Destination Wedding - How Do I Tell My Sister Probably Not?

Updated on October 18, 2011
M.D. asks from Washington, DC
29 answers

My younger sister wants to get married in St. Lucia. For my family of 5 to go, it will be almost $6k for only 5 days. I told her yes, before I knew the cost. I cannot do that without hurting my budget, even thoguh we have 18 months to plan. We have to pay down our debt and I can't pay for that trip AND pay down my debt. My parents are saying the same thing. Plus her and her fiance (who is not liked by anyone in our family) have a 2 year old (LOVE her!!) and having been living together for 3 years. I think it's a little over the top to do a destination wedding when you already have a family. They want to do destination because it is cheaper for them...beause the rest of us have to foot the bill!

So has anyone ever told a sibling no to going to a far away wedding? My daughter and I are both in the wedding, and they want to incorporate my sons somehow's not like we can't all go. But I just don't see it in the budget at all. And I just think it's a little past that point for them...wrong?? My husband and I got married at the court house, with our 14 month old with us. So I'm not throwing stones here...I was in her shoes, kind of.

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone! I will defniitely let her know that I just don't think it's in the budget for us, as much as I'd like to take that kind of vacation. I am sure she will understand, but be hurt. And I will NEVER pass my thoughts on her relationship on to her, that's certainly not my place and I know it - but it's almost my opinion, sadly. I wish it wasn't. I do wish them all the best in the world, even if I can't be there to see it happen.

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answers from Houston on

Just say, "I love you and support you, but we simply cannot afford to go." It's that simple and straightforward. It's pretty selfish of people to expect others to drop that kind of money on them. She may be understanding about it and not expect it at all like many who do destination weddings, as she should be. If she throws a fit, then don't stress over it, she needs to grow up.

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answers from New York on

Let you sister go and have her destination wedding and throw a huge (affordable) party when she gets back.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Tell them the truth, suggest they have the wedding they want then when they come home just have a get together wedding and let everyone do their thing. The cost is ridiculous.

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answers from San Francisco on

Well... when I planned my destination wedding, I was kind of hoping that my extended family wouldn't go (or bring their tons of horrid kids, picking fights with each other like they're trying out for Jerry Springer, etc etc). I'm not saying that your sister thinks your kids are horrid. I'm sure they are not. And I'm not saying your extended family fights like mine does. I'm sure they don't. I'm simply saying, she may have thought it through, and she may not be totally heartbroken if people don't come. She may have a tiny wedding in mind, just her, her fiance, and a random minister out there on the beach in St Lucia. But she may also think that her whole family will be annoyed with her if she doesn't invite them... hence, having a wedding in an expensive locale that will eliminate 95% of the guest list without offending anyone. Sure, everyone's invited! But nobody will come. And she is probably okay with that.

Just be honest with her, but try to be supportive of her location choice too. She will understand.

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answers from Austin on

She has a right to get married wherever she wants, but she needs to understand the consequences of a destination wedding.. Not that you are trying to punish her, but I know it would be difficult for lots of families to afford such a trip..

What are other options? How about just you and your husband attend but only for 4 days?

Maybe when they get back you and your husband could host a welcome home luncheon and your Sister and her husband can show the wedding photos to everyone.

But whatever you do just be honest about the reason your family will not be able to attend. No need to include include your thoughts of what is right for them or bring up your choices.. That is not the point.

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answers from Dallas on

None of you should go if it causes any kind of financial burden. Don't let someone guilt you into it. However, I would keep your comments to her nonjudgemental.
How about throwing a party/reception for them afterwards.

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answers from Redding on

I think a person has a right to get married wherever they want.
That said, when they choose a place that's far away, even out of the country, they have to expect that there will be people who can't attend. Unless the couple marrying can pay for their guests, they can't really expect the expense, in my opinion.

The wedding is 18 months away. I think you need to let your sister know now that you aren't going to be able to swing it.
Leave your opinions about whether or not she is entitled to such an extravagant wedding out of it. Your point should simply be about the finances.

