Wedding woe: destination wedding

Last updated 13:11 08/06/2012

Today's wedding woe comes from Clara, who asks:

Hi Greer,

Here's another wedding woe for you - the destination wedding. My fiancé and I still haven't set a date (some time next year) and the guest list is annoying us both! We were thinking about inviting a few close friends and family (hence getting rid of most of the people on our guest list haha) and telling them we were going to go to Rarotonga (or any other suitable location - yet to be decided) to get married on this date, and we would love it if they came.

Have any other brides chosen a destination wedding, where did they go and how many of their friends/family attended?  Did they think it was better getting married overseas or at home in NZ?



Nipping over to the Pacific Islands to tie the knot is an increasingly popular choice for many Kiwis.

It's not hard to see why: warmer climate, calmer lifestyle, beautiful surroundings and potentially a smaller number of people to deal with, thereby ensuring the people who made the effort to be there *really* wanted to be there for you. destination

Getting married overseas isn't for everyone though, and like most wedding-related issues, there are tonnes of hints and tips out there for anyone who think it might be for them.

Now I haven't been to a destination wedding before, but I know people who have and I've kind of collated their feedback into a list of common issues:

- Not enough notice

It's a great idea to think you can keep numbers down by having the wedding overseas, but what if no one can make it? Obviously it depends on how expensive it will be for guests to travel to, but if you are asking guests to make the effort, the least you can do is give them enough warning to save funds or get holiday deals.

- Make sure it's worth it!

Nothing is worse than going to all that effort and spending all that cash... only to find out you're not even legally married at the end of the day.


Most places, especially locations that are known "wedding spots", have heaps of handy advice in terms of the paperwork.

- Think of the guests

Yes, you might be having a destination wedding so you have fewer guests, but think of who those people are going to be. This includes considering if a guest may be pregnant and can't travel (will you be OK with not having your sister or best friend there because they're up the duff?). Also, it's worth itt to consider the oldies. Will Grandad like the 35-degree heat in Samoa? Are older guests in good enough health to travel internationally?

- Trying to save money? Think again

A lot of people say they've eloped or had a destination wedding to "save costs". Unfortunately, depending on what you sign up for, it *can* actually end up costing you just as much, if not more, than an "at home" wedding. I cost is your driver, remember that just because it's in a different currency, it doesn't mean it's cheaper.

- Get to know your destination

Because you're not a local, make sure you triple check what local events or holidays are on at the time. Imagine someone coming to Wellington for a destination wedding during the Sevens (OK, I know, just imagine someone having a Wellington destination wedding full stop - hey! It happens!). This means getting to know your hotel/ceremony location more than how they present on their official website. Trip Advisor is good for this. Also see what other people say about the place and ask friends and family who may have visited also. You do not want to sign up to a dud deal!

- You want a smaller wedding, but wait...

Some people think that by having your wedding overseas, you do a scattergun approach to inviting people - "Hey! Who wants to come?!" - and assume that only a handful of them actually will. Be warned: What if every single one of them decides to make the trip? Suddenly your small, intimate, faraway-land wedding has blown out to be a biggie. A long way from home. Eep!

- Holidaying with the in-laws. Woot!

So you've made all this effort to go to this lovely place and now you're going to extend the trip and have a honeymoon there too. Great! Just be wary of friends and family who may choose to do the same. This won't bother everyone, but those wanting some chill-out time to bask in their new marital status - without the company of others - may want to think of an alternative plan when it comes to getting away from it all.

What advice do you have in terms of destination weddings? Have you been to one or held one yourself? What worked and what didn't?

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Jennine   #1   01:17 pm Jun 08 2012

We thought about going to Fiji for our wedding but couldn't justify asking friends and family to spend $3,500 just for 4 days. The wedding may be cheaper but it's the associated costs that need to be taken into consideration.

noodle   #2   01:27 pm Jun 08 2012

My aunty got married in Rarotonga as that's where she's from (so it did work out cheaper for her because when family owns 5 star accomodation and event areas one makes the most of it, yes?) and there ended up being quite a few of us over there, probably around 50? Being a teenager at the time I was quite fortunte that all I had to pay for was my airfares and the accomodation and food was paid for by my parents/family so I can't really vouch for the general expense, but I think my parents spent around $5,000 in total (but they also stayed for longer and in a seperate hotel on the other side of the island) compared to my $800.

