As with anything you plan or do in your life, there will be those that can't resist giving their opinion about how to do it: better, cheaper, faster. There will be those that give advice just because they want to be a part of your process and those that don't know how to keep their mouths shut. I think that pregnancy and child-rearing are probably the most abundant instances of people spreading their opinions like wildfire (asked for or not), but a wedding definitely comes close second. And it takes the cake for "the event that people have the most opinions on." There are friends that want to wear different dresses, mothers of the bride that have a lengthy guest list they want fulfilled, grandmothers that want tradition involved, and on and on. Dealing with the dissenters is just a part of the entire planning process, welcomed or not.
Your rate of complainers usually exponentially increases when you say the word "destination wedding." There are angry bridal forums aplenty dedicated to the horror that is the destination wedding: "don't make your guests fly out," "it's not all about you," "what a financial hardship." You can read them endlessly but the gist is this: if you choose to get married in an inconvenient location for your guests, they're going to voice their opinion about the extra financial expense and time commitment you've just asked for. The same bubbling up of complaints comes up with any non-traditional route: a small wedding of under 50 guests, an elopement, a circus themed affair... you get the picture.
When Ben and I said "Hawaii," my family was thrilled. They live in Hawaii. It meant that their flights would be significantly cheaper than flying here to Oregon. They have friends in the islands who'll put them up in a house, eroding their hotel cost. My maid of honor and Ben's friends (that have time and money to play) did a jump for joy - A vacation. In Hawaii. Yes! Ben and I started thinking about long, white-sand beaches and a week of laying out in the sun basking in everything tropical. It felt very perfect for us, an escape from the dreary rain and a wedding that would be a memorable week of celebrations on an island.
A word of advice to those prone to dramatic destination nuptials - if you do want to spend your wedding on some foreign (or domestic) shore, be sure to communicate clearly with your bridal party and determine whether or not the trip will be doable, a financial hardship, or something they can commit to. If not, be kind to relieve them of the burden. Ben and I entered into every conversation with our small group of attendees with the phrase "we understand that this may make it difficult for many people to attend, and we fully understand (and will not be offended) if you decline to attend our wedding." Our goal was not to ship a bunch of people to the islands, rather the opposite, to concentrate a small group of very close loved ones and friends.
But no matter the amount of time you spend assuring your attendees that they do not have to make the trek across a continent and ocean (or renew a passport for the foreign destination weddings), the complaints will start frothing and spurting, like a science fair volcano of whines. My favorite complaint was: "I could have bought a new set of tires for my car, but instead I have to come to your wedding." Another? "You shouldn't ask anyone for gifts as you're already creating a hardship on them by inviting them." Or: "I would have preferred you eloped instead of making us fly to Hawaii. " The complaint river has been deep among some that are attending our tiny affair.
I've had suggestions that ran from "why don't you have it in (insert attendees hometown here) instead?" or "you should be paying for everyone's flight out there" to "I know of a free church you can get married in here." And for the most part we've just let those kind of wash over us and into a bin of "nevermind" comments. At some point you need to accept that not everyone's going to agree with your decision and for some people that disagreement comes out verbally. Perhaps it makes your attendees feel better about attending if they can kvetch to you. Or perhaps it makes them feel that they've done their part to dissuade you from whatever you choose.
In the end, the only thing that matters is: are you closest loved ones attending? Are you happy with what you're spending your hard-earned money on? If you're unhappy getting married in a free church in your home-town, then it's hardly worth the reprieve from some sturdy complainers. Are you over-the-moon about getting married on a beach surrounded by your best friends in the world? Then let those folks that couldn't buy a new set of tires just roll off your back. Anyone rude enough to complain to you about a very expensive and time-consuming event planning experience should be disregarded anyway for bad manners.
As Ben and I approach the three-months-away mark, most people have purchased their tickets to Hawaii and arranged their hotels. There's little room left for griping about "should we or should we not" and we seem to be falling into some pattern of attendee acceptance. The few comments here and there, the little "expensive" whispers and jibs, are starting to feel extremely irrelevant as I get closer and closer to the day. I know that we've planned something that's going to be beautiful and perfect for just us.
In summary - embrace your decisions and don't let other people's opinions sway you from doing that which you're excited about. The wedding, after all, is about you, your fiance, and your close family members. Don't make it about aunts that can't resist giving you a piece of their mind or the fiance of a childhood friend that has a terrible inability to quiet down about her opinions.