Again, just my opinion.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I NEVER understood the point of destination weddings. Go on the honeymoon where ever you want--but don't make it a finacial burden to everbody else just to see you get married.

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answers from Albuquerque on

If you can't afford it, you can't afford it. That's all you need to say to your sister. Tell her NOW though, so she can make alternate plans or plan to have her wedding without you and your family.

Whether she's been living with her boyfriend and has a child or is a 22 year old virgin doesn't really matter to whether you can afford the wedding or not, so try not to bring that part up. You'll only hurt her feelings if you tell her that she shouldn't be having a big wedding because she already has a child.

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answers from Anchorage on

If I could afford for just me to go, I would try to make it, but tell her the kids can not be in the wedding because you can't afford it. If even just you going would be expensive, or more than you can/want to spend, I would just tell her sorry, but you can't make it. IF she really wants you all there, she will either pay for your trips or change her wedding location. I will never understand the idea that people have that it is ok for their wedding to cost others tons of money. That is simply not ok.

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answers from Chicago on

I would tell her you just can't afford it now. But that you can't wait to see the photo's and to let you know if they decide to do any kind of reception you would love to be at that.
It's not wrong for them to choose a destination wedding. But she should not expect everyone she asks to be able to come. it just won't happen

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answers from Youngstown on

I had a destination wedding (Las Vegas, not quite as fancy as St. Lucia LOL). But there were members of my family that could not afford to go. I was totally fine with it and completely understood. That was something that we told ourselves when we decided to get married out of town, we knew that some people would not be able to afford to go, and we told everyone that was ok. We had a wedding reception here in town when we got back so that those who could not afford to fly to Vegas were still able to celebrate with us. I bet your sister will completely understand. Also, in my opinion, she deserves her dream wedding no matter how long they have been living together or how many kids they have. Every girl deserves her dream wedding!

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answers from Charlotte on

Added - I just saw this article, and I remembered your post. You gotta read this - oh my!

I've not had to do that, but truly, I think you just have to bite the bullet and tell her flat out. Like tomorrow.

I'm sorry. This is hard and I can't imagine having to do this. But $6000 that you don't have? Can't happen.


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answers from Lake Charles on

It should have nothing to do with how long she's been living with SO or if she has a kid or not it should solely have to do with whether or not you can afford it.. which it sounds like you can't. Just tell her "I have a family of 5 and there's no way I can justify spending 6K" simple as that, she can't get mad (but she can if you bring up that it's past the point for them which is ridiculous).

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answers from Redding on

Lots of destination wedding don't really include family or guests..... most of us cant afford it.
Make sure she has plenty of memory for her camera and tell her that you can't wait to see the pictures. It's unrealistic for her to think that people can spend that much to see them tie the knot.
My stepdaughter got married in Hawaii, she knew none of us could afford to go watch, but the photo package she bought while there was so beautiful and glamorous it was like we were there.... hopefully they hire someone to take some great shots so you all can share in the event after the fact.
Don't be shy, tell her you just cant afford it, plain and simple.

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answers from Detroit on

I would agree that you can just be honest and say you really didn't know how much it was going to cost and you can't afford to make the trip with your family. She's the one choosing to get married in St. Lucia so she needs to accept the fact that not everyone will be able to make it. My cousin got married in Hawaii and I think the only ones that came to their wedding was their parents, maid of honor and best man. As for her getting married in this manner after their child is already 2 years old, that is their business and nobody elses.

On the other hand, would it be doable if it was just you and your husband and you were able to leave the kids at home with someone else for the 5 days? Just a might also be a nice getaway for the 2 of you.

