Deciding where to have your dream destination wedding can be exciting yet overwhelming. You may be fantasizing about getting married on a sandy beach in Hawaii or having an extravagant European getaway. However, getting married in another state or out of the country can get costly. Being financially prepared and creating a destination wedding budget is a must to prevent overspending.
Most often, couples correlate this scenario with high costs and usually deem that it's unattainable to have their dream wedding as a result. However, there are some amazing tips and tricks to keep in your arsenal that can help you stick with your wedding budget.
These budgeting tips will save you money (and stress!) during your wedding planning process. Our advice? Don’t write off your dream destination wedding just yet. Here's how to have the wedding of your dreams without blowing your wedding budget.
Plan your dream destination wedding during non-peak times
Believe it or not, most destination wedding costs depend on when you decide to host your big day—specifically, the day of the week or month of the year. Opting for the middle of the week rather than a highly-coveted weekend day could mean some substantial savings. Weekdays are considered non-peak days, and since your guests will likely already be taking time off to celebrate, this option could make sense for you. Also, opting to get married in winter or spring versus summer or fall could save you a considerable amount of money as well.
Pay close attention to your destination’s event calendar to prevent scheduling on expensive dates. Just as the U.S .celebrates major holidays, the country or region you choose may also have a holiday that overlaps with your wedding. This could create conflicts with travel arrangements, potentially increasing costs and impacting your destination wedding budget. Schedule your wedding during non-peak times for big savings.
Stay on top of your wedding budget by booking things in bulk
A common misconception among travelers is that paying for a wedding is more manageable and often cheaper when done in increments rather than all at once.
This can be true for smaller costs such as your wardrobe, transportation once you get to your destination, or food – however, you will actually save more money by bundling your major wedding expenses together at once. For instance, your venue, airfare, hotel accommodations, and any additional resort costs could be in one bundle. By booking these together right off the bat, you’ll usually be in luck to get a much lower rate.
Some other specific costs to consider booking together in bulk include:
- Your wedding catering costs, wedding decor costs, DJ costs, and ceremony costs. Bundle these together into a destination wedding package.
- Wedding hair and makeup for you and your bridesmaids. Sometimes your wedding photography can be part of this package too.
- Your wedding and honeymoon package including tours and activities (many wedding destination resorts offer this too!).
Book in bulk to stick to your destination wedding budget.
Be smart about the cost of communication while you're away
Saving money on communications during the wedding is often overlooked by couples until the last minute. This results in astronomical cell phone bills and unnecessary add-ons to your data plan. Free texting apps like WhatsApp and Viber run on WiFi (which most all-inclusive resorts will have throughout the property), so there’s no need to buy an international plan while you’re away.
Better yet, apps like WhatsApp and Viber now also include free calling and video chat on WiFi. Even if you’re planning to go ‘off-the-grid, these are great tools to communicate with your guests who will be attending your event.
Rent the runway for your wedding dress
Renting a dress can actually be a great option, especially for a destination wedding trip. You can get a stunning designer wedding dress for a fraction of the cost, which will save you a ton of money purchasing an expensive dress for a one-day event.
Multiple companies, like Rent the Runway, for instance, now offer such rentals. This can help take some of the financial pressure off of your wedding. It may seem a little strange at first glance, but renting a stunning, beyond-expectations dress for your wedding day can soften the blow to your wallet and make your big day that much sweeter. Plus, you'll look fabulous!
Research the hidden marriage fees at your destination
Most couples don’t realize that marrying abroad can require additional fees that may not be on your radar. While this depends on the country you’re planning to marry in, it's important to know these costs. For example, in some countries, getting a marriage license might require specific steps to be approved.
Filing costs, health screenings, and other fees can also factor in. This, in turn, could cost more money than if you were getting married locally. Research thoroughly early on to reduce costs.
Additionally, U.S. territories are significantly lower in cost since they don’t require extensive screening if you’re already a citizen. Create an itemized list to help you allocate your wedding budget.
Tips to stretch your destination wedding budget
You can still have your dream destination wedding and stretch your budget if you do it right. Finding frugal ways to save on your wedding can ensure you don't overspend and may give you extra money for the honeymoon stay.
Search for low-cost or free places to get married
Some wedding venues can cost thousands of dollars alone! Book a low-cost place or even find a free place to get hitched, such as a park or the beach. Even if the park charges to rent shelters, it will more than likely be a fraction of an expensive building. Again checking wedding venues during the off-season will also save you big bucks.
Save on the photographer
Of course, you need to have pictures of your beautiful dream wedding, but professional photographers are expensive. Ask a friend or family member if they can photograph your big day. Another budget-friendly idea is to put disposable cameras on all of the tables at the reception for your guests to take pictures. This destination wedding budget tip can save you $2500-$5000 on a photographer!
Beauty on a budget
Save money on your destination wedding budget and find a relative or friend that is good at makeup and hair. Hiring a beautician for you and your bridesmaids can get pricey. You can even pair off and do each other's hair instead of dedicating it to just one person. There are quality brands of makeup that are also budget-friendly that you can buy. Plus, you have amazing makeup for your collection too.
Purge your guest list
Save thousands of dollars and purge your guest list. It may sound bad, but it's necessary to do to stretch your budget. Feeding guests is super expensive, and it's not always the more, the merrier. The average cost for a plated catered wedding is $100-$200 per person! Not to mention all the other guest expenses!
Honestly, the more people you have, the less time you have to socialize at all. Some people have so many guests they don't even get time to speak to everyone! Simplify your guest list, save money and stress.
Start saving as soon as possible
The last thing you want to do is start your married life out in a ton of debt because you didn't save enough and stick with your destination wedding budget. The best thing to do once you are engaged is to start saving as much as possible. This means you need to create your wedding budget and then break it down into smaller savings goals.
For example, let's say your budget is $20,000 total, and you plan on getting married in two years. $20,000 divided by 24 months is $834.00 a month. So, you will need to save about $210 a week to reach your savings goal.
Open a savings account specifically for your dream destination wedding fund, so you aren't tempted to spend that money. Find ways to cut other monthly expenses so you have more money to save. Another way to boost your savings faster is to start a side hustle and bring in more income.
When deciding to plan a destination wedding, one of the top mistakes is not preparing yourself financially and skimping on important research. If this option is really in the cards for you and your soon-to-be spouse, and money is the real issue at hand, pace yourself! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a longer engagement to ensure that your wedding will have a huge payoff. Knowing the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them is half the battle.
Have your dream destination wedding on a budget
The key to sticking to your destination wedding budget is planning ahead and using these budgeting techniques to prevent you from overspending. You don't have to bust your budget to have the wedding of your dreams. Besides, the more money you save, the more money you have for an extended honeymoon or even a down payment towards a house. Learn how to plan a fabulous destination wedding on a budget with our completely FREE course.