How to Plan a Budget Destination Wedding

A bride and groom on the beach at their destination wedding.

It’s no surprise that destination weddings are an attractive option for engaged couples these days. Beautiful scenery and amazing, memorable experiences—who would pass that up? However, destination weddings also have one major drawback: they are expensive.

Flying to a foreign country to tie the knot with the love of your life may sound like a dream, but for some couples, the significant cost is just too much…right? Not necessarily. Believe it or not, it is possible to have a destination wedding on a shoestring budget! Here are a few tips to make it happen.

Establish Your Priorities

First things first: once you decide to plan a wedding, you need to determine which parts of the event you care about. This is true of any wedding, but it’s especially important for a destination wedding (and even more important when you’re on a budget). Besides marrying your sweetheart, what are you most looking forward to on your big day? Having a delicious, four-course meal? Dancing all night to a live band? Getting ready in a luxury suite? Talk with your partner and figure out what matters to both of you, and then build the budget around those priorities.

Keep the Guest List Small

A destination wedding ceremony set up in a forested area with a small amount of chairs.

When you’re in love and getting married, it’s common for folks to want to shout it from the rooftops…and that’s not limited to you and your partner. Your parents and grandparents may be feeling the love too—and everyone’s excitement usually leads to an overstuffed guest list of everyone you’ve ever met.

Even a destination wedding, which tends to be smaller due to travel requirements, can fall victim to guest list bloat. After all, your parents’ Bunko buddies are retired; they certainly wouldn’t mind a trip to the Bahamas! Just remember that a larger guest list will inevitably increase the cost of food and lodging for your wedding. If you want to save money, do you best to limit your list to your very nearest and dearest.

Get Married in the Off-Season

Let’s say that you have your heart set on a wedding in a far-off spot: Barbados, France, the peak of Everest. That’s totally your prerogative, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go for it! However, if you want to get married in your dream destination and stick to your budget, you might have to get creative with your wedding date.

Just as local wedding venues have peak seasons, destination wedding spots tend to get busy around the same time every year. And what happens when demand grows in a certain location? You guessed it—the price goes up! Getting married in the “off-season” will ensure that you get the wedding of your dreams without spending a premium on your venue or vendors.

Location, Location, Location

A bride and groom at their vineyard destination wedding.

When people hear the term “destination wedding,” they usually imagine a tropical island with sapphire blue waters, swaying palm trees, and a couple strolling along the beach at sunset. It’s a lovely picture, but it’s not the only way to have a destination wedding. In fact, Martha Stewart states that anything longer than a two-hour drive can be considered a destination wedding.

This is great news for couples on a budget. You can still have a destination wedding without spending an arm and a leg on a plane ticket! If you want to save money, look for a location that’s far enough away to be a nice getaway, but still close enough that it won’t cost too much.

Consider a Brunch Ceremony

Another way to save money on your destination wedding (or any other wedding, for that matter) is by getting married in the morning. AM weddings are less common, and therefore venues and vendors are more willing to offer their services at a lower rate. Also, you’ll be able to save money on your reception meal, as breakfast food costs less than dinner (even though it’s just as delicious).

A morning ceremony is particularly great for destination weddings because it leaves your entire day free to explore the new city. You can get married bright and early, enjoy a delicious brunch with your loved ones, and spend the rest of the day sightseeing!

Try a Wedding Package

There are a lot of costs that go into a destination wedding. Travel, lodging, the venue…it all adds up pretty fast. One way to avoid the total cost creeping skyward is to work with a company or venue that offers a destination wedding package.

Many resorts in destination wedding hot spots (Jamaica, Mexico, or Italy) provide couples with destination wedding deals, which bundle together services like officiants, caterers, and wedding coordinators in one lump sum. This is often a great way to save a little on each of your vendors and get a dream wedding for a discount!

Find Amazing Vendors