"If you choose to get married overseas, don’t expect people to come."

I recently received an invitation to the overseas wedding of a close family member.

The couple does not live overseas, nor do they have any connection with the country in which they are marrying. The invitation came with a note of recommendations for very expensive accommodation, and another note which explained that children are not welcome.

In order for us to go we would not only need to shell out a lot of money which we simply don’t have, but we would also need to either leave our children in Australia with a babysitter, or leave them in a hotel room with a complete stranger in a foreign country. Neither we, nor our children are comfortable with either of those options. We toyed with the idea of just me going and my husband staying home with the kids; however I’d be gone for at least three days. This would mean my husband would need to take three days of annual leave in order to care for the children, or work from home which wouldn’t be fair on either his employer or the kids, as neither would be getting enough of his attention.

Kelly James and Son feat fb
Kelly and her son (Image: Supplied)

Even though the expense of attending their wedding would put my family in a financially precarious situation, my relatives are clearly upset by our declination of their invitation. I have not received any kind of response from them, not even a text to say “That’s okay, we understand”. I should mention that I felt absolutely sick in the lead up to declining as they have made their displeasure at others’ inability to go very clear, even though they have made it extremely difficult for people to get there, especially those with kids.

Just as fashion changes with the season, so to do wedding trends change over time. Fifty years ago, a church was essential, the bride’s father paid for everything, and guests bought the newlyweds the items they would need in their new, shared home. In the past few decades, there has been the added option of a civil ceremony instead of a religious service, couples tend to pay for their own weddings, and gifts moved on to registries, or monetary contributions to the couple’s “wishing well” (often funding their honeymoon). Of course, if you wanted an inexpensive or low-key wedding there has always been the option of eloping overseas or getting married in a registry office. Lately though, I’ve noticed a trend of couples choosing to get married overseas, but they’re not eloping. No, the invitations are coming out in their fancy bespoke envelopes, and they expect guests to show up as though the wedding is being hosted at the local golf club, and doesn’t require a passport, leave booked with work, a visa, flights, and accommodation to be there.


I can absolutely understand that weddings are expensive; in fact, I personally married my husband at the registry office with two witnesses in attendance. So it’s no surprise to me that couples planning to tie the knot want to find ways to do it without needing to shell out the price of a luxury car on that one special day. I’m sure that the overseas wedding seems the perfect way to do it, with many foreign countries offering enticingly affordable wedding packages that make planning a wedding on home soil seem like highway robbery. Here’s the thing though: it’s cheap for you because your guests are subsidising your nuptials. The money you’re saving by getting married overseas is money your guests have to fork out just to attend.

Destination wedding istock 1
“The money you’re saving by getting married overseas is money your guests have to fork out just to attend.” (Image: iStock)

I know that every soon-to-be-married couple thinks that nothing is as important as their upcoming wedding. I hear you saying, “If our guests care about us, they will be happy to make the trip”, and “plus they get a holiday out of it!” No, no, no. Your wedding just isn’t that special to everyone else. The destination you have chosen for your wedding isn’t necessarily somewhere your guests are just dying to go, and they are unlikely to be grateful to you for making them take a “holiday” they didn’t want in the first place. In fact, they’ll probably be pretty ticked off at having to use up their own precious annual leave and money on a wedding where they most likely can’t even drink the water.

So you do you, and get married in whichever way you please. Just remember that if you choose to have a destination wedding, not everyone you invite will be able to make it and that is okay. A wedding is not worth destroying relationships over.

As for the guests that do make it, be grateful for the effort they have made and provide them with a good open bar as thanks. They will appreciate it.

Kelly James is a writer inspired by life who recently packed up her husband, three children, two cats, and dog and moved them from regional Victoria to the sunny city of Brisvegas.

Blog link:

Instagram: kelly_elizabeth_james

The award-winning podcast Mamamia Out Loud is doing their first live show. There will be laughs, disagreements and you can meet the hosts afterwards! We’re also donating $5 of every ticket price to Share The Dignity so grab your friends and come along to share the love and laughs, get your tickets here.