A wedding! It is the happiest day for two individuals. It is the happiest moment for two families. It is the moment when two become one. The champagne is on ice, there’s a monster-size cake, and everyone is dressed to the nines. Ultimately, it is the day on which everyone is sharing in a memorable milestone. Wait up! Did I say milestone? At any wedding, there are dozens of wedding guests who travel many “miles” to attend. Some have to fly, take a train, or drive long-distance. Sure, weddings are wonderful. Such precious moments are talked about in the weeks following.
Traveling to a wedding can be very exciting. However, wedding travel is no easy feat. My family and I have been invited to many out-of-town weddings. They are a lot of fun. Nonetheless, the burden of time and money always comes to light. If you are engaged to get married, take my series of past wedding experiences into consideration. You will understand how paramount it is to be mindful of out-of-town guests. They’re the ones going the great distance to share in a timeless moment with you. Making your wedding day worthwhile is one thing, but it is vital that your out-of-town guests leave with the feeling that the event was worthwhile.
To invited guests, I wish to share some valuable travel advice with you to ease the “I do-I don’t” dilemma. Since 2000, my family and I have been invited to a handful of out-of-town weddings. They’ve been held in locations all over the country. There were weddings which the guests’ travel needs were well. or at times, poorly accommodated.
In June 2003, we attended a friend’s wedding in the Los Angeles area. The wedding mass was held in Santa Clarita, with the reception held at an aviation-themed banquet hall in Van Nuys. The wedding was the utmost pleasant. It was well put together. The groom (our longtime friend) and the bride well-researched the hotel accommodations. In the invitation, they provided a listing of hotels nearest to the wedding location. We flew into Burbank. We chose to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Valencia. The hotel was conveniently located across the highway from Six Flags Magic Mountain. That came in very handy. It was a good option to consider, just in case we decided to unwind. Before attending the wedding, we visited Six Flags Magic Mountain for a few hours. We had a great time. Santa Clarita is twenty- five minutes from Valencia. It was a wedding done with over-the-top, solid travel research. Our friend’s wedding in Santa Clarita was truly well worth it.
In November 2003, I was invited to my very first of college classmates’ weddings. My dear classmate and her fiancé were getting married in Moline, Illinois. I was very excited for her. When I read the invitation, I put on the brakes. The date and location hit me like a fastball. Moline is one hundred and sixty-five miles west of Chicago. The date was very difficult to make. She and her fiancé planned their wedding for New Year’s weekend. They got engaged in August of that year. Neither did they not recommend a hotel in the area, nor did they block off hotel space for out-of-town guests. To add insult to injury, their wedding was planned amidst an airline blackout period. Taking the train would have been my best bet. Taking the train was a much cheaper option. Taking the train would have worked out well, but the return trip would’ve caused me to miss a full working day. With regret, I checked off, “Sorry, I cannot attend.” I was beside myself when explaining my response on the back of the RSVP card. I couldn’t make the wedding, but at least their gift did.
My next wedding invitation came in July 2005. My very dearest friend from college was getting married in September. The wedding was set for the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. The wedding was to take place in the charming town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Labor Day weekend is the most traveled weekend for New Englanders. Not only is it a highly-traveled weekend for New Englanders, but thousands from out-of-state travel to Cape Cod for Labor Day. My friend and her fiancé were asking the impossible. To make traveling easier for out-of-town guests, they could’ve have held the wedding in Boston. They held the wedding reception at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in Falmouth. They arranged for a block of hotel rooms with a two-night minimum. The cost per night was three hundred and ninety-five dollars plus tax. I could not imagine spending one hundred dollars on a round-trip train ticket to Boston, along with spending sixty dollars on a round-trip bus ticket to Falmouth. The most costly part would have been tacking on nearly eight hundred dollars for a hotel room. With great regret, I checked off “Sorry, I will not be able to attend.”. I couldn’t have felt worse saying “no” on the invitation. Just like my prior invitation, the lack of consideration was the “icing on the cake”. I had mixed emotions, but my disappointment was by far incomparable.
Engaged couples are bound to make errors when planning their weddings. So, what about you, the out-of-town guests? What can be done to ease the stress involved in traveling to a wedding across the miles? For better, for worse, is saying “no” to the invitation the end-all? It might, but it shouldn’t be. Before deciding to check off “no” on the RSVP card, consider looking up alternatives. Before doing so, contact the bride and groom. Find out where else they can recommend. If the hotel they’re using is too pricey, ask if there’s a cheaper one nearby. Ask about transportation. Ask if you could fly, take a bus, or a train. Don’t attempt doing all of the research by yourself. This is work which the bride, groom, and/or their families could’ve done to make your journey a whole lot more enjoyable. Many of the major airlines offer hotel packages online. Further, Amtrak.com provides hotels with reasonable rates, once train choices have been made (if applicable). Lastly, don’t hesitate to consult travel web sites such as Priceline.com, Hotwire.com, and Hotels.com.
An out-of-town wedding is always a pleasure to attend. It is truly an honor not to be passed up. Traveling long-distance to a wedding shows the bride and groom that you want to support them. Having the opportunity to be a part of their big day is very special. On the other hand, the bride and groom, and even their families aren’t perfect. Not all the hatches are battened down. They might have picked a hotel too expensive for the occasion or didn’t provide a list of hotels at all. Worst case scenario, the engaged couple may have picked the most inconvenient location and date for their wedding. These are the common factors which convince guests to say “no” on the invitation. Even though the bride and groom’s planning may be sub-par, you shouldn’t be afraid to seek out alternatives. Always give yourself a fighting chance at attending. We all want to say “I do” to a wedding invitation. Saying “no” should be a last resort. It’s a dreadful decision which all out-of-town wedding guests want to avoid. Doing a little extra on your part goes a long way. It is what makes a wedding couple far happier than you imagined.