Let’s face it: saving up for a wedding is a daunting task. The average cost of a wedding over the last five years ranged from $20,000 to $35,000. And when you add in airfare, hotel reservations and all the amenities that come with a destination wedding, planning a reasonable budget seems impossible.
Well here’s the good news: destination weddings are often less expensive than traditional weddings. Many costs are covered by all-inclusive resorts, and group deals can give you even lower rates.
Still, you can’t escape all costs associated with a destination wedding. But there are some things you can do to make it more affordable. Here are some of our favorite tips on how to plan your dream wedding vacation without breaking the bank:
1. Visit during off-peak season.
This is one of the easiest ways to save money on your destination wedding. Most resorts and venues offer inexpensive rates when you book at a quieter time. For example, in the Caribbean you’ll find the lowest rates from June to November. Just keep in mind that this is hurricane season, so you’ll need to be flexible.
2. Downsize your guest list.
A lot of a wedding’s cost goes into the guest list, from catering costs to venue size. Like all weddings, fewer guests means less money to spend. But unlike with traditional weddings, it’s easier to pare down your guest list at a destination wedding since fewer people will be able to make travel plans. This means that you don’t have to worry about coworkers you never talk to and “friends of friends” and focus on the people you care about most.
3. Go paperless.
Paper may seem cost-effective. But when you add up the cost of save the dates, an invitation suite, nice stationery and postage, you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on your invitations. Using digital invitations or a wedding website is an easy way to save money while providing more information for your guests. Learn more about how to build your destination wedding wedding website here.
4. Use group discounts.
If you work with a travel agent or destination wedding specialist, most resorts will allow you to reserve a room block, giving you a discount based on how many rooms you reserve. These lower rates will help guests save money and make it easier for people to go. It will also save you money if you plan on covering lodging for parents and/or your wedding party. If you’re having a larger wedding, a large room block at a resort will often get you a priority date as well.
5. Use resort-approved vendors.
You might think that bringing your own vendors could save you money when planning a destination wedding, but in many cases the opposite is true. Resorts often have a list of approved vendors they provide you with after booking. Using a vendor not on this list can result in extra fees, so it’s best to avoid it if you can. By using local vendors, you won’t have to pay extra travel and lodging fees as well.
6. Combine your wedding and honeymoon into one trip.
This is one of the top money-saving perks of a destination wedding — you can start your honeymoon immediately once the wedding is over. Having a combination wedding-honeymoon makes the day even more special since you can associate both with a single place. Plus, you won’t have any additional travel costs.
7. Sign up for an airline credit card.
Rewards from credit cards can give you discounts on flights, free checked bags, ground transportation and more. Many cards have a sign-on bonus where you can receive extra miles by spending a certain amount in the first few months. Because of this, it’s smart to get a card shortly before making larger purchases, like furniture or travel. See some of the best travel rewards credit cards here.
8. Opt for a cash registry.
Since most guests at destination weddings pay for their own travel, many couples will opt out of registries entirely. However, if any guests insist on buying a gift, there are ways to get creative with your registry and fund your wedding in the process. Services like My Registry or HoneyFund allow you to compile all your registries in one place and include a cash registry option.
9. Hire a destination wedding specialist.
By far, the best way to lower costs and ensure your wedding runs smoothly is to hire a professional destination wedding specialist. Combining the skills of a travel agent and a wedding planner, destination wedding specialists know the ins and outs of wedding contracts and have plenty of connections in the industry to secure you the best package possible. To learn more, see all the services Destination Brides has to offer.
Creating your wedding budget is no easy feat, and sticking to it is even harder. But little changes can make a big impact when it comes to saving money. These ideas will help take the burden off saving up for a wedding so you can get to making more important plans.