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answers from Savannah on

I had a destination wedding, and so did my brother.
For us: we got married in the Grand Canyon and had all our fun and extra events in Vegas. We chose a very small group of people to go and we had such an amazing deal (cheaper than a "normal" wedding in our hometown), then me, my husband, and my dad paid for everyone's "everything". (I bought mom's outfit, we paid for all meals and incidentals, shows, fun dad paid for the ceremony itself, photography, and everyone's flights).
For my brother: my sister in law was married before, and had a son, and she and my brother wanted to pay for their own wedding rather than ask her father for a 2nd wedding. They wanted to get married at the Iguazu Falls in Argentina. My family is more of the mind that if we invite you to something, we are responsible for the bill....they didn't have the money to bring anyone else over, and noone really would have wanted to cough up the money at that time either (not that anyone was really asked), so the trip was a combined wedding and honeymoon. We all pitched in and threw a big party/reception for them and her parents kept their son. They left for the airport and went to Argentina to get married, stayed a week and had a blast, came home and got their son back.
I feel like everyone is welcome to get married wherever they like. They can invite you to say you are welcome, but if they aren't willing/able to bring you along on their bill, then they must be gracious and understanding that the guests may not be able to come. If I had it to do over again, even though we had a lot of fun, I think it would have been romantic to have been just the 2 of us in our destination wedding, and would possibly do it differently if I could go back in time. On the other hand, my brother and sister in law had a beautiful, meaningful, private ceremony and a fantastic and romantic honeymoon, but also had ALL their family and friends together to celebrate their reception or going away party, whatever you want to call it. It was a great party, fun for all, and that's what they got to share with us. They have NO regrets.
I'd just straight up say "I love you and wish you the best, but for us, that is just simply too big a price tag. Perhaps we could have a party here for all your friends and family to join in your happiness, but it's just not feasible for everyone to go on such a fantastic trip as you are taking". I wouldn't feel bad about it at all.

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answers from Kansas City on

i think you call her up, tell her how much you love her and how happy you are for her...and sadly tell her, "girl i just can't do it. i'm so sorry! i REALLY literally can't afford it."

if she's a spoiled brat, she will throw a tantrum and act completely selfish and clueless... lol.

but i am sure she will understand. surely, right? she'd have to! and she can have a nice wedding for the same price as the destination one. it may not be the huge big blowout she "wants"...but you know, that's life. it can still be amazing. and you can help her...IF she decides to go there.

but mom is going to have to have that conversation with her too, apart from you. you can't gang up on her. hopefully she will realize it's just not practical.

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answers from Amarillo on

As you said you accepted before you knew the details. Since you have found out and the budget will not allow it, tell you you would love to be in the wedding but it is not doable. You shouldn't have to sacrifice your well being to be in the wedding. Besides 6K is a lot and your parents are in the same boat and I don't think they will be going. This not the time for many people to plan destination weddings as the family simply cannot attend or be part of it.

My son and his wife are attending a wedding in Mexico and it is about 3K for the two of them for a week's stay. They have been scrimping and saving for the last three months because there were two other trips that were planned in this time frame.

Don't beat yourself up over this. Get her a nice gift and host a meet the new Mr. & Mrs. Not everyone has everything.

The other S.

PS I am proud that you realized early on what you could and could not do. Don't mention anything about the age of the child or anything that has nothing to do with getting married and making it legal.

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answers from Rochester on

I haven't read the other replies, but I was not able to go to my little sister's wedding. I REALLY wish I had been able to, but we had a 5 month old at the time (our second), my husband was working part-time and in college part-time, and we simply had no money. It made me very sad, but there was just no place for that money to materialize from. Thankfully she did have a nice East Coast reception near Boston (we're in upstate New York) so we were able to drive up for that and stay one night in a hotel. Their actual wedding was in Idaho (so across the states from us) near our family, the Boston reception was for her husband's family, most of whom could not travel.

My sister and her husband had never lived together (and I imagine never done anything else, either) and had a "proper" wedding, but that did not affect whether or not we were able to go. The wedding for you is over a year away which is plenty of time for her to change her plans. I had wedding party people back out of mine (our second--we had a justice of the peace wedding on a college break and then a very inexpensive family/church ceremony six months later) and you just go from there and work around people. If other family members are in the same position, maybe the couple can have the wedding and come back and have a reception with family.

