Destination weddings…the stuff of intimate celebration dreams for some and the stuff of 'why would you / way too hard basket!' for others. On one hand, they're a guaranteed way to seriously cull numbers (and perhaps cleverly avoid having those extended inlaws your not crazy about anyway), but on the other hand there's the travel, accommodation, currency conversion, mass annual leave and all the logistics to consider. So at the end of the day (besides being an incredible experience), do you work out for richer or poorer, financially speaking, for choosing to wed elsewhere? Brainstorming all the budgetary pros, cons and practical concerns we could imagine, below is our shortlist of key considerations on the (far less romantic, but most necessary) issue of budget…
Unless everyone you know has access to a private jet, destination weddings are guaranteed to be smaller in size than if you stay close home. And considering the average cost per head at a wedding (we're just talking food & beverage here) averages between $100-200, there's a significant saving to be made on having fewer people.
There's no away around this one (unless, see earlier point on Private Jets), however if you choose to honeymoon in the same vicinity, or very nearby the wedding destination itself, this cost can be easily justified as flights you would have booked and spent money on regardless (of where the wedding is held).
Accommodation - The Couple
You'll need accommodation for the duration of the wedding/week, which you may like to combine with the accommodation of family, friends or the bridal party (see point below). Combining is great fun and means more quality time with people you may not get to see very often, however make sure you have some sort of space (a large room of ones own) that you two can retreat to if need be…as the week before a wedding can be a little intense!
Accommodation - The Bridal Party
While it's ok to ask your dearest friends and family members to cover the cost of their own flights, we encourage (as a matter of etiquette) covering the cost of the accommodation side of things, for as long as you 'require' everyone to be there. We're not suggesting you foot the bill for several weeks in an epic villa for 10 friends…but if you 'need' your bridal party there a week early, for rehearsal dinners or any DIY decor jobs…and you're sticking around for several days following the celebration, it's best to take care of the lodgings for that period. We love the idea of renting a giant house, for everyone to stay in together, which is infinitely cheaper than booking multiple hotel rooms (plus you have cooking facilities, so you save on meals out) but mostly, it's infinitely more fun.
Entertainment & Activities
Admittedly, there can be an expectation at destination weddings of organised events and activities, such as pre-dinners, post brunches, meet and greet drinks etc… As its increasingly normal these days, for weddings anywhere and everywhere to have some sort of night before and / or next day day gathering, this is a discretionary cost, as big or as small as you make it. Some of the best 'day after' gatherings we've attended have involved a simple, plentiful spread of pastries, fresh fruit and coffee at the house hired for the wedding party anyway. And similarly some memorable 'night before' dinners, have been pay-our-own-way restaurant affairs, viewing the experience as a dinner we would happily participate in with favourite friends and family back home anyway.
Besides the point on accommodation, the expense split with bridal parties remains pretty similar to a regular wedding, with each couple having their own point of view on how this should work (see our separate articles on etiquette recommendations for brides & bridesmaids here).
The Wedding Itself
Depending on the destination, the actual wedding may work out to be a lot more affordable than if you were to book something similar in your own country. In France or Italy for example, wine and champagne are ridiculously affordable compared to elsewhere in the world, while in parts of Asia there's the promise of enormous villas fit for a royal family, for a fraction of the price. Flowers, Catering, Venue Hire and Decor all need to be weighed up individually as more or less, depending on your destination.
Again, depending on where you are headed, this one can really work for or against you. If against, be sure to factor it into everything…the quotes from each of your local vendors plus all of the costs you'll accumulate on the ground (such as dinners out, car hire etc) and be sure to calculate correctly in advance so as to not get a nasty shock later on the credit card statement, bursting your honeymoon bubble somewhat!
More of an expense for guests…for destination weddings we suggest against gift giving. Friends and family are already forking out for flights and accommodation to join you in your celebration (happily & excitedly), however asking for a gift as well can seem a little too much. Plus…consider the enormous cost of shipping them back home or the excess baggage fees you'll be hit with!
Sticking close to the location of the wedding means you're already there! You save on travel time and cost, as well as possibly length, opting to not stay away for weeks on end, if you've already had what feels like a celebratory adventure abroad, during the week of, or lead up to, the wedding.
Every destination is different, depending on the distance from home, where the majority of your guests are travelling from and currency to currency. Use this article as a starting point and a reference to check exactly what each of these points mean for you and your dream destination in relation to budget. Don't forget to check out The LANE Brands for our curated list of favourite venues, florists and photographers found around the globe!