What Is Proper Etiquette for This???

Updated on July 08, 2011
J.S. asks from Cortland, IL
14 answers

Hi Mama's!!
My husband & I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary next year. We never had a wedding. We decided to put our money saved for a wedding towards a down payment on out house instead. So, now we'd really like to renew our vows. Since we didn't have a wedding, we didn't have a honeymoon either. So, for our 10yr anniversary, we decided to renew our vows either on a cruise or at a caribbean destination. We would like to invite some of our close friends & family to join us. HOWEVER, we don't have the finances to cover the expense of them. I do a lot of scrapbooking & card-making and decided I'd like to make "vow renewal invitations" for those we want to invite. My question is...How do I word an invitation inviting guests to join us in this event, but that they are responsible for the costs?? We did this with a friend years ago, and it was just assumed we paid our own way. They didn't do invitations though, it was just a phone call & email saying, hey we're doing this...if you're looking for a vacation and want to join, here's the info of where we are going & when. But, since I'm planning on sending actual invites out, that doesn't really work. Well, it will, I just need to figure out how to word it.
Thanks in advance!!!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Don't even go there unless you come from a family with means and have friends with plenty of disposable income and very flexible schedules.

In this economy, I'd just skip inviting others, and go get married on the cruise or carribean get away without them. You're asking to have your dreams dashed and not having a nice wedding a second time by putting it on others to find the money AND time off from work and life to join you at a destination wedding.

I totally resented it when friends and relatives invited me to high expense weddings like this because it creates unnecessary guilt! It doesn't matter if you say they aren't obliged to go. They WILL feel obliged, and most will make the sacrifice and go, even if it means they'll be broke for the next two years. The mere fact that you asked. puts undue pressure on them to find the money and come, lest they feel like they're disappointing you or out of fear that you might think they don't love you or care.

It's an imposition to do this, and in my opinion bad taste. You've had years to plan and save. Your relatives and friends didn't. If they have kids, they will now have to choose between coughing up funds to bring them along (if you'll allow children at your wedding) or will need to find a sitter willing to watch them for an entire week or weekend.

Then there's the expense of gifts, attire, the cost of the flight ( if it isn't included), possibly hotel costs, and needing just general spending money to be able to have a somewhat decent time at the resort or on the cruise after the wedding festivities are over. That adds up fast.

Don't do it, I say! If they don't have the money, these "guests" will be the worst thing that can happen to your wedding. You'll either have to deal with incessant complaints, moodiness and outright confrontation or anger directed at you, and you'll be stuck with these people after the ceremony. If they're not happy, you certainly won't be happy. It will add up to a very bad vacation and you'll be wishing you'd saved the money for THIS wedding and stayed home.

Just remember, for the guests (whether it's parents, cousins, your closest friends) this isn't their idea...or their suggested gift to you. You are imposing on them, and while they'd never tell you to your face you're a jerk for doing this, they'll probably harbor resentment and think it all through the whole trip, and long after if they have to put it on credit cards or sacrifice something for their own family to appease you and your fantasy destination wedding.

If you really want a traditional wedding with witnesses and guests, plan it that way....in a LOCAL church...at a LOCAL hotel, resort or park and then go on your dream destination vacation AFTERWARDS and without friends and family. Don't put people on the spot trying to accommodate your personal needs or interests. It isn't fair.

Sorry to be so harsh or wet blanket, but hopefully you do realise, that if a total stranger could say this based on their own experiences of being invited to weddings like this (which by the way, for me were absolutely miserable and with one friend, we don't speak anymore), you can bet your own family very likely would feel the same. So if you don't want unnecessary drama or tension surrounding your long awaited dream wedding, don't go there! JMO.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I would do it basically like your friend did, only in invitation form. Let your family/friends know you're renewing your vows on X cruise, and let them know if they are up for a vacation, and would like to join you, here is the information where they can book themselves on the cruise as well, and follow that with all the cruise info, including cost so they know what that is and that they will be paying.


Dearest friends and family,

For our 10th anniversary, we are renewing our committment to each other with a vow renewal ceremony and finally taking our honeymoon, and all this will occur on August 15, 2011, on The Grand Cruise Ship.

Are you up for a vacation/cruise? If your finances and time allows, we'd love for you to join us! If you would like to book with us on our cruise, here are the details for you to make your reservations:
Cruise Line contact info
Cruise details
Cost per person
Reserve by date

Finish it off with something like, "All aboard! Would love to share this experience with you!"

I think people would get the message. I would.

Have a blast!

Edited to add: Ok, after reading JL's response, I kinda agree, at least about people feeling guilty if they can't come, and about you maybe not having as great a time as you think with all these people to coordinate and please. Might be a better time for the two of you to go and reconnect! Unless you KNOW your family/friends have the finances readily available for this (which isn't probable), and you are SURE you've thought through having all these people with you, then I'd probably just plan a wonderful trip for the two of you...

6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

awkward! Some people just don't "get" oblique references. & there are some people who just assume....that life is a free ride. Are you prepared to pick up the slack or to deal with hurt feelings? If not, then please don't invite guests along!

