In the space of just six short months, I have three weddings to attend.
While I’m super stoked that so many of my friends have actually found that special someone who finds them tolerable (I SALUTE YOU, BRAVE MENFOLK), there is one small catch – all of these weddings are overseas.
Yup, over the next half a year I am somehow expected to squeeze in – and pay for – three cheeky overseas holidays to Greece, Bali and South Africa.
In the good old days of holy matrimony, the major concerns for wedding guests were not choosing the most expensive silver salad tongs on the registry, and finding a matching lilac tie for your boyfriend. These days, you’re looking at juggling annual leave applications, personal loans, babysitters, malaria injections, 18-hour plane journeys, visas AND silver salad tongs and lilac ties. And I can’t even find my passport.
I can’t even. In general.
We’ve all been there before – friend gets engaged, friend starts planning wedding, friend decides on exotic overseas location. The excitement of plotting out all the Camilla kaftans you’re going to wear in Bali is somehow dampened by the several thousands of dollars it’s going to cost you to be there. So what is the draw of an overseas wedding, and is it just plain rude to expect your guests to attend it?
I spoke with Mandi Forrester-Jones, resident wedding expert at Worldwide Weddings – a company founded in 2003 for the sole purpose of organising destination weddings abroad. Mandi reckons there are three main drawcards for an overseas wedding (apart from Bali braids) – lower costs, competitiveness between brides, and, er, drunk uncles.
Yep, Mandi says many of her clients who are seeking a wedding abroad are doing so to create their preferred guest lists: ie. the deliberate cull of interfering parents, mooching pals and, you guessed it, drunk uncles. Genius.
So whilst Mandi raised some pretty good points – although I must admit, all of my uncles are distinctly well behaved – I thought the best person to ask would be, like, an actual bride. Making sure I had clarified my attendance first, I asked a soon-to-be-married friend why she chose a wedding overseas.
“We chose to have a wedding overseas for so many reasons,” she said. “We have the destination in common and share the tradition of the area – tradition is very important to us especially in marriage, we want to create an experience for our guests and family and friends that they will remember for life.”
Would she be offended if people (NOT ME, I REPEAT, NOT ME) didn’t come?
“For those who wont make it, some have really valid reasons. But to be honest, for those who just can’t be bothered – it’s that magical moment lost and that’s it. You can’t change that.”
Hmm. Point taken. How much would she love those who do make the effort?
“For the people that make the effort to come – they will be very special to us, this is a once in a lifetime moment. We will never forget those people that make the effort – I’ll be honest, they will be put on a pedestal. They will be more special to us, and probably strengthen our bond to them.”
HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS I GET IT. Overseas wedding are just friendship tests in disguise!
The pal mentioned above (she’s not nearly as ruthless as she sounds, FYI) and her hubby-to-be are both second-generation immigrants to Australia. Returning to their parents’ homeland, and maintaining a connection to their family’s traditions, is extremely important to both them. As it is to many. According to the ABS; in 2012, 31.3% of marriages in Australia were between two people from different countries, with only 56% of couples married in Australia being both from Australia.
This means that close to half of your engaged friends have drunk uncles overseas who are waiting to meet you. Maybe even in two different countries. Don’t wear anything low cut, ok?
So, next time you’re frowning over the 3-page resort guide liftout, from your Wedding Information Pack, that came packaged in the Save The Date parcel you received 3 years in advance for your friend’s destination wedding: spare a thought for their reasons behind their decision.
Maybe they have family over there that they want to celebrate with. Maybe they just really want to help teach you how to save your money better. Whatever. But at the end of the day, I’m equally as pissed that I’m having to organise a holiday to three beautiful overseas locations, to celebrate the weddings of people I love, in just 6 short months!
Well, when you put it like that.
Do you love or hate a destination wedding?