How much does a destination wedding cost?
Captivated by the idea of exchanging vows in a Lake Como villa or on a tropical beach surrounded by friends and family? Then a destination wedding is the answer. While it may be within the budget of some couples, for many the decision to have a destination wedding comes down to cost.
So what makes destination weddings more expensive? Is the couple responsible for covering some costs for the guests? Are there alternatives to a distant destination wedding? We’ve got the answers, plus some tips from an award-winning wedding planner.
Average cost of a destination wedding
The total cost of a destination wedding varies. Prices depend on location, number of days, number of events, US dollar to local currency exchange rate, time of year, number of guests, etc. That said, the estimated average base cost of a destination wedding hovers around $35,000.
What Influences the Cost of a Destination Wedding
A destination wedding has the same essential elements as a local wedding. You will need invitations, a dress, rings, a venue, a caterer, a florist, music, a photographer, a cake and an officiant. Travel, accommodations, group activities, little extras, and a full-service destination wedding planner are the factors that will end up costing more.
Planning a wedding remotely comes with its own set of additional challenges and logistics, so hire a planner who has experience with destination weddings and a trusted network of local vendors.
However, there are some details about destination weddings that could save you money. Destinations in countries where the exchange rate works in your favor will usually end up being cheaper because your money will go further.
who pays what
Usually, travel and accommodation are the responsibility of the guests. Depending on the location, your destination wedding may include airfare, a few nights in a hotel, meals and entertainment outside of the wedding itself, and local transportation. Additionally, they may need to purchase clothing appropriate to the location and may need to take days off.
Given these expenses (and the fact that everyone is from out of town), you may want to arrange additional meals and events such as a welcome dinner, cocktail party or farewell brunch. You certainly don’t have to rent a car for anyone, but coordinating group transportation to and from the various events is a thoughtful touch, especially if alcohol is being served.
Ask the hotel or hotels if transportation to and from the airport is offered. If not, you might consider covering this cost for your guests.
If you would like to welcome your guests with a basket of goodies, a personal note and a preview of the wedding weekend, ask the hotel to deliver to the rooms upon check-in. Fill them with local items like snacks and fruit, wine and bubbles, or any other tokens you wish. That’s how happy you are that they made the trip to celebrate with you.
Tips for a destination wedding
You have chosen a spectacular wedding venue. Now is the time to read some helpful tips for planning a destination wedding.
Manage your guest list.
The number of guests will influence your decisions on everything, starting with the location. If you have your heart set on a remote location or a venue with limited space, you’ll need to be a bit stricter with your guest list. If you can’t shorten your guest list, consider a destination close to your hometown. “We offer what we call ‘local destinations’ – places that are close to where the couple lives, but which may require overnight guests,” says wedding planner Holly Olsen. “Guests feel like they’re attending a destination wedding, but they didn’t have to fly.”
Meet the expert
Holly Olsen is the founder of Seattle’s Perfectly chic events. With over a decade of professional experience planning and designing over 300 weddings, Holly and Perfectly Posh Events have been named Seattle’s Top Wedding Coordinator, Top Wedding Planner, Top Wedding Salesperson by Seattle Bride Magazine .
Consider the date of your wedding.
If you have a popular destination at heart, avoid the high season crowds and book your wedding during a quieter time for the area. A spring or fall shoulder season will have the best airfare and room prices for your guests, and you’ll likely get your preferred dates (and possibly a better deal) on your site.
Create a wedding website.
Create your wedding website as soon as your venue and dates are confirmed. If you’re not arranging all of your guests’ travel and meals, provide plenty of choice and detail so they can make their own arrangements. List luxury, mid-range and budget hotel suggestions and include all blocks of hotel rooms or pre-arranged flights from gateway cities with contact details and booking codes. Provide local transportation options, restaurants, sights, event details, average destination temperatures, special clothing needs, and dress code for your wedding.
Send your reservation dates with wedding details and website information nine to 12 months in advance to give your guests time to determine if they can attend. It’s helpful to include start and end dates for your entire weekend.
Consider not asking for any gifts.
Considering the expense your guests might incur to attend the wedding, you may want to mention the phrase “your presence is our gift” on your website and invitations. Otherwise, if a guest wants to give you a gift, they should have it. delivered to your home before the wedding.