How Much Does a Destination Wedding Actually Cost?
I get asked this question a lot, and the answer is, “It depends.” I know that’s not a very helpful answer by itself, so let’s get into some of the factors that will impact the cost of your wedding to give you a better idea of what to expect.
Destination weddings are usually less expensive than traditional weddings which average around $30k-$40k, but keep in mind this all depends on how lavish you want your wedding to be.
One of the biggest factors in the cost of having a destination wedding is the location. Destinations like the Caribbean that have all-inclusive resort options are going to be much more affordable than say Hawaii or Italy.
The time of year is also going to be an important factor. For most tropical destinations, the winter months are considered peak travel season and therefore the prices are going to be higher. To keep travel expenses down, you may want to consider choosing a date during low season like say sometime in the summer or fall.
Which resort you choose for your wedding also plays a big part in the overall cost of your celebration. Remember that some all-inclusive resorts offer free wedding packages that while simple can still be quite elegant. These free wedding packages often include things like:
An on-site wedding planner
Your ceremony location
A bouquet and boutonniere
Pre-recorded music for your ceremony
Chairs for your guests
A wedding cake
Sparking wine for a toast
With any wedding package, you always have the option to select upgrades and customize it any way you like. You’ll find that some resorts have even created wedding inspiration themes that you can check out online to make the planning process easier and help you imagine the possibilities.
From the flowers to the centerpieces to the table settings - the sky is the limit for your special day. But, like I always say, the great thing about destination weddings is that you don’t actually need to spend a lot on fancy décor since the natural setting is so beautiful by itself.
Whether or not you want to have a private reception for your guests will also play a big role in the overall cost of your wedding. It often surprises the couples I work with when I let them know that there are additional costs involved with having a dinner reception at an all-inclusive resort. The reason for this is that the resort has to pay for labor costs associated with setting up the event (e.g. dinner on the beach) and since it’s a private function, they also need to pay for separate wait/bar staff who are dedicated to specifically serving your guests.
A couple of things to note about receptions...
If you have a larger group, many of my resort partners offer group concessions that can be applied towards the cost of the wedding. This means that depending on the size of your group, you might end up not having to pay anything extra to have a private reception (or other upgrades).
And on the flip side, if you have a smaller group for your wedding, you can sometimes make a reservation at one of the regular restaurants as an alternative to having a private event, but it will depend on the exact number of guests and rules of the specific resort.
Other factors to consider for determining how much your wedding will cost are things like the type of photographer and entertainment you want to have. Choosing the most elaborate photography/videography package that includes drone footage and having a live steel band performance followed by a fire dancer are going to make the price tag of your wedding higher than choosing simpler options.
Hopefully all of this helps to explain why I started this whole thing off by saying “It depends.” The total cost of having a destination wedding can vary greatly, but I think the key is to connect with an expert, like me, who can help guide you towards the resorts and packages that will be a good fit for you.
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