Weddings, the bane of any 20-something guest’s pocketbook. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love a good wedding? The food is a step above cafeteria (mass produced but actually damn good), everyone is dressed to the nines (a favorite trait of yours truly) and the possibilities for where the night could go, on wings of Corinthians poets, seem limitless. But, as the couple is frequently a young couple, their collective friends are also young, and as pioneers at the start of a career, money isn’t exactly free-flowing. In my wedding going heyday, I could be caught attending up to five weddings in a summer. And not every one of them in my backyard. Cuts had to be made to make attendance possible. But don’t worry reader, I’m here to take you through one such wedding and help you appreciate that a destination wedding can be an adventure if you’re open to the experience.
I was invited to a wedding on Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest. Right off, my biggest problem was going to be getting there. As a New Yorker, getting to the other side of the country can be tricky. In my particular case, thrifty ticket buying had me flying through Chicago with a five hour layover. That layover can be a nice healthy cushion if one intends to miss the first leg of his flight (which is what I ended up doing). But despair not, I made it to Chicago on the next flight free of charge (it helps if one appears exhausted from trying to make the first flight and gets denied at the gate). Of course, it wasn’t enough of a cushion and I had to be rerouted from Chicago to Kansas City. Sitting front seat on a puddle jumper can be quite the advantageous position. It’s nice to be able to be the first one off your flight when you land… or when they announce said flight will be delayed past your future connection due to inclement weather in the destination city and that they are overbooked, so if anyone is willing to voluntarily get off they will cover them on a $500 voucher.
Now I’m rerouted through Arizona. But I have a $500 voucher to show for it. This will be useful for when I don’t use my return ticket back. But more on that later.
A big problem with an island wedding is that the island knows you have limited options on where you can stay. If you faff like I do, this problem is made worse because you’re not getting a room until most of them are taken AND you have limited the possibility of going halfsies with any of your friends.
In this particular case, rather than splitting a $250 dollar-a-night room, I was footing the bill all by myself. As I wrestled with the potential $750 hit on my wallet (not including the rental car and my now virtually-reimbursed flight) the price continued to go up. It was then that I realized my options were not limited to the only two hotels on the island.
There were campgrounds at $25 a plot.
I made room in my carry-on for a tent. TSA was very confused.
At my campground a day late and $25 richer (my flights wouldn’t get me to the island ferry until the following morning) all I can give is life-saving advice.
First, when trying to set up a tent, if you got there the way I did, chances are you don’t have a mallet for knocking in your spikes. Not to worry, the heel of a Brooks Brothers Peal & Co. wingtip will almost certainly do the trick. Tent set up, the next step is making sure you are feeling like a freshly groomed wedding attendee. If you had the foresight, and chances are you did, you were smart enough to set up camp right next to a lake. Time for a swim with shampoo and soap. Dressed and ready to go, be sure to take a few minutes for yourself to admire the stunning view. You earned this and nothing sets the wedding mood more than appreciating the beauty of the world around you.
Wedding nuptials said and done, reception drawing to a close, one can’t help but wonder where the culture went so horribly wrong when it was decided that weddings should end at midnight. For a great number of us, college was less than a decade ago and there we stayed out all night. It’s midnight and I’ve barely scratched the surface of debauchery.
Note to those still reading: don’t attempt to make off with the entire keg. You will definitely not get away with it due to its conspicuousness, though you WILL be branded a king for trying, so I suppose DO try but don’t expect much of it. The better move, as I know through experience, is to grab a bottle of wine, or four, to bring back to your camp where everyone will be hanging for the after party. Also, grab some firewood if there is some readily available.
Back at your camp, don’t be surprised or hurt when no one shows up. Somewhere between there and here, they decided to call it a night and go home. All is not lost. Your excess firewood and four bottles of red wine guarantee you a spot at anyone else’s campfire. BONUS POINTS: if it turns out that they were at the same wedding, don’t recognize you at all (nor you them), but they heard about the keg stealing incident and now get to put a face to a legend.
Driving back, six hours after your intended flight took off, don’t settle for flying with the company that gave you the voucher. $500, with some foresight, can get you far in the future. Shop around at least to see if some other airline can offer you a better deal. This will prove particularly difficult if you lose your driver’s license somewhere in the campground. I mean, they’ll sell you the ticket, but TSA can be sticklers for the whole “having an ID” thing. As it turns out, having that tent in your bag as corroboration for your story is super helpful. Being open to a strip search doesn’t hurt either. Also, don’t be afraid to affirm your particular agent’s outspoken political beliefs to show him “you’re one of the good ones,” no matter how far from reality he actually is.
So remember, your friends can go to great effort to make you jump through hoops to make their wedding but with a little ingenuity you can turn their wedding into your next great adventure.