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.
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!