If you were renewing your vows at home/church & inviting friends/family, then you'd be picking up the tab for the food/drinks following the ceremony. You're adults, you've been married 10 years.....it's your bill!

& now for the rest of my honest opinion: this renewal of vows is all about you. If you want to do this on a cruise, then it truly should be all about you! To ask your closest friends/family along .....seems a little "off". You made your choices the 1st time around....& it's a little presumptous to want their involvement this time. & How is it a honeymoon if you're sharing your time with friends/family? !! Peace.....

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think you're creating quite a pickle for yourself by sending out invites. If you INVITE someone to an event as a GUEST, then you are throwing the party and handling the costs, plans etc. I would consider sending out announcements instead. Are you going to include a webstream? If so, you can list the website for people to watch at home and then throw in a line about...and anyone thinking of taking a cruise is welcome to join us! The informal way your friend advertised her situation was much more appropriate.

I was once asked to be a bridesmaid for one of my closest friends who comes from a very wealthy family. I agreed, and I was so happy for her that she finally found the right guy (she had several REALLY not the right guys before that). As months went on, she and her mother starting planning all sorts of things. The wedding was held in Napa, CA over 4th of July weekend (not where she lived nor any of her family AND during an expensive holiday weekend). She and her mother rented a 12 bedroom mansion for the bridal party to stay in. They organized all kinds of events all week long including cooking classes at an exclusive vineyard, wine tours including party bus rental, and I think a SF bay cruise during the 4th fireworks...not sure if that actually happened or not as I was not there for that part of it. Mind you, that just to get to Napa for every single one of us was a plane ticket and a rental car or expensive taxi (as there is no airport there), not to mention dresses, etc. For the wedding, she and her mother booked some hair and makeup artists from Hollywood and flew them to Napa to do hair and makeup. Several months ahead of time, we were each mailed "agendas." There was no mention of payment. We were each later emailed "bills" a few weeks before the wedding from her mother to cover all of these events, the hair and makeup etc. At the time, everyone in the bridal party was only a few years out of college, and no one was exactly rolling in money. At the time, I was still in medical training making about 35K a year as a resident. The "bill" for participating in events and staying at the mansion was almost 10K...nearly a third of my yearly gross salary, and this didn't include the cost of any of the travel, meals outside of the "events", wedding gift, etc. I decided to just fly into town the day before the wedding and leave the morning after. By the time I got there, the whole bridal party was at war...mostly upset with MOB for these expenses that no one could afford but just kept getting heaped on apparently during the week, and then the bride for not standing up to her mother and then the sides of the war between themselves. The bride lost several close friends after this event.

I was really the only one who was "above the fray" because I had not been in the mansion during the week and did not participate in any of these events. The bride and I had many very emotional discussions about everything going on. She just wanted to have this great week with her closest friends and wanted everyone to have a fabulous memorable time. She hadn't stopped to think about how financially strapped all of her friends were trying to keep up with her and her mother because, in her family, you could drop 30-50K for a vacation and not think twice about it. What she failed to consider was that many people would have to save up for a long while to have that kind of money to splurge, and when they do have it saved, they will want to spend it THEIR way on THEIR vacation, not her wedding with all events decided upon by her and her mother.

By sending out invites, you potentially are putting friends and family in a very difficult position. There most likely will be feelings of obligation to attend and feelings of resentment about a large amount of money they will be spending essentially at your direction (the cruise and destination you chose on the dates you chose for your event that is about you and not them). Also, they people will be spending their vacation days which may limit what they can do for their own holiday/vacation travel during the year. I am sure that your heart is in the right place, just like my friend's was. The consequences though may not be what you are expecting. You've saved for 10 yrs for you and your hubby to be able to afford this. Other have not...and even if they have saved for 10 yrs, it probably was not intended to be saved to cover expenses for your wedding/vow renewal.

Since all of these people are close to you, why don't you just have an in-person discussion? Offer that if they want to come, you could try to coordinate plans but that you expect nothing. I would also look into web broadcast such that close family members that do want to participate but can't afford it have a way to feel included.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Personally, I'd do the marriage vows w/ a gathering of family and friends at either your house or a nice location where everyone can attend. Then I'd sail off on my "honeymoon" w/ my hubby. I wouldn't feel comfortable asking everyone to pay their own way. I really, really don't like it when people invite us to "location weddings." It really gets too expensive. And you feel pressure, especially if you are close to them, to lay all the money down and go. If I'm going to spend a good chunk of money on a vacation, I want it to be my personal choice and I don't want to be tied up in group activities. That's just my opinion.

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answers from Los Angeles on

CONGRATULATIONS on your 10th anniversary.

I read all the responses down to Courtney V.'s. She has it exactly right.

If you guys were wealthy enough to invite everyone and PAY for their trip, that would be wonderful. You'd probably have lots of friends that would complain because they weren't invited.

Or if you lived close to a port where you could pay for a short cruise and then go on a longer one after, that would be great.

