Carolyn Hax: Couple propose beach wedding as ‘vacation’ for guests


Caroline Hackes is far away. The following first appeared on August 1, 2008.

Dear Caroline: My four year old girlfriend and I are in the initial stages of planning our wedding. We want a one-of-a-kind wedding, but nothing grand or flashy; We want our important family members there; And we want to make decisions when it comes to most of the details.

We both have always dreamed of having our wedding on the beach. We moved to Florida one year ago so I could get into graduate school. We both come from a town in Michigan, where she still lives all of her family and most of my family.

I love to have family and friends for days. Why hold a casual wedding when we can really be creative and make this event especially memorable for everyone involved?

But there are problems. Her grandparents wouldn’t be able to attend (immobile), and they probably wouldn’t be able to attend either. It will be a financial burden on my girlfriend’s family in the future. They also prefer (strongly) that we be married to a priest, to whom I say: “Impossible.” We are both atheists.

For financial concerns, I have two potential antidotes: encouraging people not to give a gift, treating themselves to a mini vacation in Florida instead, and paying for the wedding ourselves, which means the only cost to everyone will be the flight, hotel and miscellaneous costs. I see an opportunity for an exceptional wedding. Is this selfish? What do you think we should do?

j: Here’s what your guests hope you’ll do, even if they don’t know it themselves yet: Add flights, hotels, ground transportation, meals, and all the other costs that triple when you’re away from home, then compare that to the $50-100 most cost-conscious people would spend ( fairly generously) on your wedding gift. Then take a few turns, and imagine you’ve set aside two weeks of paid time off from work. Now imagine that you tend to spend those weeks, I don’t know, strolling in your garden, snowshoeing, or hanging out in Paris cafes.

Now imagine a relative asking you to spend half of your annual vacation in Florida on their idea of ​​the vacation of your dreams - a “unique, creative and unforgettable” celebration for themselves. I say this without bitterness. No close family member ever forced me to choose between missing out on a family event or paying extra savings and personal time. But those two commodities are precious, and people can’t afford to be asked to give either of them away just because a midwestern backyard wedding doesn’t look as special as the couple fancy.

If you want to get married on the beach, then marry on the beach; It’s your home now, after all, and your money. Of course, your atheism makes the priest’s case a non-issue.

Just know that your dream will hurt some important family members, no matter how you justify it. Not only grandparents, but also those who resent being asked to choose between paying dearly or getting lost.

If background is more important than family presence, then run away and get a reception in Michigan later. If family is more important, save the beach for your honeymoon. And if you want it all, be prepared to pay travel expenses for everyone, or learn this most valuable skill: how to say no to yourself.