Have you considered a destination wedding? It can be a fantastic option for travel-loving couples! It's easy to picture the beauty and magic of a sweet wedding ceremony in a stunning Irish castle or a reception under the open air on a mystical Grecian island. Some places were just meant to be celebrated in!
With hundreds of years of history and culture under their cobblestones, you can guarantee that certain destinations will add total class and uniqueness to any romantic event. If your own town doesn't inspire many epic romance vibes, a destination wedding could be your key to an unforgettable experience.
It could also be a major nightmare for your family and friends. If they're not big into traveling (which, why not?) they could end up resenting the amount of time and money that go into jetting off across the world to celebrate someone else's special day. That's the premise of the newly released Destination Wedding movie, starring Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves as reluctant guests traveling abroad.
This film inspired us to do a little thinking. What are the pros and cons of the destination wedding trend? Despite what Winona and Keanu's characters think, dozens of celebrities have endorsed and experienced their own weddings abroad with plenty of gorgeous pictures as proof.
Read on for ten reasons why we love any excuse to take part in a destination wedding, and ten more reasons why some guests absolutely hate them. Tell us which you are once you've read them all!
20 10. Guests Have No Control (Hate)
This complaint seems to be a key issue in the film Destination Wedding. If Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves don't have the patience for the romantic shenanigans their friends have planned for their wedding guests, you might not either.
Destination wedding guests not only don't get to choose where the wedding is going to happen (obviously), they also don't usually get to choose the schedule of events leading up to and following the wedding. This means that they sometimes end up in resorts or locations they would never have wanted to visit, doing group ice-breaker type events that they would rather skip out on. Yikes.
19 9. They Usually Require Air Travel/Airports (Hate)
Some people LOVE spending time on planes and in airports. Others? Not so much. We've got plenty of flying hacks and tips that make air travel smooth and simple, but when guests haven't experienced flyers, they tend not to know how to make the best of their time on board.
Destination weddings usually necessitate a trip to an airport, a visit to the baggage check line, a walk through a security checkpoint, and all the rest of the good old hoops that air travelers have to jump through. Add on the cost of the plane ticket itself and you've got a whole lot of reasons that some guests get majorly deterred.
18 8. They're Less Grandparent-Friendly (Hate)
When weddings are arranged far away from a couple's local community, some people automatically get excluded. Guests with mobility issues, especially grandparents of an old age, can have a lot of trouble getting to the wedding destination. From the airport to the hotel to the reception and beyond, the amount of travel required for a destination wedding can be just too much.
"Many people view weddings as a way of serving their family and serving their friends and getting as many people together," says Heather Havrilesky, an advice columnist for New York Magazine. If guests value that kind of marriage philosophy, they're more likely to see a destination wedding as a selfish option.
17 7. Guests Need to Take More Time Off Work (Hate)
A weekend wedding at a local venue requires almost nothing from wedding guests. They can basically just show up looking nice with a gift in tow and enjoy all of the food, drinks, and festivities before heading home on the very same night.
A destination wedding, however, needs its guests to take multiple days away from their regular lives. This means taking valuable vacation days or sick days off - or, for guests who get paid by the hour, sacrificed shifts and the money that comes along with them. Unless the destination in question is somewhere a guest already wants to go, there's a good chance that guests will resent having to skip work for it.
16 6. They Make Some Family Members Unavoidable (Hate)
Weddings bring people together, which can be an amazing thing! Destination weddings, however (especially ones that take place on an island) bring people together for a much longer period of time. Even the warmest of wedding guests might end up getting on your nerves when you literally cannot escape from them.
Do you have an aunt, uncle, cousin, or family friend that you secretly can't stand? If you go to a destination wedding, congratulations, you are probably stuck with that person for an average minimum of three days and two nights. This is probably not how most guests want to spend those precious vacation hours.
15 5. There are Usually Random Tourists Around (Hate)
In a private wedding ceremony and a private wedding reception, you know that everyone is there by invite only. The bride and groom have complete control over who shows up, so guests can be sure that they have at least one thing in common (knowing the couple) with every single person they interact with.
