Whether you want to keep your destination wedding under budget or throw a decadent budget-free bash complete with fireworks and a tiara flown in from the Tower of London, even a wedding where the sky is the limit has a limit, and you’ll have to make decisions about how you want to spend your hard-earned money.
One of the most frequently asked destination wedding questions that we hear is “how much does a destination wedding cost?” and unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question, and the ones that are floating around there on well-meaning blogs, forums, and web pages, are all over the board.
With over a decade of Destination Wedding planning experience for couples all across America, and as a past destination wedding bride myself, I just want to give you an honest and fair expectation of what to look for – and expect – as you start considering your destination wedding budget.
While country, time of year, and resort, can increase your destination wedding cost considerably, you’ll also need to have a basic-as-a-pumpkin-spice-latte understanding of how resort wedding packages work. Just like resorts themselves, not all wedding packages are created equal and some of them have fine print that is easy to miss, but could end up forcing you to pay more than what you initially expected.
*The info below is based on all-inclusive resort weddings, and varies based on resort brand. This is to provide you a general idea only, and is subject to change as resorts revamp their packages each year.
Wedding Packages and How They are Structured:
1. Complimentary Package – Ceremony Only
Most resort offer a complimentary no-frills wedding package that you can take advantage of. These free wedding packages are quite limited, but couples who are having a very small destination wedding may find that they can make this work.
Complimentary Wedding Packages usually includes:
For these reasons, the most affordable destination wedding packages that couples select are usually a mid-range to luxury package that includes a few more people and a wedding reception.
2. Mid-Range Packages
These tend to range from $3000-$4000 and are usually the best bang for your buck when it comes to intimate destination weddings where couples expect to entertain 20-30 guests.
Mid-Range Wedding Packages Usually Include:
(in addition to the services provided in the comp package)
3. Top-tier Packages
The next, and honestly, my personal favorite, are the most inclusive packages that can be the best value if you don’t want to indulge with additional add-ons on the other packages, which can end up costing about the same or more later.
These packages tend to start around $4000 - $8000, and traditionally include 20-30 guests. It is relevant to also mention that there are a couple resort brands where you can earn many of these wedding components for free (not including décor items), based on how many rooms you book under your group room block. This is not standard at most resort brands, so won't go into detail, but worth notating to discuss with your travel advisor for more details.
Top-tier Inclusive Wedding Packages Usually Include:
(in addition to the services provided in the above packages)
You may have noticed that most packages only include 10-25 people – but what if you’re planning on having 40-80 guests? Which seems to be a standard size of most destination wedding groups traveling overseas.
Destination wedding popularity is on the rise and more guests than ever are accepting the invite – why not make a mini-vacay out of seeing their friend or family get married after all? With that in mind, this is where you need to be careful about who and how many people you invite, as there is an additional "per head" cost that you will pay over the guest count of 20-30 included in the package.
I’ve worked with clients who invited 100-200 people to “be nice” but only anticipated and budgeted for about 30-50 guests that they thought would actually attend. When 70-90 guests signed up saying how happy and excited they were to attend the perfect wedding in paradise, my clients ended up paying an additional $10-13,000 that they were not anticipating.
While they were all happy to be surrounded by so many who wanted to join them, my cautionary tale above is just to highlight how important it is that you are aware of the pricing and ways that you could end up paying unforeseen costs - in case you do have a strict wedding budget and want to avoid that destination wedding pitfall.
Additional Costs You Might Expect to Pay:
Vacation Package Not Included
Lastly, don’t forget that you will still need to pay for your own air, accommodation and transportation, as well as, trip insurance. The travel cost is going to be determined by country, resort, time of travel, season, trip length, room category selected and so on. Many couples tend to spend an additional $4000-$6000 for a week stay in an Ocean Front room category just to give you a general idea. However, most group room blocks allow you to earn complimentary nights you can apply toward your room cost.
I hope you found some valuable insight to help you understand how much a destination wedding costs. If you feel overwhelmed or would like assistance to narrow down the perfect destination or resort, we are here for you!
We spend most of our vacation time touring resorts, meeting with the wedding coordinators and training for destination weddings, so we can make it very simple for you. We save you time by filtering out all the bad advice and countless options for you. Let us take the guesswork out and match-make you to the destination and resorts that fit your style, vision and budget the best.
Together we will find your most perfect wedding resort and we take care of the logistics after that. All you have to do is the fun wedding planning and creating an unforgettable event your friend and family will remember for a lifetime! Schedule your free consultation to see how we can assist and learn more about our services!