Some brides and grooms may dream of getting married in their hometown or in the place they’ve made their home together, but many couples prefer to jet set their way to “I do” instead. If you’re interested in a destination wedding—whether it’s getting married barefoot on an island or saying your vows at the top of a mountain—you may be wondering if it will fit within your budget. But even with adding in the cost of the flight, destination weddings don’t have to break the bank, and some of them don’t even require a passport. Let’s take a look at five of the most swoon-worthy (and Insta-worthy) destination wedding spots that are perfect for the couple who likes to save.
Santa Barbara, California
Home to several stars like Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres, you may think at first that Santa Barbara is an unaffordable destination wedding location—but think again. Although many of the exclusive beach-side wedding venues may have A-lister pricing, one of the best (and most beautiful) wedding venues in the city only costs about $500: the Santa Barbara courthouse. This unbelievably gorgeous Spanish-style building will have you thinking twice about scoffing at a courthouse wedding.
In addition to the courthouse, Santa Barbara also has plenty of state parks on the beach that are perfect for a small, intimate ceremony—or get married on the nearby Channel Islands, which is a national park that can be reserved by a special use permit.
Want to get married somewhere beautiful? Look no further than our own National Park system. From Yellowstone to Bryce Canyon and Joshua Tree, there are dozens of unbelievable locations to get married right here in the United States. In addition to the stunning backdrops that these parks provide, getting married in one is fairly inexpensive.
If you do choose to get married in a National Park, just be aware that there may be restrictions on decor, restrooms, and where you can have the wedding. Plan ahead and be aware of when the park has its busiest season for tourists.
You may not have automatically thought of Belize for your wedding, but that would be a mistake. This beautiful Central American country has plenty to offer in sun, sand, and tropical rainforests. For about the same price as it costs to fly to Mexico, Belize is an increasingly popular, affordable destination wedding spot. The country has several all-inclusive resorts that will take care of the entire wedding ceremony and reception—so all you need to do is pack your bags to prep for your dream wedding.
The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic typically tops the list for wedding destinations—and it’s easy to see why. The small country is filled with all-inclusive destinations that are affordable for couples looking to get hitched on the beach without busting their budget. With white sands and the crystal clear ocean in the background, it’s a romantic spot for couples who want a more tropical vibe for their celebration.
The city of Savannah in the state of Georgia is the epitome of a beautiful backdrop: cobblestone streets, gorgeous old mansions, and oak trees with swooping Spanish moss. If you’re looking for a destination that is screaming romance, then this is it.
Best of all, for as beautiful as Savannah is, it’s still an affordable place for couples to get married. From the unbelievable Georgia coastal botanical gardens to the Tybee Island pier and a few historic mansions in town, there are plenty of inexpensive venues to choose from. Georgia is also a perfect wedding destination for out-of-towners as there is no waiting period in Georgia (meaning you will receive your license at the time you apply).
Remember, a Destination Wedding Requires Sacrifices
Unless you’ve got a Hollywood-level wedding budget, setting the date in a far away destination is most likely going to require a few sacrifices. One of the biggest sacrifices for a destination wedding is inviting fewer guests and having a smaller, more intimate ceremony. While this is no problem for many couples, some may struggle with the thought of having to leave people out. Of course, you may be able to invite as many people as you want, but be aware that a good portion of them may decline the invite because of the cost and other travel-related issues. A solution for this issue may be to have your destination wedding ceremony, and then have a large reception when you get home for those who were unable to make it. Of course, if you go this route, consider the cost of a separate celebration at home in addition to your actual wedding ceremony and reception.
Destination weddings also may require more logistical work when it comes to arranging the ceremony and reception. It’s much easier to plan your wedding flowers when you can pop over to the local florist, but getting married out of town means that a lot of planning will have to be done over the phone. It can also be challenging when it comes to getting your marriage license. Many top wedding destination spots may make it easy for you, but be sure to do your research well ahead of your trip to be prepared.