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Destination wedding, where should we go?

The biggest argument for not having the wedding of your dreams or not having it in the location your heart desires, isn’t budget, it is people pleasing. Budget is a huge factor in what you do decide, be it your money or someone else’s. In most cases it is hard earned cash and should be spent wisely, there is no doubt about that but the wedding of your dreams usually has 2 versions. The hollywood glitz and glamour and the one you have already compromised on, within yourself, based on your own reasonable budget. If you haven’t had that yet, chances are you haven’t started to get quotes or pricing. This step may come, sticker shock can take a long time to get over – so allow time for that. Don’t rush in to contract or make hasty decisions after your first set of quotes (see ours below). Spend some time to remember why you are doing this and what and why it is important to you before proceeding. If the first quote for the wedding of your dreams is less than you expected – double check the contract, if everything is included – lock that baby in!

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I know many people who wanted a destination wedding, some just 2 hours from “home”, and they gave up their dream to please someone. Family, friends, the people who they had been told were important to attend and couldn’t drive, fly or sail to where ever it was. I attended some of those weddings while the outcome is the same – they got married – the planning, day and aftermath leave a lot to be desired. One couple were so disappointed with their families treatment of them on their day, after giving up just about everything they had wanted for their wedding, that they truly wished they had eloped rather than have these people at their wedding. Every element of their wedding reflected someone else’s need, want, demand, whinging. The day was less about them and their commitment to each other than it was about having uncles and grandpa there, they had given in to it all as time went on. Only to end up with a day that was meaningless and more stress than it was worth – other than the fact that it was the best day because they got married. Those 10 minutes of peace at the alter didn’t do much for the hurt when the guests all left before the meal because they had “other plans”. Those 10 minutes could have been much more meaningful, in the location of their choice with the few people who could make it and none of the upset to follow after. Upset that hurts more when you changed your wedding to suit someone else’s “needs” only to have them leave 40 minutes after you say ‘I do’ because they have something else on. That is a sting I can’t relate to and I hope that none of you will either.

The inspiration for our invites

My wedding planning wasn’t easy, don’t get me wrong. We had parents RSVP no, which is never a pleasant feeling (we didn’t even think it was an option that parents would decide they didn’t want to see their child married – parents on seemingly good terms with their child – but it happened to us, so it does happen), and constant extreme guilt trips about the people who could not attend due to the distance and their age or budget or it isn’t what they pictured for us, why not have it somewhere they would actually want to go.

Sorry that my wedding isn’t about being the wedding of your dreams. Sorry that you feel it is ok to tell me all the things you hated about yours and therefore you need to live vicariously through ours to have the wedding you always wanted. Sorry that you have this ideal image of what a wedding should be and that should be the image we also have and because we don’t there isn’t a point to our wedding. Sorry that you are racist, if I had realised how badly racist you were, I wouldn’t have actually invited you. There I said it. I am not worried about people who couldn’t afford to go, only those who said they couldn’t afford it before they knew the cost. I am not worried about it now. They missed out. I was worried about it then. We did have people who we knew couldn’t afford it, that was fine. We did invite them and got a sincere apologetic decline. Not everyone was so truthful in their no. Truth is, we don’t need a reason. If you just said no – that was fine. People felt a need to give a long and detailed lie as a reason and that really bothered us. Why lie. If you are afraid, you are afraid, if your busy spending money on other things, we get it. Don’t lie. I don’t need a reason, just say ‘sorry, I can’t attend’ and leave it there. Probably do say sorry but don’t feel the need to add any sort of reason. We know it is overseas, we don’t expect everyone can go.

Where you lead, I will follow
Anywhere that you tell me to

There will be people who cannot afford to go to your wedding, even if it is in their home town. Don’t force them. Don’t be offended. I was. It sucked. Trying not to take something like that personally. It felt like they had picked up a bag of ice and slapped me across the face and then dropped it on my toe. It hurt, stung and burnt and was ice cold. I had time to deal with it though. Destination weddings need notice. People need to save and get time off work. We gave about 10 months notice, some people got 9, depending on the mail.

No matter what you decide for your wedding, someone will have an opinion and you will constantly hear criticism. Constantly. About every choice or details you chose to (or not to) share, you are going to hear a whole heap of trash talk about what is better or why you should do this or that instead. I look at it this way – they listened when people did it to them and their wedding was unfulfilling and not what they would have actually planned. Most weddings morph in to some huge concoction of plan vs budget vs people pleasing compromise and while almost every bride and groom will say their wedding was the best and they loved every minute of it. If they had their time again they would have kept the little things they compromised on as they wanted, hired a videographer or not cared so much about pleasing everyone. Sometimes the advice is to save you from straying too far from your own desires and other advice is because they have something in mind they want to attend or they want you to have what they missed out on – forgetting that making someone else have what they wanted is what got them in to that place to begin with.

