Why you should help pay for guests at your destination wedding

It's your perfect day, not everyone else's.
It's your perfect day, not everyone else's. Photo: Shutterstock

Is it acceptable to not attend a wedding if it's going to be too costly?

There's a lot of pressure to have the perfect wedding and guests can be expected to travel far and wide to share in the happy moment.

And while being invited to a couple's wedding is a great privilege, what happens when you simply can't afford to attend?

I've had to turn down a couple of wedding invitations because I couldn't take the time off work nor did I have the money to pay for flights.

To this day, I still feel sad for missing out on what looked like beautiful moments, guilty for not making it happen, and I'm sure it impacted on my relationships with the couples' in question.

But I'd still make the same decision today, if faced with the same predicament.

Destination weddings are expensive for everyone and they really should be subsidised by the bride and groom. If you want to stand barefoot on a beach in Thailand surrounded by your closest friends, then you should help foot the cost.

And it gets messier when your guests have children.

For our family of five to jump on even an interstate flight it'll cost us at minimum $1,000 and that's not including the cost of accommodation. As my husband and I are freelancers, it also means we don't get holiday pay and we can't earn any money, which we need to pay our bills. And if you leave the children at home, to cut costs, finding someone to look after three kids is near impossible.

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What often happens, is one of us travels alone. But when it comes to a mutual friend or family member then the decision of who goes gets really hard.

The question was raised recently on parenting forum Mumsnet. One woman asked:

"(My husband's) sibling is recently engaged and they have decided to get married in a v far away destination in 2019," she wrote.

"We've done the sums and could just afford it but would have to sacrifice a lot over the next 12 months. We'd have to put a lot of plans (kitchen needs renovating and car needs replacing) on the back burner.

"Is it acceptable to decline a sibling's wedding invite on these grounds?"

Overwhelmingly, others on the forum agreed the women was not being unreasonable and should not attend the wedding if it would put undue financial pressure on the family. Instead, they suggested only the husband attend.

Fair enough, I say. Except, to travel a long distance would then require the husband to eat into his holiday leave and would mean he'd then have to sacrifice spending precious holiday time with his own kids. And in my opinion, time spent with your children is invaluable.

Here's the thing, something happens when you become engaged and all you can think about is making your wedding the perfect day. You are in your most selfish stage – and you should be. Weddings are wonderful. But it's your perfect day, not everyone else's.

If you decide to get married in a place that will cost your guests thousands of dollars to attend, you can't expect them to make the journey. Either you absorb the lion's share of costs or you have two ceremonies, so those who can't afford to make it can share in your love too. Guilt, pressure and relationship break-downs are not the ideal way to start a new life together. Nor is expecting others to fork out ridiculous amounts of cash.

And if someone says they can't come to your destination wedding, it's not because they don't love you, it's because they don't have the money or they'd rather spend the money on something else, which is fare enough. Often, it's that simple. And for the guest, it can be embarrassing and fill you with guilt.

So, cut them slack, pack your bags and focus on what's most important - the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with. Because in the end, it's not where you get married, it's the strength of your relationships that matters most.