Destination Wedding Bluff

by admin on September 16, 2013

My fiance and I are at a total loss and I could use some advice. After six years of dating we’re finally tying the knot in Rome next year. We picked Rome because it’s where we met and fell in love, my family lives in another country, and our friends are scattered very internationally.

We are framing it (through an invitation letter and repeated word-of-mouth) as a sort of elopement to which a few (25) people are invited if they can make it. No pressure is what we’re aiming for. The only people we absolutely had to have there were our immediate families, so we ran this idea by my parents and sisters who were thrilled with it, as were his parents. Everyone is financially and physically able to go and love the idea.

His parents immediately offered to pay for his adult sister (only sibling) to attend, since she’s a freelance photographer without much money but a lot of free time. Great! Except that this sister, “Anne”, has now said she doesn’t want to go. Despite her parents footing all her expenses for the trip (and she’s never turned down their money before), she’s upset that her boyfriend of a year (whom we will invite of course) cannot afford to attend with her. She is pouting that she doesn’t want to “waste” her first experience in Europe without him, and says we are selfish for picking a place not “everyone” can make happen. Her parents won’t pay for the boyfriend (whom they don’t know very well) because it would mean a big air ticket and extra hotel room (she’d stay with them as is). Anne is claiming that if we all guilt her and “drag her” to our wedding she’ll be miserable. This is a 35 year old woman!

My fiance alternates between anger and sadness that his only sibling might not be there – we’ve all tried reasoning with her but she’s at the point of just shrugging and saying we “should have thought about how our guests would feel” when we picked our location. I know some people hate destination weddings but this is one that should be a no-brainer! I hate to see how sad this makes my fiance… Do we have to change everything for her? 0912-13

If Anne were engaged to be married, that would change the dynamic considerably but she and her boyfriend are not.   He’s being generously invited to a very exclusive, private wedding and while it is disappointing that he cannot afford to go, neither he nor Anne should have an expectation that he is to be treated like a member of the family with the attending privileges of receiving unearned financial assistance from his in-laws.   Basically Anne wants her parents to shell out a considerable amount of money for a man they neither know well nor who appears to have much of an intention to knit himself into the family via marriage. Sorry, Anne.  Get over it.

I’m guessing that Anne is bluffing.  Honestly, who would pass up a trip to Europe on someone else’s generously offered dime?   Particularly since Anne is quite willing to go on the trip if the ‘rents would only cough up more money for the boyfriend.   I’d hold steady on the choices you’ve already made and let the chips fall where they may.  This situation may be a sad epiphany revealing where your future sister-in-law’s priorities and values lie.   It is unfortunate that Anne is basing her decision to not attend on a petulant and entitled belief that her boyfriend’s travel should be funded but you and the fiance also need to recognize that not everyone can attend a destination wedding and Anne may be one of the casualties of the decision to have a destination wedding.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

NostalgicGal October 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

I agree that if you’re self employed, everyone thinks you have vatloads of free time. No you don’t. You get to do it all, you have to do it all or it doesn’t get done, and if it doesn’t get done you don’t get paid. For the first year I made jewelry, I think 2/3 of the time was was spent trying to convince others (including my DH) that I was truly at work and I needed to WORK. Once they got used to the idea that this room (I had home office and studio) WAS my business, just that it was downstairs in my house; and I commuted by going downstairs, this was my office, my cubicle, and my sweatshop. My car had a ledger book that I could log every mile I drove for business (and write the odometer readings down, inside the cover was a listing of standard measured distances to places I got supplies or businesses I serviced (clients) and hey yeah, you can come along but, yes I need to log the date, the time and my odometer reading before we can blitz off…)

I can still sympathize with Anne that she could be worried about she gets to go to Rome, it will eat into her contracts and time for making her living; and she can’t get the time she wants to dedicate to whatever… but. The offer is ticket for her, reason is her brother’s wedding. If she doesn’t want those constraints then either find money/save money to take the fellow along; or decline the ticket and do as she needs and wants to. Don’t use the issue of BF can’t come as a sledge hammer to hold things hostage. I think the offer of the free ticket there to be more than enough for one to expect.


Susie November 15, 2013 at 12:00 am

Anne has been invited. Anne has declined. There is no need to discuss it beyond that. She is a grown woman and entitled to decide she does not want a free trip to Europe. Her reasons are valid *to her* and pushing her to change seems like a violation of etiquette in and of itself.


Cheryl July 22, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Your husband needs to get angry, his 35 year old sister will not come because she and her boyfriend are broke and he is unable to come. She is more upset that she can’t wiggle more money out of her parents. Both your husband and his parents need to put foot down, inform her that she and the boyfriend are invited, however, he will have to find his own air travel arrangements and pay for it himself. She sounds like a spoiled brat and you two deserve to have your wedding where you want but due to the distance do no be surprised if your immediate families are all that attend.


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