Once the day is over it is easy to see if the $15,000 worth of flowers (or castle hire) was worth giving up the horse and carriage or not. During planning it is very difficult to judge. You want everything and you want it perfect. Even simple weddings are stressful and there are things to plan. Court houses aren’t just a case of walking in and it is done, you need to book and have witnesses. Before the wedding you might not care about something and then after you do – like photos or video – by then it is too late. You might care to the extreme about something before the wedding and on the day really not notice it at all.

Schloss Neuschwanstein – Walt Disney was inspired by this castle 🙂

How can you know before the event what is going to be most important to you after? Most people agree photos, do what every you have to do but don’t skimp on the photographer. While I agree, the best you can do within your budget may not leave you with any poster print worthy pics. I was so worried about the photos and not having ones that I loved from our wedding day (well before the location or country was pinned down) that when we travelled, I took wedding style dresses with me (white, flowing but not actually literal wedding dresses – but they could be) and we staged wedding photos. Us, wedding attire, camera and tripod. Running around the Bavarian countryside, Munich, Rome and also at home in Australia. Some of the photos at castles in Germany are still my favourite photos. I thought this would take the edge off as I had some lovely  memories of taking the photos and I had photos I really enjoyed. It may have added to the stress in reality, what if, I with my tripod and camera, could do a better job than the person I hired. It was now a new risk. One I didn’t have before. Hmm, my plan to reduce anxiety may have increased it. Well, that was unexpected.

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Schloss Lichtenstein – stopped by a stranger for a photo. TW took a photo of me being stopped for a photo. She nuzzled right in which was unexpected but it was really nice that she thought we were special enough for a photo.

We used these photos that were so fun to create in our wedding invites. Sending a wedding invite with people dressed up was, well, drama causing. We were told that photos like that meant we had already gotten married and why send an invite to a wedding overseas if we were already married and had been for years now because we hadn’t been to those countries recently…. you get the picture.


It is your wedding, yes. No one else has any interest in your perspective. Once you realise that, and come to terms with it – like I did about 7 months after our wedding – everything will be easier.

Don’t expect your bridal party to be your slaves. No. They have lives outside of your wedding. In fact, think long and hard before having a bridal party at all. Are they necessary. Are you adding burden on to them that they don’t need.

Schloss Lichtenstein I just loved this castle. I wanted to move right in!

Attending a wedding, even a local wedding, is not cheap. Not for guests and I think it is easy for a Bride and Groom to forget that because they are paying a bucket load of cash but they aren’t cheap. It isn’t an open bar and free meal, its a new wardrobe, hair and makeup, accommodation, gifts, pre wedding parties and expenses, babysitter costs, fuel, parking, possibly time off work, travel. They are expensive, for everyone. Even if they have their dress or suit in their closet, they are going to spend a lot more than you realise to attend. Yes you feed and water them, generally they give you a gift, you decorate and incorporate other fun things but they are spending, even if you haven’t asked them to, they will be spending hundreds of dollars or more. If you make them part of the bridal party – their costs will at least double that of a standard guest.

It isn’t cheap. Nothing relating to a wedding is cheap. Even if you go to the court house followed by a nice meal – it can still be the single most expensive day of your life where you didn’t buy/repair/replace a house, car or asset. You do need witnesses, they are likely still going to polish themselves up for the occasion and again they are probably spending just as much as you are on the day, if not more, per head.

Wedding Photos
Lake Palace, Udaipur. India – Always need an attitude shot

We thought about this long and hard about this, it isn’t just about what we are willing to spend, it is also what it will cost other people to attend. We wanted overseas but how could we justify forcing people to pay a few thousand dollars to attend our wedding. Well:

  1. No one had to come – except parents and siblings, we did expect them to attend and despite an rsvp of no, they did.
  2. We had attended weddings 2 hours from home that cost us over $5,000. For that we had 2 nights of accommodation, the rest were costs relating to attending and the gift. We have been on 2 week holidays that cost a lot less. A lot less, including the international flights.
  3. The wedding is about us and no one else. We want what we want.  We have things meaningful or important to us, unique to us. What others have done, paid, included, excluded, expected, received or not for their weddings is irrelevant to our wedding and our relationship. You can’t force us in to your idea and then call it our wedding.
  4. If our guests were going to get stuck paying thousands of dollars to attend, which I am sure is not usual (I think standard is a few hundred) but if they were going to pay all this money to attend our wedding then sure as hell were they going to get bang for their buck!
  5. Australia only allowed 1 man and 1 woman to marry, we believed that gay people should also be allow to marry and it just seemed so unlikely anything was going to change. It has now, and in the same year as well but we didn’t want to be married in a country where we were forced to say that our friends who are in relationships can’t be married as part of our wedding vows because their partner is the same sex as them. I don’t want kids, does that mean I shouldn’t be allowed to marry? Women who can’t have children, are they unnatural? The arguments are ridiculous to us as to why gay marriage was and should not be allowed in Australia. To be legally required say something we not only don’t believe but vehemently opposed in our vows just wasn’t an option for us. I am certainly not going to start my marriage off by spouting out some hate a politician added in to the law, late at night when he was unsupervised. No. I don’t judge those that do it, I just don’t want it for myself. Yes, it was a recent thing, most of our parents didn’t have to say it and we certainly didn’t accept it as required for our own wedding or marriage.
Our throne, a banana, a random cat, bare feet, fairy lights. Isn’t this everyone’s dream?

