A wedding abroad? It’s bad for the planet... and the pocket

Invitations to destination weddings can be tricky, so writes Colette Sheridan
A wedding abroad? It’s bad for the planet... and the pocket

Guests attending a wedding abroad face a large bill, and eat up their holiday quota too

AN invitation to a wedding is a bit of a two-edged sword.

There’s the compliment of being asked to celebrate the nuptials of friends, making you feel a tiny bit important, or at least, definitely not a c-lister.

The c-listers are relegated to the ‘insult’ otherwise known as the ‘afters’ where sandwiches are served and you might be offloaded with a slice of wedding cake.

The afters really are something of an after-thought for people that don’t make the grade but can’t be completely forgotten about either.

Are they expected to give a gift to the couple? It’s a bit of a minefield.

Thankfully, most of my friends are not the marrying kind so I haven’t been encumbered with the diplomatic shenanigans involved in trying to decide on a gift versus cash. I believe cash is king. (There’s no point in buying a toaster or some other kitchen implement for a couple that will most likely have been living together for years and have everything they need.)

But what is really tricky is the invitation to a destination wedding. It’s all very well if you decide to get married on a beach in Bali in flip flops and a floaty white dress. But think of the guests.

A couple may find it hard to believe, but travelling for a wedding is often seen as hassle and as expensive. 

It requires taking some of your annual leave from work, which you might really resent, having hoped to save your days off to go on a decent holiday of your own choice.

You really may not want to have to rock up somewhere in Italy for a wedding event that, in the old days, used to just take place over the course of a day.

It’s downright cheeky to assume that your friends and family will welcome a wedding abroad. While close family members have no choice but to follow the couple to a hired villa in France or wherever, friends will be counting the cost.

You’re talking a few grand (at least €2,000) which is a big ask for a guest. There’s all the logistics of getting from the airport to the wedding venue which might be hours away, somewhere deep in the Italian countryside.

Scenic and romantic? Certainly, but far from practical.

Whatever happened to the Saturday wedding in a hotel serving beef or salmon? Now, folk want to emulate celebrities with their fancy notions involving hiring a wedding planner and dragging their mates abroad because ‘it’s all about the experience’.

Yes, making memories can be expensive.

But now you have the perfect excuse to decline an invitation to a wedding in some far-flung place. It’s our old enemy – the carbon footprint.

Can you really justify a flight when at least 2.4% of global emissions come from aviation?

Together with other gases and the water vapour trails produced by aircraft, the industry is responsible for around 5% of global warming.

While that may not seem like a massive contributor, only a small percentage of the world flies frequently. It’s for the relatively rich and indulgent.

Put that on your wedding invitation refusal and you should be off the hook. (On the other hand, if you have plenty of time on your hands, you could indulge in ‘slow travel’ using boats and trains and coaches to get to the celebrations). Now that could be a great and memorable trip. But time may not be on your side.

Most of us are wage slaves unable to dedicate days and days to just travelling to a destination.

According to a BBC report, a return flight from London to San Francisco emits around 5.5 tonnes of CO2 per person, more than twice the emissions produced by a family car in a year and about half of the average carbon footprint of someone living in the UK.

Even a fairly short return flight from London to Berlin emits three times the emissions saved from a year of recycling.

A study involving 29 international students asked them to rate the importance of different flights they had taken. Just 58% of the flights were rated ‘very important’ or ‘important’.

And really, how important is a flight to the Caribbean for a wedding party?

Unless you’re close family, you’d be justified in turning down the invitation – on environmental grounds.

Some people compensate for the emissions from their flights by buying a carbon offset. But this is a bit of a cod. Trees, for example, need years to grow enough to reabsorb the carbon from your flight, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be left standing long enough to counteract your flight emissions.

That kind of thing is for the wealthy who continue contributing to climate change, offsetting, but not changing their behaviour.

The solution to destination weddings? Elope. Just the two of you.

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