How to Manage Your Destination Wedding Cost

By Jim CampbellJim CampbellJim CampbellJim is the owner of Honeymoons.com. A lifelong traveler, Jim's wanderlust has led him to spend months living on the Mayan Rivera, instruct SCUBA diving in Croatia, sail from San Diego to Hawaii, and cruise the Caribbean on a catamaran. Jim launched his honeymoon business while planning his own honeymoon in 2019. Since then, he has helped thousands of honeymooners plan their trips through his honeymoon travel agency.Meet Our Team | Updated on April 5, 2024 | Posted In: Destination Weddings


Ah, destination weddings! They sound like so much fun. Whether it’s on the beach, in the jungle, on a cruise, or inside a resort, you know it’s going to be exciting. But what about the destination wedding cost? Vacations aren’t easy on the pocket. Now imagine arranging a big event on vacation.

The destination wedding cost is the main reason not everyone does it. Ok so you don’t know exactly how much it costs but it sure sounds expensive. What if I tell you that a destination wedding doesn’t really have to be expensive? What if Katy from the office didn’t spend as much on her Caribbean wedding as you think she did? What if you can afford it too?

What is the Average Destination Wedding Cost?

There is no easy way to answer this. As you might imagine, the prices vary a lot, depending on the location, number of guests, number of days you want to stay there, the number (and grandeur) of the events, and so much more.

Considering the mean price of all these factors, the average destination wedding cost comes to about $30,000. This is for an average-sized wedding to a typical beach location in a 4+ star resort.

Compare this with the regular city wedding that costs pretty much the same. But when you tie the knot at a destination, it’s like a combination of your wedding and honeymoon, and thus saves money.

A destination wedding doesn’t always have to be in the Caribbean or the Bahamas. There are destination wedding spots in the U.S. as well. For example, if you don’t want to carry a passport with you, you can plan a Virgin Islands wedding.

How to Calculate Your Destination Wedding Cost

According to Business Insider, the average city wedding cost is about $28,000. This is quite close to the average destination wedding cost.

Destination weddings might be slightly on the higher side because there are many additional factors to consider, such as accommodation and airfare.

Most couples prefer an all-inclusive resort so they don’t have too many things to worry about. A destination wedding is like a vacation and people don’t want to micromanage everything, unlike regular weddings.

An all-inclusive deal means it will include meals, accommodation, drinks, group activities, etc. Here are some all-inclusive Sandals wedding packages you might like.

When you plan your wedding from far away, there are additional challenges, which is why it’s best to use the resort’s planner who will take care of everything using their network of vendors.

Even when you get an all-inclusive package, there’s often some scope for customization. You might want to change something from the package and the prices will be charged accordingly. Here are some factors you should consider while calculating your destination wedding cost.

Accommodation charges

All-inclusive deals come in different flavors. Cheaper packages offer cheaper rooms. Apart from that, they might not include entertainment activities open for people who get more expensive packages. Always be on the lookout for resort discounts and plan your booking around times when deals are plentiful. A great time to ake advantage of deep discounts is Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Room charges depend on the size, location, and amenities of the rooms. For example, a beachfront room will cost you more than a room that doesn’t offer beautiful views. Bridal suites are more expensive than regular rooms.

For example, at Sandals Grande Antigua, a Caribbean Deluxe room (all inclusive) will cost you $1,911. And at the same resort, a Mediterranean Ocean View Penthouse Butler suite will cost you $5,079.

Since there is variation in the costs of different accommodation types, you can save a lot of money by switching to a cheaper variant. There are cheaper resort options as well. For example, you can book a room at Iberostar at much cheaper prices.

Wedding package charges

When you contact a resort, they’ll let you know their package costs. This is the first thing you need to consider. If you’re not planning to get separate venues for the wedding and accommodation, it’s best to get a package deal. It will most probably include everything from accommodation to food to drinks.

However, a wedding package doesn’t include the airfare from your location to the hotel. They might include a bus or cab ride from the airport to the hotel.

