Your loved one proposed, and you said yes. Now starts the overwhelming task of planning your wedding. Cue the incoming questions: “Have you set a date?” “Will kids be invited?” “When are you registering?” “Did you choose a venue yet?”
All the bombarding inquiries from friends and family are innocent enough, but they can also be overwhelming enough to drive a freshly engaged bride into panic mode. If you’re feeling taken over by wedding planning or you simply want to celebrate your wedding somewhere new, then a destination wedding might be the right choice for you.
Many couples choose a destination wedding for a slew of reasons. For example, a bride that’s always dreamed of a beach wedding but lives in Chicago may choose to look outside her local community for a wedding destination.
If you’re dreaming of a destination wedding but are worried about the price tag, then this guide on how to plan a destination wedding on a budget is perfect for you. We’ll discuss the following advice to help you achieve the day of your dreams without breaking the bank.
- Combine your wedding and honeymoon
- Keep an elopement mentality—even if you don’t elope
- Plan for the off-season
- Pick a destination that’s off the beaten path
- Choose a place with a natural backdrop
- Keep your bridal party small
- Consider an all-inclusive option
- Avoid weekends
- Throw out the rule book
- Communicate that you’re keeping things small
Combine Your Wedding and Honeymoon
One way to stick to a strict budget while enjoying the destination wedding of your dreams is to have a combined wedding and honeymoon.
Instead of jetting off to your wedding, then leaving for somewhere else, extend the stay. If you plan on inviting guests, ask them to stay for the weekend or the week of your wedding, then once they leave, you and your new spouse can stay an additional week and enjoy the gorgeous location while celebrating your marriage together.
Keep an Elopement Mentality—Even If You Don’t Elope
Even if you don’t want to elope, starting the planning process with an elopement mentality can help you significantly reduce costs. What this means is that you will plan the wedding as if you and your fiancé are the only ones attending. This helps prioritize necessities at your wedding and ensures the guest list reflects only the most essential people in your lives.
Fewer people are willing to travel long distances for weddings, so a destination wedding is bound to have a limited guest list anyway.
Plan for the Off-Season
Every destination has a tourist season and an off-season. Plan your wedding for the off-season if you can. Not only will the price tag be reduced, but you may also have fewer crowds to handle while you’re there. Do your due diligence when it comes to research—don’t just book an off-season wedding in Buenos Aires without checking the reason it’s an off-season first. You just might end up discovering an emptied city and closed vendors due to heat!
Pick a Destination That’s Off the Beaten Path
The most popular destination wedding spots are often the priciest. With high demand comes high prices. Consider taking the road less traveled and going somewhere that’s a little off the beaten path. A great place to start is by asking friends about vacations they’ve taken and which location was the most beautiful and affordable. It might surprise you how many places there are with a low cost of events and a breathtaking backdrop.
Choose a Place With a Natural Backdrop
Decorations are expensive for a local wedding—now add the cost of transporting them to a remote destination, and, suddenly, your decoration budget gets stretched pretty thin. Instead of shelling out money on décor and ambiance, pick a destination with a natural aesthetic that serves as the perfect backdrop to your big day.
Keep Your Bridal Party Small
Agreeing to be in a bridal party is a big commitment, even for a local wedding, but for a destination wedding, it is a huge time commitment and financial strain. Carefully consider who you ask to be in your bridal party.
Consider keeping the party small and restricted to a few friends that feel comfortable with the time and monetary commitment.
Consider an All-Inclusive Option
All-inclusive vacation destinations often help you save money on your trip overall. You can also investigate all-inclusive wedding packages. Hotels and resorts that offer all-inclusive options often include alcohol and food in those packages, along with rooms. This helps guests know exactly what to budget and keeps your costs down.
Weekend weddings are always pricier than weekday ones. While the inconvenience that weekday weddings pose to guests can hold many couples back from making the budget-friendly choice, a destination wedding likely already requires guests to take time off work and travel. Since your guest list is likely much smaller than it would be if you had a local wedding and your guests are already setting aside time to attend the event, choosing a weekday is no longer such a huge ask.
Throw Out the Rule Book
Destination weddings are already non-traditional. Don’t tie yourself to traditions or feel like anything is a “must” at your wedding. Throw out that outdated rule book and write your own. If you want a tiny wedding, go for it. If you want to hike up a mountain for your vows, do it. It’s your day—plan a wedding that you and your spouse look forward to and treasure forever.
Communicate That You’re Keeping Things Small
One of the most prominent pain points of a destination wedding is breaking the news to your friends and family that didn’t make the guest list or won’t be able to attend due to the location. Start by coming up with a plan to tell your friends and family about your decision for a destination wedding so that they have ample time to plan. Sending out engagement announcements to other non-invited parties that would otherwise expect an invite is a great way to announce your wedding without inviting them.
Sometimes couples that have a destination wedding choose to hold a reception locally after they return, but that is up to the couple’s discretion.
There are countless ways to plan a destination wedding on a budget. It may be surprising to learn, but many people choose a destination wedding to avoid the high price tag of the local wedding industry—especially if they live in a city. No matter where you wind up celebrating your wedding, enjoy it. Budgeting for a wedding is stressful, but with a destination as gorgeous as the one you choose, it may just go by in a breeze.