If you have any interest in remaining friends with the bride in question, I definitely would not crash her wedding. I get that you “would not be going to the actual wedding,” but your presence at the resort or near where all the guests are staying would be equivalent to crashing the festivities. Not only that, but if your desire to go is to hang out with her guests, wouldn’t you be taking them away from spending time from her — you know, their reason for being there?
Look, you were already rude to not RSVP in a timely manner after being invited “far in advance.” Don’t be doubly rude by showing up where you are no longer welcome. Think how awkward it will be for the bride to know a once-invited guest — a “close friend,” no less — is actually at the destination where her wedding is but won’t be attending because she told her it was too late. How is she supposed to explain that to the other guests — your mutual friends? Your rudeness would put her in a position of feeling/looking rude. Don’t put her through that. This is her special occasion. If you really wanted to be there — either to celebrate her marriage or to enjoy a vacation with your friends — you should have RSVPd in a timely manner. You didn’t. Go somewhere else. Oh, and don’t forget to send a thoughtful gift to the bride a groom!
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter.