We want guests to pay their way at our overseas wedding – are we in the wrong?
With wedding season underway, Metro.co.uk has roped in Alison Rios McCrone, venue owner and planner, to help solve your dilemmas in a weekly agony aunt column…
Are my wife-to-be and I being unfair? All our friends and family seem to think so.
We’ve planned a destination wedding for next year in Italy, where we met.
We’re spending a pretty penny on it – it’s going to take place over four days, with plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy – and we’re both genuinely really excited to celebrate with our favourite people (around 80 guests).
As soon as we started sending out invites, however, we noticed people getting a little bit shifty and uncomfortable.
It’s taken us a couple of months to find out why, and it’s because we’re not paying for people’s flights, accommodation, transport to and from the wedding, alcohol once there, and we’re asking people to chip in for some of the more pricey activities – like the wine tastings.
I get that it’s not going to be cheap for guests to come, but it’s not cheap for us either! Plus, they’d spend the same amount on a mini break so why are they complaining about this, which I can guarantee will be more fun?
We’re adamant we’re right, but it’s caused a bit of tension with the people we actually want to celebrate with.
Are my fiancée and I really in the wrong?
Do you have a wedding problem you need some advice on?
Weddings are joyful occasions – but they’re also incredibly stressful. Whether you’re a bride or groom, best woman or man, family member or friend of the couple, the run up to the big day can be very tense.
If you need a bit of help with your quandary, Alison, who has run a venue for 10 years and helps couples plan weddings, is here to offer a helping hand.
Email [email protected] to share your issue anonymously with Alison and get it solved.
Thank you for writing to me about your concerns about your wedding.
Firstly, let me be clear – no one is right or wrong in this situation.
When you and your partner decided on an overseas wedding in Italy, it was the choice you wanted to make. Especially as it was the country where you both met. It clearly has an emotional connection for you both.
It is your wedding, and it is your choice.
But it is also a choice for your guests whether to spend the large sums required – and remember they might not be able to.
It’s important to remember that every decision in the build-up to your wedding will only please some, and you should not try to please everyone, instead prioritising your own desires for the most part.
However, weddings are nothing without guests, and it is essential to consider their perspectives.
Anyone organising their special day needs to keep in mind that once you have booked the venue and set the date, not everyone can attend, no matter where it is.
It is essential for you to have this as a realistic expectation.
You mentioned you have already sent out invitations, which is great. That gives your guests plenty of time to book flights, arrange time off work and, perhaps most importantly, save money.
This should allow as many of your invited guests to attend as possible, but you shouldn’t expect 100% of them to do so.
Italy is beautiful, and some may use it as part of their annual holiday and plan to stay longer to go and explore the country, but you shouldn’t automatically assume this will be the case. Aside from finances, they may have other weddings to attend in that period, limited annual leave, childcare concerns etc.
Again, whether your wedding is at home or abroad, please remember everyone has different financial resources and commitments.
What is reasonable to you and your fiancée could be excessive or too expensive for some guests.
Flights, accommodation, transport, and additional expenses can soon add up, not least if the experience is as action-packed as you say.
Traditionally, weddings do include some expenses covered by the couple, such as the venue on the day of the wedding, food, and some drinks during the wedding day.
Ensure you are transparent with your guests about what is included and what isn’t – and be understanding when some of those invited can’t afford it.
You mention your wedding is over four days, but you need to be sensitive to the fact that some of your guests may only be able to attend the actual wedding itself. For those that do come for multiple days, it is imperative that you don’t try and make the paid-for activities mandatory and let your loved ones know as such.
You may feel your destination wedding will be more fun and memorable, but other guests may prefer a different type of holiday. It is important to understand this and not be offended.
Give guests the option to RSVP to each event.
Be aware that family and friends won’t be setting out to offend you – listen to their concerns about cost and see if there are ways to solve them. Perhaps you can cut back on some aspects of your wedding to help fund the activities guests would otherwise have to pay for.
You could do away with wedding favours or say you do not expect a gift but would appreciate contributions to the activities instead.
It definitely should not be an expectation that you cover flights and all accommodation for everyone, or you have to cover the transportation costs as long as you are clear on what is included and give information to help everyone make the most of it.
Set up a website that helps your guests with local information and contact details for local taxis, hire car companies, accommodation close to the wedding venue, activities to do while staying in the area, and dining options if staying longer. These options should suit a range of budgets.
I’d also suggest that you arrange a less formal gathering to include anyone unable to attend when you return.
It is important to remember that your wedding should be a fun occasion for everyone.
Finding a balance that respects your vision while considering the financial and emotional well-being of your loved ones will help to find a happy outcome for everyone.
Good luck with your wedding planning, and I hope you find solutions that help your guests and allow the excitement for your wedding to build, for you, your bride-to-be, and those who will attend.
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