In a lifetime, there are only a handful of events that will really mark themselves as cornerstones in one’s journey from the beginning to the end. Unfortunately, we cannot even remember quite a few of these occurrences; like the day you were born, your first step, your first word or the first time you managed to escape out of that wretched crib only to remind your parents that sleep is just out of the question now that you’re around. Thankfully though, there are plenty that we do remember; like the day you graduated high-school, the day you bought your first car, the day you received your Bachelor’s Degree or the day you tried KFC for the first time. It is these memories that cheer you up on a rainy day and give you the push you need. Therefore, it is vital that we understand their importance and capitalize on them when given the opportunity. Luckily, your wedding day/night is undoubtably amongst the most memorable and beautiful of these cornerstones. The best part is, it is entirely up to you to make sure everything is as special as can be. However, this post isn’t about helping you plan the perfect wedding, it is about helping you turn your wedding into a unique adventure, an adventure that you, the love of your life, your families and friends can all grasp onto together.
What is a Destination Wedding?
Well before I convince you to pack your bags and stamp your passports, I do need to explain what is meant by a ‘destination wedding’ in the first place. Technically speaking, any wedding that takes place a 100 or more miles away from where the bride currently lives is known as a destination wedding; so technically speaking, you might not even need to fly out of the country. That being said, my definition is a little different; I know I am an engineer and we do love our numbers but in this case, I refuse to tie the meaning to a mere distance limit. I believe a destination wedding is one that takes place in a setting which is different to the one you currently live in, with at least a slightly different culture and cuisine.
Now I am sure you have been seeing more and more of these so-called ‘destination weddings’ recently pop up on your Facebook or Instagram pages. They often take place in heavenly, green pastures or getaway beach settings; either way, they do make for great wedding photo opportunities. So without further ado, here are five reasons you should have a destination wedding!
1. Those who matter, will show up at the alter
Weddings are meant to be special, they’re meant to be emotional and quaint; I mean don’t you wanna be surrounded with all your loved ones when you give up your life of freedom and relaxation? 😛 However, if you come from an Egyptian family like I do, your weddings invitation list will look something like this:
- Our 30 or so close and best friends
- Our immediate families
- Our extended families
- Our extended families’ extended families
- Our colleagues
- Our parents’ friends
- Our parents’ extended families
- This woman my mom spoke to once that we have to invite to not be rude
- This guy I walked past by 4 years ago but have to invite because I don’t want to be rude
- Everyone we ever went to preschool, primary school, high school or college with… and everyone they know
- The guy who knows the guy I walked by 4 years ago… can’t be rude
You get the point. This isn’t the case with Egyptians alone, many cultures have similar traditions and people can get very offended if they are not invited to a wedding, even if they barely know the couple getting married! The end result is a formality where the bride and groom spend endless hours smiling at people they never even met before.
This is all avoided with a destination wedding though; I mean feel free to invite anyone you want, but when they hear they have to take a 4 hour flight to get there, chances are they’ll politely refuse the invitation. That leaves you with those who are willing and happy to make the journey for you, and those are the people you want around you on your wedding day. However, it is worth mentioning that nothing is perfect; there will be a couple of best friends and close family members that sincerely, truly want to be there but can’t due to work or other commitments. I know I missed several people at my wedding, I wish I could look back at the photos and see them there, or find them in my memories when I reminisce over that night. That being said though, I still think I’d rather be surrounded by 50 people who are extremely dear to me, than 300 people that I barely know.
2. I think it’s apparent, your wedding will be different
I want you to think back to most of the weddings you’ve been to lately, now try to remember which one was which. I’m not saying you’ll mix up your brother’s wedding with someone else’s, but if you were just a friend, or a friend of a friend, or even that guy the groom walked by four years but had to invite, you might find yourself lost for words when I ask about the details of each one. That is because most weddings nowadays follow very similar routines.
Well, destination weddings are the perfect way to break that routine. Whether it’s on the beach in Bali, in a national park in Africa or a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, the theme of these events is to be different. Drop the formal facade, push your best man into the pool, convince your wife to push the bride’s maids into the pool then push her in; hell you better jump in too! Dance in the rain, stop worrying about your tuxedo and shoes and you better make a few inappropriate jokes in your speech; after all, remember that you’re surrounded by close friends and family only.
I understand that you can do all that without having a destination wedding, but having one makes it all so much easier. There is a curtain that drops when you are so far away from home and it becomes simpler to just let loose.
3. Don’t sell your kidney, save your money
Unless you’re a prince or lord, no one will expect you to pay for their flights or hotel rooms. They may joke about it, and you may feel awkward, but they know you don’t shit cash so don’t let it get to you. Truth is, you could end up spending 10x more on a destination wedding if you want to, but that’s not the kind of thing I’m discussing here.
If you opt for countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa, etc. for your special occasion, chances are, you’d be able to do so much more with significantly less. Instead of paying a fortune for a hotel ballroom that can fit 300 people, you can pay a fraction of the cost for a beautiful garden only meters away from the Indian Ocean. With less guests, you also get to save on food and drinks. Through my experience, I found that DJs, videographers, photographers and wedding planners also have more competitive rates in these regions. Even with all the extras of my wedding (which I’ll be discussing in the next point), I still managed to pay about one third of what I would’ve paid if I had held my wedding in my resident country.
4. To stay relevant, involve an elephant
I’m not gonna lie to you, when people ask me why I chose Sri Lanka for my wedding, I often resort to a long poetic answer about beaches, culture and fresh air. Truth is though, a few years ago I came across my friend’s wedding pictures, she rode in with her groom on an… elephant. I looked at those pictures and said to myself, I want that. So I went out there, found myself a bride, talked her into considering Sri Lanka, subtly brought up the elephant, found out her dress won’t allow her to get on the elephant, discovered that in Sri Lankan culture only the grooms ride the elephant and next thing you know… boom!
Honestly though, it was epic! And to go back to point 2, it was hella different. It doesn’t stop there either, we also had a Sri Lankan dance crew follow us to our first dance, invited all the guests to light sky lanterns as we watched them fly away into the night sky (except for a couple that failed and almost burnt the hotel down) and even had our own fireworks show by the beach. What I’m trying to say here is that even if you do not choose Sri Lanka; with destination weddings, you have the choice to tap into the country’s culture and incorporate activities into your night that otherwise would’ve been impossible. Not only will the guests love it, but you’re guaranteed to remember these moments for the rest of your life.
5. For the real treasure, turn it into an adventure
Now, you’ve got somewhere between 50 to 100 of your favorite people flying out to a cool country for your wedding… so why stop there? Why not turn it into a week-long adventure as opposed to just a single night? In my case for example, I got a huge bus for the entire family, and then my friends split up into smaller groups, each with their own cars. We started off in Colombo and toured all around Sri Lanka, to know more about this adventure, check out my blog post on Sri Lanka’s 8 Day Adventure Itinerary.
Picture this, your family, soon-to-be wife’s family and all your close friends touring around a foreign country together, and then ending it with the most magical night of your lives… I ain’t getting paid to advertise destination weddings here but damn I deserve to be!
Seriously though, I know there are many obstacles; it might be family, traditions, work, etc. I’m not saying everyone can manage to have a destination wedding, and I’m definitely not saying that regular weddings aren’t special; regardless of where you have it guys, the night you and your life-partner become one will be amongst the most memorable to you. However, if you do manage to break the norms, then do go crazy and choose a destination far away from your home country, I’ve already given you five good reasons why you should! If you can think of anything else though, please do mention them in the comments section below.