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You know those phrases that you understand generally, but have a hard time defining exactly? Like “dry martini,” “hedge fund,” or “city comptroller.” You may have heard of “escort cards,” but actually have no idea what they are. (Place cards with only a name and table number!) Falling under the same hard-to-define category is the destination wedding. You may have been to one, but what exactly made it a “destination”? What counts as a destination wedding?

If a destination wedding happens and no one calls it a destination wedding, did the travel required go unnoticed? You may have found yourself booking more planes, trains, and automobiles for that wedding on a farm in Vermont than you did for your New York-based cousin’s celebration in London. Most people would agree that the London wedding is a destination — it’s in another country, you need ample time to travel there, and the couple is not based there. But the five-and-a-half hours it takes you to get up to Lake Champlain can be as exhausting as the seven-hour flight to London, especially if you’re driving.

Is a destination wedding simply any wedding for which you ask your guests to travel, or do there need to be palm trees and rum punches involved? Is it there a particular distance that makes a wedding “destination”? Proximity to the nearest airport? Does your head hurt thinking about this? Let’s break it down.

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How Far Is The Wedding From The Couples’ Home Base?
If the couple getting hitched lives in San Francisco and they’re having their wedding in Oakland, this is not a destination wedding. Even if you and the majority of their other college friends live in New York. Couples get priority because, you know, it’s their wedding day and all. Plus, SF is a major U.S. city and Oakland has an airport too. But if this SF couple decided to have their wedding on the East Coast, there would be different considerations.

How Many Forms Of Transportation Does It Take To Get There?
People often assume that a destination wedding requires a flight, but there other transportation factors to consider. If you’re asking guests to take a plane to Rhode Island, then find an Uber to get to a ferry to get out to Block Island where your wedding is, you should treat your wedding like a destination. Have events planned for the entire weekend. Are two or more forms of transportation that over an hour each required? That’s a destination. Perhaps you could have an additional event planned for each mode of transportation your guest has to take?

Do Most People Have To Travel To Get There?
At first, a New York City wedding sounds like the opposite of a destination wedding, but what if the couple lives in Los Angeles? That’s a long trip for the couple, and would constitute a destination wedding. However, if the groom’s family is from New York, the wedding is not considered a destination wedding, because a good chunk of the guests will be in the area already.

At the end of the day, it comes down to so pretty simple considerations. Are you asking the majority of your guests to travel someplace? Does it require more than four hours of transportation? Is it not your home base or either of your families’? If you answered yes to two or more of those questions, you’re probably hosting a destination wedding.

While it’s not quite the same as asking everyone to jetset to Hawaii for your wedding, you can still make the travel worthwhile. Plan welcome drinks, a post-wedding brunch, and give your guests as much travel and lodging info as you would if you were getting married in Tulum, and you’ll be in great shape. Happy travels!

Written by: Kimmy Foskett

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