There are two different kinds of brides and grooms, in my experience. Those who are all about their guests and making sure everyone has the time of their lives at their destination wedding. And then there are brides and grooms who are ALLLL about themselves. Unfortunately, at least one-quarter of brides and grooms fall into the second category.
What are the signs that tell a planner which bride and groom are what kind of couple? You can base it on the budget priorities they establish from the very first moment we start the planning. Sometimes it's obvious during the initial consultation.
The most apparently selfish couples are the ones who say, for example, that they have a $25,000 budget for their wedding and honeymoon - but they don't want to spend more than $12k on the wedding expenses because of their planned three week honeymoon to Tahiti or the Galapagos islands. Obviously, they're more worried about their vacation afterwards than the details of the wedding itself.
Generous brides and grooms ask questions about how much the wedding will cost their guests, how many events they can squeeze out of their budget that allow them to feed their guests, and what they should be providing in a welcome bag to make sure everybody is comfortable upon arrival. Big difference, right?
Being one kind of couple versus the other doesn't make you bad people - just potentially bad hosts of a destination wedding. If you don't really care about the bells and whistles of the wedding for your guests, maybe you're a better candidate for an elopement, or a quick private ceremony back home prior to taking off on your grand world tour.
There's no rule that you have to drag 50 of your nearest and dearest thousands of miles to witness your "I Dos" if you really only care about the weeks after the big day. Nobody will be offended. Some of them will appreciate it. That's the most common modern-day use of the formal "wedding announcement" card that was traditionally sent to people who weren't close enough to actually be invited but who cared about the marrying couple.
You can plan to have somebody mail the wedding announcements the day you get married and when you return from your around-the-world cruise or whatever, you'll have a pile of well wishes and probably gifts waiting for you.
Brides and grooms who are more focused on their guests often blow their budgets spoiling their friends rotten. These couples often postpone their honeymoon til their first anniversaries so that they can afford to treat their guests to a welcome party, a beach party or rehearsal dinner, and a fabulous wedding reception on the big day. They do have a choice - they could have lower bar levels and Dutch-treat welcome gatherings and skip the wedding favors altogether and nobody would think badly of them for it - but they WANT to give their guests an amazing weekend. And they spend as much as they can possibly afford to make it perfect for everybody else.
Not surprising, the more giving and generous brides and grooms usually forget to put themselves on the welcome bag delivery list, not even thinking to spoil themselves the same way they're spoiling the rest of their guests. We always fix that right away! But it's telling of the kind of personalities we're dealing with - they think of others first as a general way of living their lives.
How can you achieve a happy medium between being selfish and overly generous when you're making your wedding plans? Follow these five guidelines when you're planning your wedding:
1. If you're taking your honeymoon money out of your wedding budget, it shouldn't be more than 20 percent of the total amount. Otherwise, you need to rethink the size of your guest list and how much priority you're giving your honeymoon. If the honeymoon is more important - own it and move on. But don't drag everybody to a destination so they can pay for everything when they arrive. That's in poor taste.
2. You should be choosing things you like for your wedding - not just choosing the things you feel your parents or friends would EXPECT you to give them. You don't have to skip a rum cake because there's one recovering alcoholic in the group of 60. Nor do you have to offer a whole separate vegan cake just because one family member keeps a strict diet. A fear of shellfish or nut allergies shouldn't plague your catering decisions unless the bride and groom have the allergies themselves. People live with these challenges and they'll work around them - they know to ask before putting food in their mouths. Doubling your budget to offer bountiful options for every type of eater really won't help anything but your conscience and nobody expects it of you.
3. Some of your guests won't be able to attend a destination wedding because of the expense. That doesn't mean it's your job to pick up their travel and accommodations tab for them because you feel guilty about it. As soon as you start that, it's a slippery slope. If you must help a specific friend and having them there is critical to you, do so discreetly and tell no one. You aren't obligated to pay for any of the travel or accommodations for a destination wedding any more than you would if you were getting married at home and inviting guests from out of town. The cost of carrying expenses for a few guests equals the cost of a reasonable honeymoon for the bride and groom.
4. Adults-only weddings are popular for destinations because it gives the guests a break from what they have every day at home. When you invite children, you pay for them by the head too. They do count as people, contrary to what many brides and grooms think. If you've asked your guests to leave their children at home, most of them will make child-care arrangements without a complaint. If somebody brings their child anyway, your only obligation is to ask your wedding planner to provide babysitting options for the guests - and let them take care of it themselves. You don't have to pay for babysitters for people too selfish to honor your invitation request. The fact that they expect it is a reflection on them, not on the bride and groom.
5. When you're budget challenged, look at what you're paying for and make tough decisions. While filling up welcome bags with cocktail fixings and snacks is fun, it adds up quickly. And although everybody loves the idea of a wedding that goes all night like in Mamma Mia, the reality is that most weddings run an average of five hours and extending the time costs you a ton of money. The desire to be "different" from everybody else can also drive your budget into the sky - if what you want isn't available where you're getting married, maybe you shouldn't have it at your wedding.
At the end of the day, ask yourselves if you've provided everything that other couples have provided to you when you attended their out of town weddings. If the answer is yes (and probably more), it's okay to stop gilding the lily at that point. If the answer is no, you either need to put more money in the pot, invite fewer guests, scale back that honeymoon, or do away with the big destination wedding plan altogether.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques!
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