If you’re a good friend of mine, you might want to stop reading now. (Sorry, you know I love you!)
As a frequent wedding guest, I have to say, in-country weddings are kind of a drag. As wonderful as it is to watch my besties embark on this new stage of their lives, having to take precious annual leave to go somewhere I’ve been a hundred times before can be exhausting. So, it might sound strange, because with a family of three, flights can cost an inordinate amount, but when a *real* destination wedding comes up, I sigh with relief. Not only is it a reason to go somewhere amazing, but I get to celebrate my friends and use my annual leave to enjoy an actual holiday. For those who think I’m onto something, here are five things you need to consider when making a vacation out of someone else’s wedding.
#1 Book holiday time before and after the wedding
Yes, the wedding is most likely happening on a Saturday evening, and it’d be all too easy just to take one straight week off work, but if you’re looking for a holiday, take time before and after the big day.
When you’re in a few days early, you can do the small solo things you’re after – like just relaxing on the beach or eating at those cosy restaurants you keep reading about, or the crazy things you know very few other people would be into (e.g. skydiving?). Having a few days to yourself lets you be you without pressure from the rest of the party.
Stay after because you’re bound to meet new people at this wedding you can’t get enough of. Give yourself time to get to know them, and go on the other adventures that work well with groups (e.g. snorkelling, hiking and dancing) instead of rushing off and back to the real world.
#2 Coordinate with your favourite people
With weddings, it’s highly likely that you’re going to be seeing a group of people that you know and love, besides the bride and groom, of course. Before the event, sit down with them and map out a plan of attack. Figure out what you can all do as a group to rekindle friendships (especially good if you’re a long, lost expat) or create bigger, better stories of debauchery that you’ll never forget.
#3 If you can’t stay for long – sample the location
Ok, annual leave can be tight, especially if this is wedding #11 for the year. You’re not made out of leave after all! So, if you want to make a holiday out of this destination wedding you’re attending, maybe think of it as a starter holiday.
Head to the centre of the place you’re at, and spend a couple of hours trying out the food, learning about local customs and figuring out what else is in the area (rarely is everything you’re going to be love found in guidebooks). Take notes of everything you’re interested and then make plans to come back!
#4 Don’t plan anything for the day after
Something, I learned the hard way is to never, ever plan anything for the day after the wedding. For my own wedding, we had planned a snorkelling trip for the day after because that was the only time everyone who wanted to go was going to be able to make it.
We should have just had two separate trips. Half of the group ended up not going because they were up to 3 AM and overslept their alarms. As for the other half, well, let’s just say that the rockin’ of the boat caused all sorts of stomach inconveniences.
And when I say don’t plan anything for the day after, I really mean it. That means no flights (you might say you’ll be in bed at midnight for your 10 AM flight, but self-control will go out the window once you’ve had a drink or two), no brunches, and definitely nothing requiring physical exertion.
#5 Stay with everyone else
If the bride and groom are helping make accommodation arrangements for their guests, go with it. Staying with other wedding attendees not only keeps you as part of the group and ensures you don’t accidentally miss out on any wedding shenanigans but builds a sense of camaraderie.
I particularly love villas for this because you own your space. You and your housemates have the run of the land. You want to run around in your pyjamas, banging on your friends’ doors? Do it. You want to skinny-dip in the pool? Go for it. You want to sit in the common areas all night, drinking wine and reminiscing? No random passerby is going to try to shush you and complain to hotel management. It’s all about just doing you.