Destination weddings are known for being more affordable than most traditional weddings, and that is mostly because they usually have a smaller number of guests. However, the tab can start to creep up for both the bride and groom and especially for guests. Once you throw in the plan to have a reception at home and budget friendly wedding seems to be nothing but a dream. It can still be done! You just have to be careful with certain decisions early on to help save money on a destination wedding. It took my fiancé and I almost 11 months to decide on the country we would get married in. It was ridiculous. And I think I looked at every hotel, rental home, and vacation property in the Caribbean. I’m not even exaggerating. There were a few things that limited our choices a bit, thank goodness- or I would have been searching the entire world. Here are some money saving tips for a destination wedding.
1. Fly into a “touristy” airport:
We wanted a location that was, at most, two flights for our guests. A flight with two layovers is a lot of traveling just for guests to make it to the wedding. We also wanted the flights to be less than 500 dollars for most or all of our guests. They are coming from a variety of places, but flying into a larger airport, or high tourist area can save you some money on flights rather than flying into a remote airport. You also have to think about how you will be getting from the airport to the wedding location. The resort we will be getting married at offers a shuttle for large groups for really cheap! At first, we were dead set on getting married where we got engaged in Costa Rica, but the flights- and then traveling from the airport would have been a huge hassle and we would have had to rent multiple cars- even more expense!
2. Keep it in the Country:
We didn’t follow this rule, but remember that guests will have to get their passports if you are having your wedding outside of the country. A destination wedding on the beaches of Florida- Honeymoon Island, North or South Carolina (just to name a few). We found that most of these places would have cost the same if not more than a wedding in a different country- if we chose that country wisely.
3. Choose a popular destination wedding location:
Choosing a place that is familiar with destination weddings is sometimes helpful. The most affordable places overall, for guests as well as the bride and groom that I’ve found, are Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. All of these countries have both large all-inclusive resorts that host weddings as well as smaller resort options. I also looked into renting a vacation home in Costa Rica or the Bahamas.
4. Book Early and Look for Deals:
We booked our wedding venue over a year out. The price of the rooms and wedding costs have already increased just from when we booked the venue, but we are locked in for the prices as they were when we reserved the place.
5. Say “No” to gifts:
In order to keep the costs down for our guests, we do not want gifts for our wedding. I also did not have a bridal shower, and we skipped the engagement party too.
6. Keep the Guest List Small:
This will make every single aspect more affordable. It’s tricky to keep the list small and ours slowly expanded as time went on, but we are still only expecting between 35-40 guests.
7. Ask if the Wedding Planner is Included:
You will need a lot of help to plan a wedding from thousands of miles away. A wedding planner is necessary, but most resorts include them with your wedding.
The wedding planner I have been working with has been super helpful and we have been able to plan a lot of the details through e-mail. She is willing to plan everything from the decorations to the welcome bags (for an extra fee of course). I don’t mind planning all of these details, but some people might like the ease of just letting someone else take care of everything. Also, realize you will have to help people with travel plans and all of the logistics that go along with a destination wedding to keep your guests at ease!
For us, the easiest places for our guests to travel to would be anywhere on the east coast or places in the Caribbean. After figuring out a general idea of costs for each place we narrowed it down to the east coast of Mexico, Jamaica, or Florida. Adam and I had kind of ruled out getting married in the U.S. – sorry guys! So that left Mexico and Jamaica…I have much more desire to travel to Mexico than to Jamaica, so that (finally) settled the wedding destination country. Mexico here we come! You can read more about our wedding venue here!
Are you planning a destination wedding?
Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.