Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Destination wedding conflicts with family vacation
Richmond: We've been saving really hard for a family trip to Europe. We plan to go for three weeks in March 2011. We're just now starting to book places.
On Saturday, my husband's sister announced her engagement and Caribbean destination wedding — in April. We don't have enough money for both, and I'm upset because we've been really sacrificing for this vacation. It's our last big trip before our oldest goes to college. It's also his sister's second wedding, but I really don't see the family accepting our choice of family vacation over wedding. Any advice?
Carolyn: Ugh. Another item for the why-the-destination-wedding-concept-is-loathsome pile.
There are two answers. There's the one that works in a functional world, where you go to Europe and your in-laws understand completely, knowing that a destination wedding means some people can't come. You just can't dictate the way others use their money and vacation time.
Then there's the answer for a dysfunctional world, where your husband's self-absorbed and punitive sister makes him pay. And if that's the case, the parents will side with her just to avoid crossing her.
If you don't live in a functional world, then you should still go ahead with your trip. It just means bracing for fallout.
One way to prepare is to have a compromise handy; say, your husband goes to the wedding solo, just for the weekend. Expensive still, but less so, and it would show a willingness to wave the flag.
Va.: Why all the hate for destination weddings? You're assuming the sister will be put out if they don't attend. I'm going to a destination wedding because I want to, and the couple have made it clear that if you can't attend for whatever reason, no problemo. Isn't it their wedding and their choice?
Carolyn: I covered that with my functional-world answer. If the couple are good sports, then fallout is a non-issue. I agree it's the couple's call.
It's when the people hosting the D-Wed aren't so cool about it — and so many aren't — that it starts to reek.
D-Weds also present people with a tough choice. The brother may want to be there; witnessing a loved one's wedding is important to a lot of people. D-Weds set the entry bar really high for guests to attend, meaning some people inevitably miss an event that matters a lot to them — elderly relatives, for example, who aren't up to the travel, or close friends who are broke. Exclusion is built in, and exclusion is almost always a problemo, which points to not choosing exotic weddings lightly.
Anonymous: Destination weddings: Aaaargh. I'm a travel professional. When destination weddings were first developed, the idea was that people were going to have to travel to get to the wedding, so why not travel to a fun destination? With family members at all four corners of the states, everyone could meet in a neutral setting to celebrate. It was understood that not everyone would be able to attend. These weddings were intimate affairs for small groups.
Carolyn: A reasonable idea, until unreasonable people made it their own. Thanks.