11/30 Ask Liz: Two Weddings Enter, Only One Leaves

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Dear Liz,
My fiance and I are planning a wedding 2 years out so we have time to save and I can finish with my graduate degree.  However, when we got engaged, I never dreamed of how expensive everything would be.  I have had little to no emotional or financial support from my family and although we have time to save to pay for the wedding of our dreams ourselves, I’m at the point that I feel like it would be for everyone else –instead of us.

I would like a barn wedding with a big group of people (we’ve cut the guest list down to 200), but I’m considering changing the plans completely and doing a destination wedding in Mexico instead. Do you think I would regret it?  What type of hidden costs are associated with a destination wedding?

Donde  o Donde?
Dear Donde,
The only person who can determine if you’re going to regret having a destination wedding in Mexico is you. It is pretty much on the other end of the spectrum from what you say you want,  but here’s the thing: You have a lot of time to figure out exactly what each one is going to look like in terms of cost. The choice doesn’t have to be made right now. The Destination wedding ostensibly has less moving pieces, so start there. How much per person? How much are your guests going to have to pay to get down there, including their hotel stay? Are they going to have to pay a resort fee to use the facilities? Make the resort break it down for you in one document, including any taxes or service charges. What are you paying out the door? I know, it’s a lot of questions, but, again, you have time.
The barn wedding. This is going to sound funny, but is there a barn in particular that you had in mind? The first step is to find one, and then find out what you have to bring in. If it’s everything — tables, chairs, silverware, dishes, then find out how much that’s going to be. And, we’re talking basics, none of that silk ruffled tablecloth type of thing. Basics. You can always upgrade later. For instance, in Los Angeles, best case scenario is that a table of 10, fully set with linens, plates, etc, is going to to cost about $40, each. You will have 20 of those. I just posted what I call “The Olive Garden Rule” on my blog, which will give you a perspective on catering costs. And there’s flowers and a photographer and a DJ, all the stuff that normally goes with weddings. Don’t get freaked out while you’re finding all this info out. Just find it out, and decide. You really do have time.
Dear Liz,
I’ve been reading that  your guests bringing gifts to the wedding is a bad idea. The gifts could be stolen, cards could get separated from their boxes. I’m also worried because we live almost an hour away, and what if the gifts won’t fit in the car?We have over 100 guests.
Is there a polite way to ask them to send the gifts to our house, rather than bring them to the wedding? Or not bring anything at all? We don’t even need anything, and I don’t want anyone to feel guilty if they can’t afford to bring something.
Gifts Be Gone

Dear Gone,

Guests are going to end up bringing gifts anyway. There is no way to deter everyone, even if you put it in 14-pt bold print at the bottom of your invitation. You can try that, though, along with putting it on your wedding website, if you have them, and generally spreading the word.

Even if you don’t register, some will bring cards with checks in them. If you do register, then the larger items can be shipped to you. But either way, folks are going to bring stuff.

Don’t worry about it too much, seriously. Designate a family member to hold onto the check cards. If there do end up being too many gifts for the car, ask a family or wedding party member who lives near you to take them, and you’ll pick them up later.

Are you stuck trying to decide between two venues? How did you figure out how to go “giftless?” Share below!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She's also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of "DIY Your DOC: Do-it Yourself Wedding Day Coordination." Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.