How to Save Money on a Destination Wedding

August 22, 2008

Jetting off to an exotic location surrounded by your closest friends and family may not sound like a cheap way to tie the knot, but the truth is it can actually cost far less than a traditional wedding.

If you are interested in planning a destination wedding, then here are eight tips to save you even more money on the happiest day of your life.

  1. Give yourself as much time to plan as possible – Booking your flights and hotels as far in advance as possible will save a considerable amount of money for you and your guests. Keep in mind that when you plan a destination wedding, the polite thing to do is to pay the hotel and some meal expenses for your guests. Guests at a destination wedding are typically expected to pay for their own flights, but not much else.

  2. Consider hiring a travel agency instead of a wedding planner – Travel agents can often get you, and your wedding party an excellent deal on almost everything. Many of them are also familiar with the marriage laws in foreign destinations. Hiring someone to take care of these things for you will save you time, stress, and money in the long run.

  3. Consider getting married in the off-season – Flights, hotels and nearly everything you can imagine will be cheaper this way. Now, I am not telling you to get married on a beach in the middle of winter! If you can time your wedding just before, or just after the area’s peak season, then all of the associated discounts are yours for the taking.

  4. Keep your guest list small – Having a destination wedding gives you the perfect excuse to pare down your guest list. After all, not everyone is going to be able to take off work and travel to your wedding – no matter how much they might want to. By keeping your guest list to the bare minimum (i.e. the wedding party, close family, and best friends) you will have the people there that really matter to you and your future spouse, and you will get to spend a lot more time with them before and after the ceremony.

  5. Always ask for a group discount – Both hotels and airlines offer excellent group discount rates when you have parties of ten or more. The best way to maximize your money is to combine group rates with early bookings and off-season specials. If you can manage to do all of those things, then you could save as much as 40% off of your total travel costs.

  6. Consider getting married at a resort, or on a cruise – Destination resorts and even some cruise ships often keep a wedding planner on staff. The planner they provide to you will already be familiar with the local caterers, bakeries and florists, and they can usually help you save money on every aspect of your dream wedding.

  7. Buy a “package deal” – Destination resorts also usually offer pre-planned wedding packages where all you have to do is make a few decisions, and then show up for the big day. The wedding packages range from simple and elegant, to the truly extravagant. If you take some time to research online, and call around, then you should not have any trouble finding a package that fits your needs, and your budget.

  8. Give simple favors to your guests – Suntan lotion, local chocolates and specialties, or even a group scuba trip are all nice ways to treat your guests to the local culture and encourage them to have fun – without spending a ton of money.

Don’t be fooled:

Paying for your wedding guest’s food and lodging might seem outrageously expensive, but if you put it in perspective, it’s really not. Consider this:

If you stayed at home, rented a church, and had a large traditional wedding with a sit down reception you could end up paying upwards of $50 – $100 per guest. Getting married locally would encourage everyone you knew to attend, so that $50 to $100 per person could easily turn into $5,000 – $10,000 dollars if you have close to 100 guests.

A destination wedding on the other hand, requires only that you pay for the hotel rooms and several of your guest’s meals. Some resorts will even offer you a free wedding package in exchange for booking your group into their hotel!

If you took ten people to your destination wedding, and paid an average of $500 each, you would still only be out $5,000 on your guests. And you would have a more intimate, romantic setting for everyone involved.

Where ever you choose to have your destination wedding please be sure that you give yourself and your guests enough time to get passports, book flights and take off of work. This will be one of the most special days of your entire life. Careful planning will not only make things run smoother, but will save you a lot of money in the end.

Check back for the next article in the series where we look at how to save money when planning a wedding yourself or hiring a wedding planner

These tips on saving money on a destination wedding are part of the Marriage Money Guide.


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12 Responses to How to Save Money on a Destination Wedding

  • James

    This is a really good way to have an inexpensive and more intimate wedding ceremony. My wife and I went to Okinawa to get married and was beautiful. Although, in our case we basically eloped because we couldn’t my family out there so out of fairness we didn’t take her’s either.

  • Ben

    Maiku, sorry to hear you had such troubles with the destination wedding but I’m glad to hear everything worked out.

  • Maiku

    Hi, I found this from Milliondollarjourney’s site.

    This is a really good way to have an inexpensive and more intimate wedding ceremony. My wife and I went to Okinawa to get married and was beautiful. Although, in our case we basically eloped because we couldn’t my family out there so out of fairness we didn’t take her’s either.

    Also, I really liked your advice about finding a travel agent that knows about the local marriage laws. We had so many problems to do with our documentation it caused us a lot of grief (including getting divorced before we were even married). But in the end everything worked out.

  • Phil

    Wow, for 5000 i can make a normal wedding here in Brazil (church, party with family and friends), so that’s a no no for me.

    Looking forward to your next articles as i am about to get married next year!

  • SarahB

    Thats a great idea. I’d never even considered a destination wedding as a choice. It really can come out to be less expensive and more fun too since your with fewer people. So much less hassle.

    Sarah B


    Check out this funny video, called “Ballad of a Traveler”, it is hilarious. He totally sums up the travelers experience:


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