This Motherhood Journey

Destination Weddings Are Not Selfish!


It’s been almost 6 years since I married my husband in Hawaii. As most know, we reside in Vancouver Canada, which made our nuptials a Destination Wedding. Destination Weddings are becoming more and more common these days, with many couples opting to tie the knot in places like Mexico, the Caribbean and on Cruise Lines. What may not be commonly known is that I received some negativity for choosing this kind of wedding.

We didn’t originally plan to get married abroad. When my fiancee and I became engaged, he was living in Ontario (along with the majority of his family) and I was on the West Coast of Canada. We knew we would be living in the Vancouver area and researched various venues and retailers for things like flowers, photography, and reception sites. What shocked us was the price tag! The average wedding in my city was quoted to be about $30,000! I was working as a Special Education assistant and he was fresh out of University – we did not have those kind of funds!

When we looked at our options, we knew we could go one of three ways: Suck it up and spend the money on what’s considered a ‘dream wedding’ at a high priced venue, go as cheap as possible at home, or have a destination wedding. We felt like a destination wedding had the best of both worlds. It provided a beautiful back drop to say I-Do, fit into our budget and cut down some of the wedding expectations.

When I say wedding expectations, here’s what I mean. At the time, many of my girlfriends were getting married. Everyone was always talking about the price of so and so’s dress, how many guests they had invited and how big the diamond ring was. This irritated me! This was not what marriage was suppose to be about! I didn’t want my wedding to be known as a party, with people rating the food, venue and how glamorous I looked. It may be how some people envision their special day, but not me. I had spent two and a half years in a long distance relationship with my soon to be groom and I just wanted to be his wife. I didn’t care about the rest of it. We had even considered eloping in Greece; just the two of us!

I got some heat for it. I had one person tell me that they would never allow their daughter to behave so selfishly. That one made me cry. Another told me that I couldn’t possibly expect everyone I knew to fly to the vacation of my choosing. Of course I didn’t expect that! Our closest friends and relatives supported us 100%, which showed me that I was surrounding myself with the right people. If they could make it, great. If they couldn’t, we’d see them once home. I had zero expectations for who would join us.

In the effort to include those who couldn’t afford to travel with us, we planned a more simple reception at home for after the real wedding. We spent approximately $2000 on it and everyone left well fed and with photos of me in my dress. On our actual wedding day on the Big Island of Hawaii, there were 36 people. We spent a week with those loved ones, sitting by the pool, seeing the sights and laughing together at the airport.

The wedding day was everything I imagined it to be; My father conducted the ceremony, we were married outdoors, and it was sunny and tropical. Our immediate family were all there, along with a few close friends and most importantly, the man that I loved.

The Wedding Party (and immediate family)
The Wedding Party (and immediate family)

What was the cost? $10,000. That included all our wedding gear, the ceremony and reception, photographer, two weeks worth of travel expenses, and flowers. I did my own hair and make up, and we didn’t travel in a fancy vehicle from place to place. Our families did help us out a bit, but that further helped us with other expenses outside of the wedding itself and the reception back home.

The bottom line? No regrets. If I could marry my husband all over again tomorrow I would do it the same way. I know this isn’t for everyone. I know some girls dream of having a lavish wedding and I am in no way faulting you for that. I’ve had the privilege of attending some really beautiful ceremonies and receptions that balanced party with purpose perfectly. What I am saying, is that the bride and groom should be able to have their wedding as they see it, whether that means hundreds of people, a small backyard do, or a destination wedding. Everyone else should just smile, offer congratulations, and consider yourself lucky if you receive an invite!




  • Louise

    Our wedding total was $5000.00. Dress, suit, rings, food, photographer etc. If I were to do it again, I would spend more on the photographer (ha!) and get my hair done. However, it was still the best day of my life and we were able to put down a bigger down payment on our first home 6 months later 🙂

      • momentsinmommyland

        Thanks Louise! And I’m with you there – if I changed ONE thing about my wedding, it’d be to hire a better photographer. We only booked this guy for 2 hours total and it was at the last minute!

