The word ‘elope’ used to have so many negative connotations, didn’t it? Frowned-upon, it carried with it a stigma and taboo. These days though, it’s established its own type of excitement and intrigue. It’s become exotic, and I think I know why.
Since more and more people are looking for ways to cut down on the price tag of over-blown weddings where they feel obliged to feed every neighbour, Dick and Harry at one the most significant moments of their life, so destination weddings have become de rigueur.
And I think I can see their point. Instead of having swarms of people you hardly know eat their way through your big day, why not spend that cash on a nice holiday for you and a few chosen ones? Even better, if they have to pay for themselves, it’ll make sure only the people you want there (and who want to be there) will be in attendance.
I suppose it comes with the risk of you having to ask the guy who owns the local shop to be witness at your beach-side wedding in Trinidad, but that just means you need more friends!
In all seriousness though, the growing trend for destination weddings had us in two minds. For a while I wasn’t really into the idea of them. It seemed like an added expense for your guests, and could be very inconvenient. I think I’d heard too many people at work complain about them.
Then we were invited to our first destination wedding and it completely changed our minds.
Our friends had an intimate beach wedding in Greece and it still ranks as one of the best weddings ever in our memories. We were there for 5 days (the rest of the group booked for 7-14 days) and we wished we could have stayed longer. It was like the best ever holiday with our friends, and celebrating their wedding was the icing on the cake. We created the most amazing shared memories and had so much fun.
Since then we’ve happily attended the most beautiful destination weddings in Italy and twice in Thailand.
Tips for attending a destination wedding
- RSVP to the wedding. This should be a given, but many people forget. Let the couple know if you can attend and how long you plan to stay. Also let them know when your travel is booked so they can confirm numbers.
- Book your travel early. It’s more fun to stay at the same hotel where the wedding will be, so confirm your room early. We always book the hotel and then look for flight sales a few months out. Usually you can book early bird flights around 6-7 months before, or look for special sales 3 months ahead.
- Offer some of your luggage space. The couple often need to bring extra decorations / favours / drinks to the location. If you’re on a remote island they will need to pack more and offering some of your luggage space will be a massive help to them.
- Plan your packing list. Find out what the plan is for the wedding and surrounding events so you can work out how many outfits you’ll need to pack. Most destination weddings are casual affairs but find out if you do need to pack a suit.
- Don’t bring a gift to the wedding. Instead, send a gift to the couple when they return home. It’s also a nice idea to purchase a souvenir from the wedding location to give the couple, but remember they have luggage restrictions too. If you buy a gift from the location, take it home with you and send it to the couple later. Gifts from the location also make excellent anniversary presents for your friends a year or two on.
- It’s ok to factor the cost of attending the wedding into the gift for the couple. Don’t feel obliged to give an elaborate gift if it was expensive to attend the wedding. In this case, your presence was present enough. Perhaps consider the souvenir gift idea as a token to the couple.
- Share your photos. I always forget to do this, but as soon as you get home, send your holiday and wedding photos to the couple on a flash drive or via Dropbox. Even if they had a wedding photographer, they’d love to see your candid snaps. If you think your photos are good, you could make a photobook to give to the couple as a gift. Here are 5 more ideas for things to make with your holiday photos.
- Check their social media preferences. It’s polite to check before you share photos on social media. Some couples prefer to stay private while others will have a special hashtag they want you to use so they can collate all the photos. Don’t assume they’ll want photos shared; it’s best to ask first.
Have you ever been to a destination wedding? Or did you organise your own destination wedding? What tips would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments!