How to Plan an Affordable
Destination Wedding

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Dreaming of a destination wedding and planning and paying for one are often two different things entirely. You may have desired one for years but feel discouraged now that you’re engaged and understand what it takes to pull one off. In addition to precision planning, a destination wedding can be expensive if the two of you aren’t careful. The good news is that you can save significant cash and have the destination wedding you have always wanted by following some or all of the tips below.

Start with the Location

The whole point of a destination wedding is to travel to another part of the country to get married that you might not have the opportunity to see again. You will need to weigh your desire to visit that state with the likelihood of it being an extremely popular tourist destination. Here are the most popular locations in the United States for a destination wedding:

The popularity of these destinations and the intense competition between wedding venues and vendors works in your favor when it comes to pricing. Of course, you have the whole country to chose from and you just might find some obscure place that makes the perfect backdrop for a wedding.

Consider Booking an All-Inclusive Wedding Package

Although planning your wedding away from home can be more challenging, it also presents the opportunity to pay one price for everything. Back home, you will need to arrange every detail from the floral arrangements to the photographer to booking a venue for your reception. With an all-inclusive wedding package, you pay one fee for literally everything involved in your big day.

All-inclusive resorts that cater to couples getting married typically include the following:

  • Wedding and reception venues including all decorations
  • Honeymoon lodging
  • Flowers
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Meals for all guests at the reception

When you don’t have to pay for each wedding service separately, it leaves more in the budget to travel to your preferred destination in the first place. The greatest area of savings tends to be not having to pay the meal price of every guest.

Travel and Wedding Costs May Be Lower in Off Seasons

Other regions of the United States may have different seasonal patterns than what you are accustomed to at home. The Midwest has very cold winters, for example, while southern states tend to stay warm all year long. This is something to take into serious consideration before finalizing your destination.

Planning your destination wedding on a holiday weekend gives both you and your guests an extra day for travel. Unfortunately, the airlines as well as resorts and hotels often take this opportunity to increase rates dramatically. They know that more people are looking to travel and that most are willing to pay more to do so during the holidays. On the other hand, choosing to travel and get married on a weekday can save you considerable money.

Trim the Guest List as Much as Possible

The advantage of leaving your hometown to get married is that you can keep your guest list small without hurting anyone’s feelings. After all, your co-workers and distant relatives probably wouldn’t be able to justify the cost of travel anyway. The less guests you must pay to feed and entertain, the more affordable the entire destination wedding will be.

A non-financial benefit of reducing your guest list is that a smaller setting is more intimate and can make for a more memorable experience. You and your fiancé are sharing your love and commitment with those who truly mean the most to you. With wedding guest lists and budgets, keep the mantra in mind that bigger doesn’t always mean better.

Combine Your Destination Wedding with Your Honeymoon

Traveling to one location for a wedding and another for a honeymoon would be cost-prohibitive for most couples. When researching where you might want to get married, consider whether you would also like to spend several days there after your wedding for a honeymoon.

It’s a common practice for hotels in destination wedding cities to offer honeymoon packages that provide discounts on lodging for couples who get married on the hotel’s property. Keep in mind that hotels, condos, and other types of lodging can be located in some beautiful locations across the country. Think cabins in the mountains of Colorado and resorts on the beaches of Florida. Even after your wedding is over, you will have wonderful memories of it while you enjoy your honeymoon and first days of married life.

Consider Eliminating Decorations in Favor of Natural Beauty

If you’re getting married on the beach or in the mountains, the beauty of the surroundings outshines anything you could buy. You might even be able to talk down the price of an all-inclusive wedding package if you decide not to display any decorations. If you’re buying everything you need for your wedding separately, skipping streamers, artificial wedding bells, and the like can be a real budget-saver.

Look for a Wedding Venue That Includes a Planning Assistant

Even if you’re an extremely detail-oriented person, planning a wedding from afar is not an easy task. When searching for wedding venues, especially those with all-inclusive offers, find out if a wedding planner is part of the deal.

In addition to giving you a virtual hand and keeping your stress to a manageable level, the wedding planner is part of the local community. That means he or she knows which vendors to choose and can warn you about things you might not even think of such as whether the location has a high crime rate.

Give Guests Plenty of Advanced Notice

Having the people you love the most travel with you to the destination wedding location is part of its appeal. It would be a shame if several of them could not make it due to scheduling conflicts. The best way to avoid this is to send a Save the Date card in the mail up to one year in advance of your wedding.

As the date gets closer, send the actual invites and stress in a polite way that you would appreciate a prompt RSVP. You will need an actual head count for a destination wedding a lot sooner than you would for one in the local community.

Keep Guests Updated on Travel and Wedding Plans with a Wedding Website

Signing up on a wedding website and then forwarding login and password information to your guests is an efficient way to keep everyone in the loop. This is where you would want to share such details as which airports to use, the airline with the lowest current fares, weather in the destination city, and recommendations on where to find accommodations upon landing. Working with such a website frees up your time from having to email or call each guest separately and repeat the same information.

Obtain Lower Prices by Using Your Group Size to Bargain

Resorts in popular cities for weddings and all of the major airlines love to work with large groups. This is easy to understand when you consider it from their perspective. Instead of having to sell the same service to a few dozen different people, they complete a single transaction and make the same amount of money.

Some service providers will offer group discounts to entice people to buy while others will require you to ask for them. Even those in the second category are unlikely to turn you down when they see how much of a profit they stand to gain by your group flying or lodging with them.

Read the Fine Print on Free Destination Weddings

A common tactic of resorts in destination wedding cities is to offer basic all-inclusive wedding packages if the bride, groom, and a minimum number guests agree to stay a specified amount of time. This can be a good option if you’re in the market for something very simple and inexpensive. However, it isn’t always the good deal that it appears. If you don’t meet the specific conditions of the resort, you could end up spending more money than you would have otherwise.

One of the first things to ask if you’re considering signing up for this type of deal is whether the resort requires a certain number of nights to receive the free wedding package. If so, consider that not all of your guests may be able to afford to stay as long as the resort requires.

There may also be a limit on the number of guests you can invite and where everyone will eat after the meal. If you want any privacy at all, you will probably have to pay extra for it. Lastly, you may end up paying a higher than normal price if it turns out that you do want some extras not included in your basic free wedding package. Just be sure to do your homework to find out whether this truly is the best deal for your situation.

Don’t Forget to Show Appreciation for Your Guests

The people attending your wedding likely took on a big expense to do so, including paying for airline tickets, rental cars, lodging, and a wedding gift. If employed, they had to use vacation time at work or take unpaid time off in order to be there for your big day. That shows real commitment and genuine love for you and your fiancé.

To show your guest how much you appreciate their sacrifices and value their presence, consider welcoming them to your wedding destination with a special gift from the local area. It should be something you can’t buy back home to be truly special. If you and your guests travel to the destination city together, slip away on your own to purchase the gifts to ensure that it remains a surprise.

You will also want to show consideration for your guests by not over scheduling their time since they may not have another chance for a vacation this year. There is no rule that you need to spend every day together and most people probably wouldn’t want to anyway.

Find out in advance how much free time your guests desire and then look up information for attractions you know they might enjoy. They may not be with you as they explore other areas at the destination wedding location, but they will remember your thoughtfulness as they enjoy their vacation.

Your destination wedding is not only possible but challenging yourself to save as much money as possible can actually be fun. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage.

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