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answers from Cleveland on

I'm so glad people are saying to just not go. We don't have any debt but I'd still be livid if my sister expected me to spend $6k with a main reason to save her money! So wrong. I can't stand destination weddings unless the people really dont want me to attend. So if you look at it that way, either she's being super selfish so who cares if she's mad or she really doesn't want you to come and you'll both be happy! :)

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answers from Charlotte on

The only couple I know who had a destination wedding did not invite anyone else along. It was at Sandals in the Bahamas I believe.
Another couple had a rich mom who paid for the ENTIRE family to fly to the Bahamas for a week. No invited guest paid their own way.
No way I would derail being debt free for any wedding. Having no debt is worth the occasional problem like this.

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answers from Seattle on

"Sister, I hope you have a great time in St. Lucia but we will not be able to go. Please take a ton of pictures and share them with me when you get home!!!" You sound like you don't want to go because of the price...BUT, I also think that you are being a tad judgy since you can't seem to understand why they want to have a destination wedding. It's their wedding...they can have it wherever they want with however many children they have.

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answers from Providence on

She is your sister, and you need to be honest with her. Tell her you had to think it over and over, and it is too much for you and your family to attend. It was a nice thought, but way too over the top. You need to to let her know this before they go ahead and plan you in the wedding..


answers from Phoenix on

My second hubby and I had a destination wedding, although it was not a fabulous place as St Lucia! We are from the Phx area, hubbys fam is in ND and mine are in CA. So we had a 4 day wedding weekend in Laughlin Nevada. We got married on the riverboat. It was great and we had about 35 people go. We invited friends of my mom, whom I've known forever but they got all offended when they realized we were NOT paying for their flight and hotel and expenses. No big loss. It was not an issue with anyone else. So if I were you, I would just be honest and tell her although you would love to go, you just don't see that it is possible financially. Maybe see if they can have a party when they get home for everyone local to attend. Good luck!



answers from Utica on

My BIL is having his wedding in Vegas and we are not attending because I have a 22 month old and a baby on the way. Sometimes thats just the way the cookie crumbles. Your sister cant just expect you to drop everything because a destination wedding fits their plans and no one elses. Its a fact of life that when we become adults that people start and build their own lives and sometimes plans dont work out
I would just tell her the truth and if she chooses to go ahead with her wedding plans in St. Lucia then wish her all the best and party with them when they gat back



answers from Waco on

I don't think she is being fair to you, I had a destination wedding and we paid for the airfare/hotel for my parents, maid of honor & spouse, and best man & spouse. Since we booked everything at the same resort they did give us a discount, but we still wanted to pay for that bulk expense. We did have a few others attend (friends and cousins) at there expense, but it was like hey these are the dates if you want to be there if not a video of the event will be at the "welcome home" party after we get back. I did a destination wedding mostly because it was a 2nd marriage for both of us and so we where looking for a more relaxed thing ( all I did was tell them my colors and pick a package) now we didn't include our children they where at home. When we got back we had a huge party with friends, family and everyone who wanted to come and did say vows during the toast for our children to see we are married now.



answers from Colorado Springs on

I think it is selfish of her to expect everyone to pay such incredibly high costs to go to her destination wedding. Unless she is willing to pay for transportation for everyone, she shouldn't expect people to be able to come. Some might be able to afford it, but most people really can't, especially with a family in this economy. I would just tell her that you are sorry, but the expense is just too great. Whatever you do, do not go into debt for this. She also has 18 months to replan a wedding at a local venue. Tell her now, rather than waiting.



answers from Orlando on

I had no idea at "destination weddings" that the guests pay for everything? LOL Did I read that right?
I agree if you can't afford it, then.... what are you gonna do? I'd tell my sister I couldn't go.

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