A destination wedding? How romantic! Don’t let those dollar signs deter you — with some planning, you can have the destination wedding of your dreams and stay within your budget. Let’s look at some tips to help you get this done.
Sometimes the best weddings are intimate ones. Have you ever been to a wedding where the receiving line at the reception was so long that you considered giving up and going home while standing there in heels and a special occasion dress? At your wedding, you and your new spouse will want to enjoy visiting with everyone who is there — something that you can only do by keeping it small (which will automatically make it easier on your budget).
“Destination” doesn’t have to mean halfway around the world. Especially if your guests will be traveling from the same home area as you and your fiancée, consider a destination that you can all get to by car or with a short plane ride instead of a long one. Sure, Hawaii is beautiful, but so are many other locations that might be more memorable and affordable.
Have you ever seen how hotel rooms (and everything else travel-related) drop dramatically in price after the holiday season? Figure out the most popular times for some of the locations that you are considering and see if the location and the weather would be just as appealing at a less popular time. Prices may drop by 50% or more off-season for the same experience. A few minor adjustments like bringing a women’s cardigan sweater to keep you cozy when the sun goes down instead of going sleeveless in the summer heat could make an otherwise unaffordable destination affordable. Your guests are likely to be more relaxed traveling when it is less busy, too.
What about having the wedding and the reception both at your hotel (or a location that is a quick car ride away). The simplicity of having everything in one location will make planning and execution easier and less expensive. If there is no limo required to get you from the church to the reception or back to the hotel, you have just eliminated one costly item from your potential list of expenditures.
This can also make the vacation feel of the wedding extra fun. If the hotel has a pool or a beach nearby, make sure that everyone knows to pack their swimsuits. The morning after the wedding, your guests can enjoy a dip in the pool, and then everyone can meet up for brunch later for a lovely and relaxing day.
Fresh flowers are beautiful. They are also expensive (especially if you have multiple attendants or have floral centerpieces at the reception). Consider having only the bride carry flowers or perhaps even opting for something more meaningful like an inspirational or religious book or heirloom handkerchiefs. Hurricane lamps can make a beautiful option instead of flowers for bridesmaids or table decorations.
Few prices for professional services are set in stone. After your narrow down the destination for your wedding to a few favorites, start negotiating for rates. At a minimum, if you’ll be booking more than one hotel room at a hotel, they should give you a discount for doing so. You can also explain to them how many people in your party will be staying at the hotel for how long, eating in the hotel restaurant, taking advantage of the hotel banquet room for the reception, and perhaps hiring the hotel caterers as well. A savvy hotel manager or wedding coordinator at your venue will see both the dollar value of your wedding (and the potential for positive social media content) and want to work with you and your fiancée.
This one may surprise you, but you have the option of setting whatever expectations you choose with your attendants and guests regarding gifts. Let them know that their presence will be a gift, and you appreciate that traveling to a wedding is a different type of invitation than driving to one a few miles from home. Unless they have deep pockets, they are likely to appreciate this. In addition to the outfit for the wedding, they may already be buying vacation clothing and other new items to pack for the trip.
You can always accept wedding gifts from family and close friends after the destination wedding if they’re set on giving you this experience. Enjoying gifts later can make opening the gifts with the giver a warm experience. This will also make it easier on everyone than transporting gifts to and from a destination wedding (especially for fragile gifts or family heirloom gifts).
Enjoy your beautiful and affordable destination wedding!