This is not always the case for destination weddings. They can take place on public beaches, historic monuments, and popular geographic landmarks. In these cases, the scenery is spectacular and the vibes are seriously romantic, but curious eyes of passing tourists are almost unavoidable. If tourist-saturated spots are not your thing, you'll hate destination weddings.
14 4. Guests May Have to Get Vaccinated (Hate)
For some international trips, guests will need to get shots - and not the fun kind. Whether for mumps, measles, Tetanus, or flu, destination wedding guests often end up needing inoculations before arriving in spots throughout regions of eastern Europe, South America, and more.
Nobody likes needles! Even worse, most shots recommended by passport personnel involve multiple doses spread out over as much as twelve weeks. Who wants to be checking off wedding to-dos weeks before a ceremony that isn't even theirs? Not us, especially where needles are concerned.
13 3. Travel Paperwork is a Chore (Hate)
Depending on how well-prepared a guest is at the time they're invited, they are likely to encounter a bunch of travel paperwork. Is their passport up-to-date? Do they need a visa for entry into places like Australia, or Electronic Travel Authority documents and border crossing cards for moving between specific geopolitical zones?
It takes more than an RSVP to get to some of the world's most exotic wedding locations. When guests are generous with their time, they're usually willing to deal with this kind of tedious red tape. When they have better things to do, travel paperwork could be the last straw that makes a guest scrap their invitation.
12 2. Guests Still Have to Get Wedding Gifts (Hate)
As if flying halfway across the world wasn't big enough of an ask, destination wedding etiquette still requires guests to bring a gift. They aren't generally as big or extravagant as local wedding gifts, but showing up to the affair with empty hands is a major social faux pas.
To recap, destination wedding guests are expected to surrender control over their vacation time, stay at a location with people who annoy them, leave grandparents at home, deal with airports and tourists, get inoculations, and put their travel paperwork in order for the benefit of their lovestruck friends. Add finding a thoughtful or useful gift to the pack and they've got some great reasons to be furious.
11 1. They're More Expensive For Guests (Hate)
All of these factors add up (literally) to the number one reason that guests hate destination weddings. It all comes down to the cost, and the cost of attending a destination wedding is way higher for a guest than attending a local wedding.
While couples save money by buying all-inclusive destination wedding packages and inviting fewer guests, the guests themselves end up spending hundreds of dollars more on their wedding guest experience. From the flights to the accommodations to the excursion costs (even when discounted - see item #16!), guests at destination weddings end up being either VERY generous or completely bitter.
10 20. They Make for Amazing Pictures (Love)
Everybody loves wedding pictures! Weddings are a chance to put an exciting new look together and show yourself off! But after a while, the standard wedding reception selfies become less interesting and Insta-worthy. That's not the case with destination weddings.
The whole excursion is full of photo ops, from the fly into the location to the days leading up to the wedding to the one-of-a-kind ceremony and beyond. These are the kinds of life experiences that give you photos you'll cherish for decades to come. For some of us, the photographic potential is a strong enough reason to say YES to any destination wedding.
9 19. They're Usually Smaller and More Intimate (Love)
Destination weddings usually have smaller guest lists because couples can't guarantee that hundreds of their closest acquaintances will want to travel. There's nothing wrong with keeping a wedding small! Small weddings let the couple spend more time with each and every guest.
At a small ceremony and reception, guests are definitely in wedding mode instead of reunion mode. They can even help a couple spare people's feelings by only having the very closest family and friends present. If co-workers and old college roommates aren't invited to a tiny wedding, they're less likely to take it personally than if they weren't invited to a massive local party.
8 18. They Can Be Easy to Plan (Love)
All-inclusive resorts are no strangers to the wedding game. Some of the world's most luxurious resorts have developed complete packaged deals made exclusively for savvy couples. Many of these resorts even have an on-site wedding consultant who can act like a long-distance wedding planner and do all of the couple's logistical heavy lifting.
Resorts have all the resources they need for creating stellar events! Everything from the cake to the music to the wedding officiant can easily be arranged by this one consultant. Using an all-inclusive resort for a destination wedding is like having a one-stop shop for an unforgettable, world-class experience.
