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Wedding bells are ringing on three continents for Jo:
I’m an American living in Barcelona, teaching English, and next summer I’ll be marrying my Irish boyfriend. As most of my family live in Brazil or the States, we thought it would be a nice treat to have the wedding in Ireland to give people an excuse to travel and get to see a bit of this side of the world.
Since we’re not living in Ireland, we wanted to save ourselves the hassle of planning a big, fancy wedding from afar, and had originally planned on making it a really casual, simple affair: outdoors in someone’s backyard, fish and chips dinner, and out to a pub somewhere.
However, as more and more of our overseas friends/family have accepted invitations, my boyfriend has started to second-guess the plan. His feeling is that if people are going to travel from Brazil and California all the way to Belfast, they deserve a ‘proper wedding’ and not just some fish and chips from a pub. I see what he means, but am not sure about what type of etiquette should be followed in this situation…
So, answer me this:
Would it be in poor taste to ask people to travel halfway across the world to attend a casual wedding? Would either of you be annoyed if you flew to Brazil or California to a friend’s wedding only to find that you were only getting beans and rice or a burger for dinner?
Hells no! We’d assume we were being treated to ‘local colour’; even if we’d flown ten hours to be greeted by a buffet of frozen pizza, we’d suppose that to be the Uzbek wedding custom. What’s more, with a headful of jetlag we’d far prefer a simple knees-up to a debutante ball.
‘Poor taste’ doesn’t even come into it! Remember: the wedding is foremost for you and your husband-elect. Furthermore, you’re not forcing people to cross an ocean for the wedding; they are choosing to do so. Make it clear to them that they should expect a relaxed celebration, and they can decide for themselves whether or not that is worth their journey. From what we understand, a large proportion of Americans are in fact eager to rediscover the Irish roots they have decided they possess, so your family might even be using your nuptuals as an excuse for a genealogy field trip.
Throw the wedding you want, but make everybody happy by amping up the Irishness. As a safety net, force-feed everybody so much Guinness that they can’t even remember that you didn’t lay on a banquet of stuffed peacock and ruddy sugared almonds.