just for your friends and family. A civil celebrant could compile and conduct a beautiful, meaningful short service for you.
Your guests would love having the chance to witness and participate in what is (to all intents and purposes) your marriage, and would appreciate the photo-opportunities. Knowing the legal bit is long over and done with, you would simply relax and enjoy the whole event.
That way, everybody can be happy!
Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.