7 17. They Can Be Cheaper than Domestic Weddings (Love)
Surprising but true! Destination weddings can actually cost substantially less than weddings planned at home. Fewer guests mean fewer heads to pay for, and the difference in cost between 200-person weddings and 30-person weddings is understandably huge.
The average Caribbean wedding package, not including your stay, is around $1,000. Just $1,000! You can get the look of a glamorous and exotic wedding experience without having to break the bank.
6 16. Guests Can Get Amazing Resort Deals (Love)
The wedding packages that couples can purchase for destination weddings usually also include perks for their guests. Resort wedding coordinators often recommend that brides and grooms give their guests resort-related gifts for their guests, like discounts at spas and water circuit pools or gift certificates for local excursion opportunities.
If you're going to travel across the world for a friend's wedding, wouldn't you love to be rewarded with a discounted resort stay? These are the kind of perks that don't come from locally-organized weddings, which usually last a single day and offer their guests a small wedding favor at most. We'll take the mud facials, please!
5 15. Travel Costs Can Be Fair for Everyone (Love)
So many of today's couples come from completely different hometowns. One example is Chantille and Tyler, who live together in Alberta, Canada. Tyler's family also lived in Alberta but Chantille's was way out on Canada's east coast, meaning that marrying in Calgary would have made Chantille's family bear all the travel costs (or vice versa).
Instead, the pair decided to marry in a third, neutral location that both sides of the family would enjoy traveling to. They ended up marrying in Mexico, in a sunny and welcoming location that all family members were excited to visit. It might be surprising, but sometimes the best way to please everyone is to bring them way out of their comfort zones.
4 14. They Have Instant Honeymoon Potential (Love)
If you're clever about it, a destination wedding can be a convenient stepping stone to your honeymoon spot. They can even be one and the same! Imagine having your dream wedding in a beautiful resort in Saint Lucia. The flight to the Caribbean will already have been behind you by the time you say your vows, making a tropical honeymoon trip just a short drive or boat ride away.
In as little as one afternoon of travel, you could start your honeymoon in the Barbados or Martinique. Can you picture how stress-free that would be? Forget planning two separate major events and consider connecting your wedding and honeymoon in the same exotic region of the world.
3 13. They're an Excuse to See The World (Love)
If you've already RSVP'd as a guest to a destination wedding, why not make a whole trip out of it? These offer great opportunities to tour the area around wherever the wedding is happening. If the wedding is in Dublin, Ireland, why not also take the chance to see London, England?
Many of Europe's major cities have affordable flights and train options running between them, making it quick and easy for visitors to see multiple metropolitan landmarks in a single 'Eurotrip.' Similarly, the West Indies and other islands are scattered in easy-to-explore groupings that allow travelers to check them out in one go if they choose to do so. We say go for it anytime you have a chance!
2 12. There's More Time to Relax (Love)
A destination wedding can not only bring everyone to a new location across the world, it can also bring guests and couples into new states of mind. Nothing says 'relaxation mode' like a sandy beach or a nice hotel.
“My opinion is that, because everyone is on holidays at a destination wedding, everyone is more relaxed,” says England-based wedding planner Valerie O’Donoghue. “When it is a local wedding, guests are just squeezing in the wedding between work and other real-life events.”
Take advantage of the chilled out vibes that a great destination wedding has to offer! When most weddings have a certain element of hustle, bustle, and stress to them, the relaxation factor of faraway nuptials is a big bonus.
1 11. They Can Be Extra Meaningful (Love)
The best weddings always feel personally tailored to the bride and groom. The personal touches that remind everyone of the unique couple at hand will always make us swoon. If you or your partner have a passion for travel, it only makes sense that your wedding would take place abroad.
Declaring love on top of a mountain? Dancing the night away inside an actual castle? The location of a wedding can really crank up the romantic vibes. And when a bride and groom choose to be wed in a place that means something to themselves or their families, the place becomes even more special.
References: Vogue.com.au, TheSpruce.com, ThePinkBride.com, WeddingBee.com, HoneymoonsInc.com, Travel-bash.com