Maybe your parents wants you to tie the knot in the church you grew up attending, but have you ever wondered if a destination wedding is the right choice for you? A beach wedding in Mexico, a mountainous affair in Colorado—let’s face it, if you’ve ever dreamed of having a destination wedding, you’re definitely not alone.
Obviously, tons of elements will go into determining whether or not you should have a destination wedding, but the most important one is probably cost. According to our Real Weddings Study in 2017, 23 percent of couples got married 200 miles or farther from where they lived at the time (up from 20 percent in 2008). Even though lots of couples do decide on a destination wedding, nearly one in five of them host another party when they return home in order to celebrate with friends and family who were unable to travel to their destination wedding. The same study also found that there are more than 449,000 destination weddings each year; of those, 78 percent take place in the continental US (in destinations like California, Florida and Colorado) and 22 percent at international destinations, like the Caribbean and Mexico.
If the thought of planning a wedding abroad is stressing you out, don’t let that be a factor: There are tons of ways you can get help planning a wedding abroad, like Destination Weddings, a company that helps couples plan, budget and more from afar. Of course, you can always hire a wedding planner to assist as well.
So, How Much Is a Destination Wedding?
For most couples, price is the single most important factor in deciding whether or not to plan a destination wedding. Not only do you have the traditional wedding expenses like ceremony, reception, wedding dress and officiant, but if you’re planning a destination wedding, you may also have guests’ expenses to think about. Are you planning to pay for some or all of the destination wedding costs for guests? How do you decide? Will the added cost of shouldering guest expenses offset the savings that come with having a smaller wedding?
When planning your destination wedding, one of your first big decisions will be location. Should you go international and have a tropical affair in Costa Rica or Jamaica? Or should you plan a domestic destination wedding, like a warm, rustic event in Aspen? According to our research, “total spend is greater for domestic weddings, but international weddings cost more per guest.” The average wedding cost for an international destination wedding is $27,227, while domestic costs are slightly higher at $28,372 (probably because the guest list for domestic destination weddings is typically larger). Either way, with the average cost of any kind of wedding as high as $33,391 in recent years, destination weddings remain a cost-effective option for you to consider.
Another factor you’ll need to consider as you decide on your wedding’s location is travel expenses. According to another 2016 study conducted by The Knot, you’ll need to factor into your budget an additional $1,427 for international travel expenses, and $532 for domestic, and that’s just for you and your partner. In 2016, 40 percent of couples planning destination weddings contributed money toward their guests’ travel and accommodations expenses. The survey revealed that couples are much more likely to contribute when their guest list is fewer than 10 people. But with total per guest expenses clocking in at $1,032 for domestic weddings and $2,623 for international weddings, it’s clear assisting guests with their travel expenses could eat up a huge part of your budget. To reduce costs, 27 percent of couples getting married use reward points to pay for a portion of their destination wedding, so start racking up those points as you pay for your wedding by signing up for a credit card with a great rewards program, then be sure to pay it off each month.
Despite the destination wedding cost, our research found 80 percent of international and 83 percent of domestic destination wedding brides said it was important the destination and accommodations are affordable for their guests. You’ll want to share your day with your loved ones, so plan your domestic or international destination wedding far in advance (and send out save-the-dates as soon as possible) in order to provide guests with the opportunity to save money for travel and other expenses. And of course, make sure to get that hotel block info on your wedding website ASAP.
If you do decide to exchange vows outside of your hometown—or even halfway across the world—you may not have every single friend or family member with you. That said, a destination wedding might be the perfect choice for you, and you’re guaranteed to have some amazing memories (and photos!) no matter what.