Whether it’s in America or Africa, the destination wedding can be tricky. We show you how to negotiate travelling for a wedding.
We’ve all been there. A happy friend announces that she’s marrying the man of her dreams - you’re thrilled! Everyone loves a wedding – good food, good company and plenty of dancing. As well, of course, as all the stuff about celebrating everlasting love. Anyway, it’s unequivocally good news.
But when your starry-eyed friend announces that she’s thinking about a wedding on a beach in Mexico, another little voice shows up in your head. And this one is far more insidious than the last - it’s asking all these questions about your finances and your leave balance. But as someone who’s gone as far afield as Johannesburg to see a friend trounce down the aisle clad in lace, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be a stressful situation for you. Here are my top tips:
1. Don’t assume anything
Just because you’re going all the way to a friend’s parents’ country estate in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t mean that they will put you up. Don’t assume that just because you’re invited, your partner is. Definitely don’t RSVP yes, book in your leave at work and then get the nasty surprise that your friend simply has nowhere for you to stay…and your partner’s not invited.
Don’t assume that just because you’re surrounded by the happy couples’ family and friends that it’s ok to leave your bag unattended on the table whilst you’re being swung around on the dance floor by the drunk uncle. There can often be hundreds of people at a wedding and on some occasions you unfortunately might come across an unsavoury character.
Don’t assume anything. Rookie error.
2. Talk to the bridal party
Are there suggested places to stay? Have the happy couple booked somewhere for their guests to stay (that might even involve a group discount)?
Even if the invite makes no mention of accommodation, always talk to the person getting married - chances are, they’ve sussed out the location of their wedding and have some thoughts on where to stay. If they have suggested somewhere and it’s in your price range, I would suggest staying there - you’ll be able to walk down the road to the only bakery in Kangaroo Valley as one hungover clique, which is always better than alone.
Bonus - the soon-to-be-newly weds might have even booked transport from their suggested venues to the wedding. If not, you can always share a cab with the weird cousins and friends-of-friends staying at the caravan park. Or drive, I hear that’s something that people do at weddings if they’re the sober driver.
3. Involve something else in your holiday
In the aforementioned trip to Johannesburg, I also managed to catch up with my best friend (who lives on the other side of the world), go on a camping safari in Botswana, have a week on the beach in Mozambique and see Zambia’s Victoria Falls. Not a bad little jaunt! Southern Africa had long been a place on my bucket list, and the wedding of a dear friend was the perfect excuse I needed to get myself into gear and onto a plane.
On the other hand, friends’ choices in wedding venues can sometimes make us go to places that we’re not all that keen on. If you’re stuck going to Lithgow for a friend or family member’s nuptials, make an event of it - road trip with all your friends, have a giant sleepover in someone’s hotel room, visit sites that surround the wedding on the way there.
After all, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey #weddingsayings.
4. Don’t overstretch yourself
We all love our friends, and I think I speak for most people when I say that we all love seeing them happy and in love and walking down the aisle. Unfortunately, when that aisle is on a tropical island three days’ sail from Crete at the cost of $7,000/person plus flights, it’s not always feasible to partake in what they’ve chosen for their weddings.
Being honest and upfront enough to tell your friends that as much as you’d love to, you just can’t do it because of cash flow/logistics will save you a lot of angst in the long run. If you can do it, but you can’t afford anything from their stupid overpriced registry, then don’t cause yourself too much financial hardship - simply give them the gift of your presence.
5. Over pack
As a chronic under packer, it pains me to write this. But you’re not going to be in your usual surroundings, and you won’t have your usual things. So take all the bobby pins/spare lipsticks/inhalers that you can find, because there ain’t nothing open in Mount Gambier at 11pm on a Saturday night. This goes for your wedding outfit, your non-wedding outfit, your toiletries and everything that you’d normally pack for a weekend away. For the love of God, please try on your outfit before you go.
Always ensure you have baggage cover in case the worst happens and your suitcase doesn’t turn up on the conveyor belt, resulting in you making a last minute dash to the local fashion retailer to pick up a questionable wedding outfit.
Also, make sure that your accommodation has an iron! A crumpled guest is not a welcome guest.
6. Book in advance
Particularly so if you’re lucky (cough cough) enough to be invited to a wedding over a long weekend or in peak season which sees accommodation prices triple on their usual rates. Don’t be the guy who slept in his car after the wedding.
7. Look after yourself
Weddings can take their toll – all that travelling, one glass of champagne after the other, dance floor injuries and a late night. Make sure you take a tried and tested hangover remedy for when you’re feeling bleary eyed the morning after.
Throughout the day make sure you drink plenty of water in between toasts and speeches to stay re-hydrated. Keep an eye on your personal belongings and if you don’t need to, don’t take a bag with you. Waking up after a big party only to find you’ve lost half the contents of your bag is no fun, and your travel insurance isn’t likely to cover you if you are intoxicated and misplace your belongings – so enjoy the bar tab but be smart and safe!
8. Get travel insurance
If you’re going to an exotic destination wedding beyond our fair shores then you absolutely need travel insurance. Like any trips overseas, wedding adventures have much potential to go wrong (as per every rom com, ever) and being insured will make sure that your friends’ special day doesn’t turn into the worst one of your life. Whether it’s lost luggage, a natural disaster, a missed flight or a case of Bali belly, make sure you’re covered.