This is part of my destination wedding etiquette Q&A series where I answer reader-submitted questions.
Destination Wedding Etiquette Question Submitted by Carrie
“My fiance and I have been engaged for a few months and are planning to get married in a simple ceremony on a tropical island on our Thanksgiving Break from school (we are both college professors).
We have no desire to plan any events and frankly would like to be alone for our trip but don’t want to hurt the feelings of our family and friends who are asking where and when we will be tying the knot. The timing of our wedding works for us, but likely not for anyone else, and it will be somewhat last minute and pricey to get to.
How can we tell them tactfully when and where we will be going, but also that we don’t expect them to come, will be planning no “events” and that there is no need for them to give gifts?”
Cynthia @ Destination Wedding Details Says:
Congratulations on your engagement!! I hope that you enjoy every second of this amazing moment in your life. I know first hand how difficult it can be to deal with family expectations when you make the decision to break tradition.
Weddings have traditionally been a social function which family and friends feel entitled to be a part of. But times have changed and you are not alone in your decision to run off and do things your way.
Have you considered just going off to get married and announcing it after the fact (i.e. Eloping)? Only you know how your family and friends would react but that’s definitely an option that would save you the trouble of explaining why you’re having a wedding without guests. You could send announcements after the fact – here’s some wording that would be appropriate and addresses gifts in a tactful way:
“Time moves quickly and
So does Life
We were so eager
To be husband and wife
Our days were filled,
Our schedules too
So we ran off and said our
I do’s in the amazing island of Aruba!
Our wedding vacation gave us memories
that will last a lifetime and the
greatest gift we’d like to receive
are your well wishes.”
If you decide to go this route, make sure you check out the real destination elopement photos and stories we’ve featured right here on DWD to get inspiration!
Now, if tying the knot in secrecy is not an option, you can let everyone know a few weeks before, and explain it the same way you did in your note to me.
The reasons you explained to me are very valid and understandable. To avoid hurt feelings, I would just leave out the part about you “wanting to be alone for your trip” 🙂
You can say something like, “We’ve both thought about it and decided that a big hometown wedding is not for us – it’s not our style or how we envision starting off your new lives. Our dream is to have a romantic, intimate ceremony and honeymoon on a tropical island. But because of our busy schedules, the only time that will work is the Thanksgiving break. We don’t want to inconvenience anyone and make them feel obligated to travel during the busiest and most expensive time of the year. So we’ve made the decision to just have a private ceremony without guests. The greatest gift anyone can give us is to be understanding of our decision and wish us the best.” Then after the wedding, send an announcement like the one I suggested before.
They might be a little hurt (and miffed) at first but if they love you, they will get over it and ultimately understand that it was the best option for you.
This could be a tough thing to communicate so you have to be mentally prepared for the backlash that could come with it. Don’t let it bring you down and just remember that even if you had a big hometown wedding with 300 guests, people will still find a reason to criticize. It is the nature of weddings to bring out the critics in people.
Everyone seems to forget that it’s the quality of the marriage that counts, not how big the one-day wedding celebration is. I think that what you are planning is fantastic, romantic and you will not regret it.
Whether you announce it before or after the fact, take lots of pictures and bring them home to share with family and friends. I would also love to see them! 🙂
I wish you a lifetime of happiness and congratulations once again!