We got the wedding of our dreams. Beyond our dreams and yes maybe there were tiny little things we would change, most of that was stress. We wouldn’t have stressed so much. TW’s tailored shirt was cut too short across the shoulders, at the fitting he complained so they took it back to widen. They didn’t have material left so they couldn’t let it out, they did let the waist out – the waist had fit fine at the fitting. So on the wedding day when we get the shirt again, it is still too tight on the shoulders and he threw a fit. Literally lay down on the floor and kicked and hit it. A proper 2 year olds tantrum. He wanted it to be perfect, it wasn’t, so the only way he thought he could deal with it was to lay in his undies on the floor rather than get ready. Surprisingly this tantrum didn’t widen the shoulders so he had to deal with it and once the day started he really didn’t care anymore. Afterwards, he didn’t know why he had been so upset. No one else noticed, no one cared. He made a very upsetting start to the day because he was slightly uncomfortable in his top. HELLO! Wedding dress over here. Put your dang shirt on and quit the complaining or I will show you UNCOMFORTABLE!

Wedding Parade
Mum and Dad getting their photo with us. We worked hard to find an ethically treated elephant for our wedding morning entrance.

You will need to make compromises and be flexible. Expectations may need to be adjusted, you may not even realise that your current expectations are wildly out of reach. When we found out how much things cost and how quickly the little things compound to be crazy expensive, we sat and thought about what we really wanted. We knew we wanted overseas but tossed up the idea of something in Australia as my mother was having Chemo for aggressive breast cancer. We went back and forth with her. We had contacted Disney again but Walt Disney World as it was the cheaper wedding option between the two. I had contacted a few ranches in rural USA due to their amenities. Spoken with a band we had met and some amazing university a cappella groups. Ultimately we decided to go with our very first choice. Something we had dismissed years before. We put it in then too hard basket but after coming so far and waiting so long, watching mum with her cancer, life is too short not to do what you want. You don’t get a do over on your first time. We can do a vowel renewal, we can take photos anywhere in the world but we can’t re-do the original wedding. It will always be the special one, lets make it exactly what we want.

How my wedding dress was packed
It stayed like this, in my bag, until 1-2 hours before I had to wear it.

So what is the point of this post? If you want to get married at home, Disney, Mexico, Bali, Fiji, the Bahamas, Canada, Elope, at the court house, South Africa, France, if you don’t want to invite anyone or you want to invite everyone. Work together, work out what is important to you individually and as a couple, what you are comfortable spending and build from there. You may not know where you want your wedding but if you start from a place of what is important to you both as people and a couple you can build the wedding of your dreams. Always work out what you are comfortable to spend. We paid for our wedding and not everyone does. I hear all the time “my parents are paying so we have to do what they way”. If your parents would like to give you money for your wedding, ask them to give it to you as a wedding gift and plan the wedding on your own money or set the boundary right up front:
We thank you for offering to pay or contribute to our wedding. The wedding will be based on us as a couple and we will be proceeding with decisions that reflect us. This might mean we do not take your guidance or suggestions. If you think you won’t be ok with this, we respectfully decline your offer.

Model much?

It may not seem like the best idea to turn down “free money” but if the money comes with the condition of having a wedding that someone else wants, is it worth it?

Want a destination wedding but don’t know where to go, look in your heart and if you still can’t decide I am willing to talk through some options with you and pros and cons. I have been to 33 countries, 47 of the US states.

Afraid to speak up and say what you want? Don’t be. The last thing people want is to make you miserable. Money can come with conditions, if you clarify at the start – or as soon as possible if you didn’t right at the start – it can save a lot of conflict down the line.

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We wouldn’t change our wedding not for the world. If we had given up everything to have a wedding at home, some of those people still would not have been able to attend, even ones in our city. There was illness, hospital stays, surgeries, tumours, all kinds of things happened in peoples lives and we could have given up everything we wanted so that people could be with us, only for them not to be there. 

Follow your heart and you can’t really go wrong.

This is the back story, our wedding planning will follow. If you have questions or need advice on how to approach people etc. Please do, I am here 🙂

dec 15 2017

This entry was posted in: Travel Diary


MT is an avid traveller, travel agent and lover of (almost) all food. TW is a reluctant traveller, digital marketing guy and fussy eater.

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