  • Sarah

    I have never been one to want to get married. Still don’t really believe in it all but that’s just me. I have once told my friends that if I did get married, it’d probably be impulsive and I’d probably elope. My closest friends could all see me doing that. I think that at the end of the day, you just have to do what is right for you. Your wedding is yours, not theirs. If it’s right for you and your partner, then that should be all that matters.

  • Jenn

    Your wedding was perfect! I’ve told your tale dozens of times as a She-had-the-right-idea! For as long as I can remember I’ve said I’m not the marrying kind. Now I’m engaged and know I want the marriage but dont need the party or debt. Good for you for following your heart!

  • Beth

    We certainly would’ve had a destination wedding if we could’ve! We did really have a great wedding that suited us, though. Bear Creek Park, close friends, homemade dessert reception, the total was about that same as 1 months rent, which was perfect for us. Maybe our 10 year anniversary or something we’ll destination it up for vow renewals or something!

    Your wedding looked so beautiful, and absolutely true to you.

  • Tara

    Good for you for doing what you wanted, and how you wanted. It’s “your day” and spending how you did gives you an amazing vacation to look back on! We eloped, got married by Elvis in Las Vegas, and just sent out a link for everyone to watch live on the internet. My way, trip of a lifetime, no regrets! Congrats again, it looked lovely!

  • sabina edwards

    sounds like you have happy memories of your wedding and that’s what counts. I don’t even remember mine, I think I was in a total daze and it cost about $1300 24yrs ago.

  • Jena

    Wow. That’s a pretty remarkable price difference. If we’d wanted to spend anywhere near that one a wedding, we would’ve considered a destination wedding, too. My hubby & I did the long distance thing, too, for years. The we experienced a border crossing kerfuffle which didn’t allow us to see each other for 11 months. (I’m from Ohio, he’s from BC.) Finally found a lawyer to help with paperwork and he called me up in November and said, “Want to get married before Christmas?” We were going to just do the Vegas thing, but that seemed sad for my parents, who wouldn’t have been able to attend (my dad works for a major delivery company–take a day off in December?! Ha!), so we instead got married in my parents’ living room. We had flowers and a photographer, and went out to dinner afterward. Total family & friends in attendance? 8. Total cost? I don’t know–my parents paid for flowers, photographer & dinner. I’d guess it was around $500, including my $60 dress (a cute red party dress). Now, if you were to include the weeks-long road trip honeymoon in that estimation–including a new engine for our Westy–well, that’d be a lot more.

    • momentsinmommyland

      Wow! Now that’s coming in under budget Jena haha. I know several people who chose to do fairly low key weddings and instead put the money towards purchasing a house or taking a nice honeymoon. I think whatever makes the couple happy is the way to go 🙂

  • GH

    we did a destination in Cuba in ’06. Best choice ever, and even though I got heat for being “selfish” as well, I wouldn’t change a thing! What’s selfish are those who think you should cater to their expectations! It’s your day, your money and therefore your choice 🙂

  • Gigi lock

    The biggest obstacle for destination weddings is the cost for invited guests to attend. Some can, some cant. I suppose it depends on what is more important to you, having your loved ones and close friends share in the special event with you, or your wedding/honeymoon. When mom, grandma, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins and many friends can’t afford to go, they miss out. But when most of the invites can afford it, great.

    • momentsinmommyland

      That’s why we did a little at home reception for our relatives. I come from a massive family – I’m talking 40+ cousins on each side. Interestingly enough, about ten people ‘forgot’ to come to that reception after RSVPing to attend that. I’m thankful we were only out $20 a head vs $60 had they been invited to the actual wedding. Our wedding was about our marriage, not about the audience.

  • Chandra O’Connor

    It was the opposite for My daughter who couldn’t go to one of her good friends weddings, they had a baby and just couldn’t afford it. My daughter felt so bad and apologized over and over. The bride to be called my daughter selfish, and a few other things not worth mentioning, and they now don’t speak.

    • momentsinmommyland

      Wow! That’s awful! There should be no expectation in regards to people coming in a situation like this, especially when someone has a new baby! I actually offered to help a few friends with the expenses of coming. Some still didn’t want to go, and that was completely their decision.

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