My suggestion: Have a vow renewal ceremony within 50 miles of where you live. Pay to have a nice dinner for all attendees, then fly off to your honeymoon. If I was doing it, I would spend more on meal and less on flowers and fluff.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Chicago on

My best girl friend did an "Open Honeymoon" to Cancun ... if you could affoard to join the newlyweds in Cancun you were more then welcome if not no biggie. We all wanted to and would have loved the vacation, however for all the friends it just did not feel right ... it's their special time together. Your friends may end up feeling the same way in the end, here is how they did theirs:
"Open Honeymoon" if you are able to join us in Cancun, Mexico after we "make it legal" please be ready to run on (insert date here). We will be in Cancun from (insert dates here) and using (insert travel agency here) for our accomodations you are welcome to contact them (insert contact info here) to book your reservations as well. We hope you can make it and are happy to have you as part of our relationship and lives. Love bride & groom
These were sent out to select friends/family that the bride/groom wanted to have with them and they were sent out shortly after the save-the-dates so people had enough time to save up/make plans. I liked the tongue and cheek of it all since these were Honeymoon inviations and not wedding invitations. No matter what ends up happening I hope you enjoy your cruise.

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answers from Dallas on

I would call the people you want to invite and talk it over with them "just a phone call & email saying, hey we're doing this...if you're looking for a vacation and want to join, here's the info of where we are going & when"
The people that say yeah - i think we can swing that - send your homemade invite to them. But, Instead of a traditional invite, scrapbook an itinerary to send to them. That would be a great keepsake for them and for you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

"We'd like to invite you to join us on a Vow Renewal Cruise! It will be on _________ until ________ and this is the travel agent we used to book our trip and she may be able to get group deals for everyone who mentions they are part of the ____________ party!! We hope you will be able to join us, but understand if the time frame or finances are holding you back."

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answers from Dallas on

I would tread carefully. In this day & age, people can become easily offended that you would send them an invite to such a pricey event. One of my co-workers came in my office the other day ranting about a close friend's wedding invitation to some tropical islands- and they would have to spend over $3000 to attend, but they were worried that their friends would get offended if they didn't go, because they are really close. So, they felt pretty put out by that.

I'm positive that you'll find a way to word it that is 'no pressure', though. I think for your closest friends, a phone call is in order to let them know that you are not expecting anything, but you'd be elated if they can go.

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answers from Dallas on

Apparently I'm the odd one out here.
I don't think an invitation to an event means you pay for everyone to get there, nor do I think most people assume that either. When my out of town friends got married and invited me I didn't assume that meant they were paying for my plane ticket. I did assume they would pay for dinner at the reception, which they did, and which you will as well.

For a destination renewal just send out the invites with the information for the renewal. If you want you can include the info for your travel agent so they will know what arrangements you are making in case they want to stay at the same place/be on the same flight. The invite is for the renewal, it's up to the invited to get there, same as it would be if you had it at home and they had to fly to get there.

The cruise is a little stickier. For that you really are inviting them on vacation, and cost will have to be discussed. I like Lee P's idea for that.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Unless you are extremely wealthy I doubt anyone would expect you to cover anything for them so don't worry about it. You just need to put in the invitation a seperate card with all of the information of where to stay and room cost(you should talk to a hotel about arranging a group rate) and what airlines fly there. This is how it has worked for destination weddings I have been invited to.
I would also make a point of speaking to everyone that you want to invite and let them know the plans and make sure to emphasize that while you would love to have them there that you guys completely understand if they can't make it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

I would hope that anyone that you are close enough to be inviting to this occassion will know you and your situation well enough to know that this is a dutch treat vacation...that you are not able to pay for all of the expenses for everyone. If they don't, when they call you to ask what cruise, or airline or whatever...then you can fill them in at the time.
You could also put some specific information in the invitation....
"We have found the best deal at XYZ Cruise line, departing on such and such date...with such and such price tag....we would be so thrilled if you could join us for this special day...would that fit into your budget???"
I would make the invitation itself just exactly the way you want to make it...with the same type of information as if you were just inviting them to a reception or something...then put the other more detailed information...giving them the gentle hint that this trip is on THEM...in a separate piece of paper that you enclose in the invitation itself. Sort of the same idea as when you add a map or something to get the guests to a remote location.
I would also be tempted to "feel out" some of the main people that you are wanting to having there...before you go too far ....to see if this is something that is even feasible for them. It could be that you are going to need to consider going on the cruise or whatever with your husband and then planning a vow renewing ceremony and reception in your hometown afterwards. Personally...I could not just suddenly fit a cruise or vacation like that into my budget.
Congratulations on your anniversary!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Think about sending more of a letter than an invitation. You can still do your fancy work on it. An invitation, per se, implies a party one attends, not a party that one pays for.

And it's a great idea to sound it out first with a few close friends or relatives. I know I would be disappointed if I planned an event like this and nobody could come. I'd prefer to change my plans before it came to that point.

All that being said, I hope that it works and that you have fun!

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