Destination Weddings on a Budget

Have a carefree destination wedding without breaking the bank

By Michelle Bolyn

Bride and groom in the vineyards
Photo by Christine OlsenBookmark and Share

Just because you opted for a destination wedding, doesn't mean you have to go overboard. You can go to a beautiful, romantic location for your wedding while staying on a budget and still have a classy, memorable wedding. The key is to be smart about spending, and to use savvy tactics to stay on track. Before you make any plans, determine your budget with your fianc and come up with a financial plan. Staying true to your plan will help you enjoy a carefree wedding without worrying about your checkbook.

Bargain hunting

Before you make any plans for your wedding, do your pocketbook a favor and look for deals. Many resorts at popular destination wedding sites will offer you all inclusive packages, which can vary in price depending on time of year, wedding size and more. Check out the websites for resorts at you destination or call them directly to find out what they have to offer. The difference can add up quickly, though keep in mind that package deals or offers may have restrictions that you have to be aware of before you make any wedding plans.

Double date

One way to save money on your wedding is to combine your wedding and honeymoon. Couples can spend thousands of dollars on a honeymoon, but if you can cut out travel, then a big expense can be deducted. If you're already heading to Hawaii to get married, stay there for your honeymoon instead of traveling elsewhere. Add experiences to your wedding registry such as scuba diving and snorkeling, so most or all of your adventures are paid for by your wedding guests.

Guest list

Destination weddings can actually save couples money because the guest list is usually on the small side, allowing many venues to work within a couple's budget. One of the biggest ways to save money for any couple is top shrink the guest list. If you're having a destination wedding, stick with inviting your closest friends and family members. Reducing the guest list helps you save money on stationery, food, alcohol, linens, centerpieces and more. You can always have a big party a month or so after you get back from your honeymoon to celebrate with anyone who wasn't invited or couldn't attend.


If all of your guests are staying at one hotel for a few days, negotiate with the manager for reduced prices. Tell him how many guests will be staying at the hotel, and ask if they're willing to lower the rates for you. If you're having your wedding ceremony and reception at the hotel, the manager will be even more likely to work within your budget and give you a better deal.

Wedding planner

Hire a wedding planner if you don't know the area. Part of his or her job will be to find you wedding vendors within your budget. A wedding planner is worth the cost because she or he likely will save you money in the long run. Planning a wedding is stressful, but planning a destination wedding in which you can't meet the wedding vendors can turn into a nightmare. If you hire a wedding planner, they will absorb a lot of that stress.

Keep an open mind

Don't go into the planning process with a specific date and location. Shop around and ask vendors if they're willing to cut their prices for a wedding on Monday or Tuesday, when prices typically are lower compared with weekend weddings. Also consider booking your travel, lodging and wedding services for periods that are considered off season -- especially if your destination is popular with tourists. If a vendor is beyond your budget, ask if they can work within your budget. This might require you to keep an open mind when it comes to making your plans, and may require you to compromise on certain details.

About the Author

Michelle Bolyn regularly writes on weddings and relationships.

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Planning Reminder:

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Do the budget boogaloo

Figure out if one set of parents would like to cover, say, the rehearsal dinner, and another will foot the bill for the band, booze and food. You and your betrothed will need to cover the rest. Or, if you're covering the whole shebang, get ready for some finance finessing.

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