I personally had an amazing time, it was probably the best wedding I've been to (don't tell my other aunties that tho..!)

FW   #3   01:29 pm Jun 08 2012

Jennine has a great point - one of the most relevant to me. I don't want to impose compulsory costs on my guests.

Sheelagh   #4   01:33 pm Jun 08 2012

We got married on the goldcoast, as we have some family there - and went through an all-inclusive wedding service provider. They coordinated the beach wedding along with a back-up plan, the hair and makeup (her day job is home and away hair and makeup), the photographer (ready next day to take away) and the chauffer. Did I mention the flowers, music, champagne, cake, celebrant and paperwork. All we had to do was show up! It was through australian dream weddings - I can't recommend enough. Would do it like that again, as it was no stress!

Alice   #5   01:37 pm Jun 08 2012

Destination weddings don't just happen overseas... (think Wanaka, Queenstown etc).

Even the nationally based destination holidays mount up costs...

dolly   #6   01:38 pm Jun 08 2012

We got married in Rarotonga last September and gave all our friends and family 14months notice. We had 50 people make the trip and it was amazing! Yes - we were holidaying with everyone pretty much but noone was staying where we were (and also got married). The island is small so we felt like celebrities almost as we bumped into people we knew everywhere. We didnt do it to save money, we got married in Raro because we both love it over there and have holidayed there a few time. The weather was amazing, people very friendly and everyone had an amazing holiday. It was great that so many people invested in coming over, with this we did not expect presents or expect everyone to make it. You may have to pay more on something, but can save in others too - we didnt wear shoes (thats like a $1000 saving at least for bridemaids, bride, grooms and best men). We really enjoyed it!! Best day and holiday ever, would totally do it all again.

Jessica   #7   01:42 pm Jun 08 2012

I think it is really rude to expect others to fork out $$$ just to go to your wedding when it could just as easily be down the street. You might think you do, but you often don't really know what financial situation your guests are in, and imagine if a close family member couldn't afford the trip but felt really pressured to be there.

I say have your honeymoon in the islands but keep your wedding close to home. Or else, expect some people you really wnated to be there, to say no.

Kaz   #8   01:48 pm Jun 08 2012

We got married in Fiji about 6 years ago. It was fantastic, we had been together for 9 years and already had 2 kids, so decided that a holiday was needed. We went for about 9 days. There was 27 people including friends and family who came with us. Everyone had a fantastic time and are still talking about it. We stayed in a resort that did the all inclusive accommodation so guests knew how much it was going to cost them, great for those on a budget. We gave everyone 6 months advance notice, which also helped with the budgeting. We all managed to get cheap flights as well, yay.

Marcia   #9   01:52 pm Jun 08 2012

We have decided to go to Samoa to get married after seeing a wedding at the resort we visited last year. Having all our friends and family enjoying a great facility together really excited us. We weighed up the costs and it is going to be about the same either here in NZ or over there expect we are in Samoa on a holiday almost. We have given plenty of time as the wedding is not til March 2014. Guests have ample time to save if they want to join us and we have offered/suggested options and calculations such as a small automatic payment directly to the travel agent. It is a big ask of friends and family to pay to go over but for some it is a welcome excuse. Best advise we have been given is not to take it personally when some people decline for what ever reasons. We have also set up a website with all relevant information and specials for everyone to be kept updated with.

bb   #10   01:59 pm Jun 08 2012

I have been to one destination wedding in Fiji a couple of years ago. My partner was invited to be a groomsman when someone else pulled out so we felt like we couldn't say no, in hindsight I wish we had. It was a huge amount of money (about $3,500 all up) to spend on someone elses wedding. Sure we had a holiday but Fiji is not a destination we would choose to go to ourselves. Personally, I would never expect my family and friends to spend that much money on us - and there are some close family and friends who wouldn't be able to afford to go. It's more important to me to have the most important people in our lives with us on our day.

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