Choosing the right venue is important when planning a wedding. If you want to tie the knot somewhere memorable, consider having a destination wedding. Destination weddings are ceremonies held outside the couple’s hometown and typically necessitate travel for the wedding party and guests.
According to The Knot, 19% of couples chose a destination wedding in 2021, slightly less than in the pre-COVID year of 2019, and more are expected to follow suit in 2022 as travel restrictions ease.
When planning one, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider.
- Get married in a dream location.
- Plan a smaller guest list.
- Potentially save money on wedding costs.
- More planning may be required.
- Guests may not attend.
- There are no guarantees.
Destination Wedding Pros
There are several good reasons to consider a destination wedding over a traditional wedding in terms of benefits or advantages. The biggest advantages are usually related to cost, convenience, and the overall experience that a destination wedding can provide.
Get married in a dream location
The first and most obvious benefit of planning a destination wedding is the ability to marry in a location that is special or memorable to you and your future spouse. Some couples may exchange vows in the Caribbean, while others may tie the knot just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower. Regardless of where you go, you have the opportunity to make memories while also taking some stunning wedding photos.
Plan a smaller guest list
With fewer guests, destination weddings can also provide a more intimate atmosphere. It may not be feasible or realistic for 200 people to attend a wedding in Bali, for example, if most have jobs or families requiring their attention. As a result, you can tailor your guest list to include the people most important to you.
Potentially save money on wedding costs
Even when done on a smaller scale, getting married can be costly. In 2021, the average couple spent $28,000 to get married, or $34,000 including the engagement ring, and the same in 2019—in 2020, the average outlay dropped to $19,000 as the global coronavirus pandemic crisis curtailed many couples’ wedding plans.
On the other hand, the average destination wedding costs $32,700 ($38,700 if the engagement ring is included).
A traditional wedding may appear to be the better option at first glance, but with careful planning, you can spend less on a destination wedding.
For example, choosing an all-inclusive hotel or resort for the ceremony, reception, and honeymoon could make sense. Because there may be partner wedding vendors on-site, this reduces the number of venues and vendors you need to book. Planning a destination wedding in a country with a favorable exchange rate or a lower cost of living may also help your money go further.
Destination Wedding Cons
While destination weddings are appealing, they may not be appropriate for every couple. If you’re thinking about having a wedding somewhere exotic, here are a few things to keep in mind.
More planning may be required
Planning a wedding in a country you’ve never visited or have only visited once can add complications. For example, you may need to consider currency exchange rates, potential language barriers, and marriage license requirements. You’ll also need to consider travel restrictions to see if you can visit your preferred destination.
Guests may not attend
It’s perfectly acceptable not to invite certain people to a destination wedding if you know they won’t be able to come or would prefer not to. That doesn’t guarantee that the people you do invite will show up. Financial or logistical barriers may prevent them from attending, resulting in a smaller wedding party than you had planned. The day’s joy may be diminished if someone important to you cannot attend.
There are no guarantees
Planning a wedding entails taking a chance on the day going as planned. Nonetheless, a destination wedding may pose some unusual risks. For example, you could be two days into your wedding festivities when a hurricane or earthquake forces you to evacuate. Or your newlywed spouse could trip and be bitten by a scorpion while you’re exploring the local flora and fauna.
Purchasing wedding and travel insurance can help protect you financially during a disaster. Depending on the coverage, you may be able to recoup some of the costs you incurred when planning a destination wedding if it is cut short.
A basic wedding insurance policy can range between $155 and $550.
Travel insurance can be less expensive, with an average of $95 for one week of coverage on an international trip.
You should consider purchasing one of each type of policy in addition to any credit card travel insurance coverage.
How to Plan a Destination Wedding
If you believe a destination wedding is right for you, here are some planning tips to get you started.
Set your wedding budget
A budget is essential when planning any wedding, especially when planning a destination wedding. Consider the maximum amount you can afford and the specific costs you’ll need to budget.
Plan the guest list
Choosing guests for a destination wedding is important because you need to know how many people will attend. Consider who you want to invite and who is most likely to be able to attend.
Evaluate the destination
You may have a dream location in mind, but you should consider whether it is the best option. For instance, what will the weather be like on the day you intend to visit? Are there any restrictions on travel to or from that location? How simple will it be for visitors to get there? Can anyone older or very young handle the terrain? What is the current exchange rate?
Apply travel points and miles
If you’ve accumulated travel points or miles from one or more rewards credit cards, consider how to maximize their value. For example, booking airfare or hotels may be worth more than renting a car.
Get the timing right
Traveling to a destination wedding during the off- or shoulder season may be less expensive than traveling during peak season. You may also be able to avoid larger tourist crowds if you’re visiting a popular location.
Consider travel or wedding insurance
If you’re concerned about potentially losing money due to circumstances beyond your control, purchasing travel and wedding insurance may provide some relief.
Who Should You Invite to a Destination Wedding?
Convincing people to attend a wedding outside where you and most of your friends and family life becomes more difficult. If you intend to marry halfway around the world, remember that guests must take more time off work and spend more money to attend. That means you should only invite people who are extremely close to you.
Do Guests Pay for Destination Weddings?
Typically, guests are expected to pay for their transportation to the wedding as well as their lodging, assuming they will need to stay overnight. However, every wedding is unique, and there are no hard and fast rules.
Is a Destination Wedding Cheaper Than a Traditional One?
That is determined by some factors, including the location of the wedding and the number of guests invited. Yes, destination weddings can be less expensive if you get married in a less expensive location that is too far away for distant relatives and acquaintances to attend.
Destination weddings can be romantic and unforgettable, but they are not for everyone. If everything goes as planned, you could marry in a beautiful location with only the people you care about the most while saving money. However, realizing that dream usually necessitates more planning, accepting a higher risk that something will go wrong, and asking more of the people you want to invite to your special day.