Wedding packages are often categorized by the number of guests. If you plan to have a huge wedding, there will be a different package than if you’re planning an elopement.

Some resorts offer freebies with their packages. For example, if you stay for a minimum of 3 days at a Sandals resort, your wedding expenses will be waived. There are several other attractive packages as well.

Photography costs

Most wedding packages include photography costs. However, the photography included in the package is generally for one hour. This means a limited set of photos, so you might want to add an extra photography session as an add-on to the package.

You can either hire the resort’s photographer for another couple of hours or get your own. Before you hire your own photographer, ask the resort for their policies. They might not allow an outside photographer or may have additional charges for an outsider.

Flowers and Décor

An all-inclusive deal will include flowers and décor but what if you want something more than what the package offers? In that case, you’ll need to pay extra. Apart from flowers, you might want to add something else. Maybe some candles? Fireworks?

Most resorts will offer some basic décor and floral works in their package. You might want to upgrade it. Also, you might want better chairs, silverware, glasses, etc. All this may cost extra.

Other Features

There are several features you can add to your wedding. For example, if you’re in the Caribbean, you may want Tiki torches. Some other accents could be paper lanterns, live music, a performance, a disco ball, a wooden dance floor, etc.

All these accents will cost you extra and you need to consider these costs while calculating your destination wedding cost.

Who Will Pay For It

Travel and accommodation are customarily the guests’ responsibility. If you’re getting married in another country, they might need passports and visas. All your guests might not have them so they may not be able to attend.

Apart from that, they’ll also need proper clothes for the wedding. This expense falls on the guests as well. Considering that not everyone will be able to afford all this, you might want to contribute to the costs. While it’s not mandatory for you to arrange for their travel and accommodation, if they’re important and you think they cannot afford the trip, it’s polite to bear their expenses.

How to Choose a Wedding Destination

There are many options out there and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Most couples select a destination based on how interesting it is – what unique features it has, how many sightseeing opportunities it offers, and so on.

Make sure you select a meaningful location that’s special to both of you. Here are some of the top destination wedding locations all over the world: Jamaica, St. Lucia, Curacao, Antigua, Barbados, Bahamas, Grenada, and Turks and Caicos.

There are several others as well. Make sure you research the location before finalizing one. Also, check the resort charges of that place to make sure the destination wedding cost doesn’t get out of budget.

No matter where you want to get married, you can have an amazing ceremony if you research well and select the right resort to support you.

Decide a Budget before You Begin

This is pretty obvious. However, most couples forget about this part when they start looking. It’s easy to get enticed by the number of options available out there. Resorts will start with a basic package and increase their prices with each upgrade.

You might want to stretch your budget a bit but it’s important to know where the boundaries lie. You and your partner need to discuss how much money you both want to spend on the wedding.

For this, you can make a spreadsheet of your monthly expenses. You’ll need to start early and monitor for a few months to see how much you save each month and accordingly, how much you can afford for a wedding.

Once you’ve seen the amounts and have a fair idea of your expenses and savings, you can create a wedding budget accordingly.

Tips for Managing Your Destination Wedding Cost

Once you have finalized one location, here are some tips to keep the costs under the budget.

Keep a flexible wedding date

Unless you want to tie the knot on a specific date (for example, your grandparent’s anniversary), it’s best to keep it flexible. Popular destinations are high in demand during the tourist season, so if you have flexible dates, you can find the right season when the weather is pleasant but it’s not too touristy. This will also save money as resorts get cheaper in the non-tourist season.

Manage the guest list

The number of guests will affect the wedding package offered by the resort. Also, if you want to read the vows at a remote venue with limited space, you won’t be able to invite too many guests. You’ll need to trim the guest list accordingly.

If you want to invite many guests, it’s best to select a local venue. This way, more people will be able to afford to come to your wedding. Here’s a guide to tying the knot in Florida.

Request no gifts

Since your guests will incur expenses to attend your wedding (flight tickets and possibly accommodation), it’s best to mention on the invitation card that their presence is your present. If you have a wedding website, mention it there as well.


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