Mission Possible: Budgeting for a Destination Wedding
Apryl Chapman Thomas

In the past, destination weddings were a bride and groom only affair, but “today, however, destination weddings can be as elaborate as the couple (and their budget) allows,” says Paris Permenter, co-author with her husband, John Bigley, of “The Destination Wedding Workbook.”

She adds that it’s a common misconception that destination weddings are more expensive than traditional weddings.

“Today, with families scattered many miles apart, most guests are required to travel to a wedding anyway, so almost all weddings turn into destination weddings to an extent. The difference is with a true destination wedding is that couples select a location where everyone can feel they are on vacation.”

But just how much can a simple or an elaborate wedding cost? According to theweddingreport.com, the average spent on weddings is around $27,490, and that’s just covering the basics. Destination weddings tend to fall under a completely different category when it comes to money. However, with some budgeting (which is not a bad word); you can keep the expenses under control.

“When a couple is planning their budget for a destination wedding, there are several really important points to keep in mind,” says Linda Kevich, creator and editor of SuperWeddings.com. “First, just like with a traditional wedding, the more people they invite, the more it’s going to cost. This is important if they are just covering the cost of the wedding reception itself, but it’s an even bigger consideration if they are also picking up the tab for items like guests accommodations or airfare.”

She adds couples should keep in mind if they plan their wedding to take place in high season at their destination it's going to cost them more than it would if it was held before or after high season.

Last, but very important, says Kevich, when working out their budget, couples should give very careful thought and consideration to how much of their destination wedding they are going to pay for and how much they are going to expect guests to pay for.

“Keep in mind that the more a guest has to pay out of their pocket to attend a destination wedding, the higher the likelihood that the couple will receive declines to the wedding invitation.

She points out that while some couples cover the costs for all of their guests, more and more brides and grooms are expecting guests to cover at least some of their expenses.

“It's important to remember that hosting any wedding is as much about the enjoyment, pleasure and comfort of the guests as it for the couple themselves. Therefore, it’s so important for a couple to remain considerate, gracious and sensitive to their guests at every point in planning a destination wedding.”

“A social event like a wedding is only a success if the guests in attendance are happy. If you've planned it in such a way that places a burden on your guests, makes them uncomfortable, unhappy, or resentful towards you, then you've done something very wrong, and your event will not be fondly remembered.”

From an etiquette perspective, couples hosting a destination wedding should strive in any way possible to ease the financial burden that attending their wedding will place on either guests or bridal party attendants. Couples should look for ways to minimize expenses for their guests and attendants, or to cover a portion of their expenses whenever feasible.

Some couples opt to cover either the travel costs, or accommodations for all of their guests, says Kevich, but of course, not every couple is willing or able to do this. If the couple isn't covering the travel expenses of their guests, they should at least put in the effort to arrange group rates on airfare and accommodations, as more airlines are offering special discounted rates for groups. Hotels and resorts will typically also offer discounted room rates when a group of people is staying in the same hotel.

“Obviously, the more affordable a couple can make it for their guests, the better the attendance will be and the more enjoyable the experience will be for guests,” she points out.

When it comes to the bridal party attendants, the etiquette is a little more specific.

“Couples are expected to cover the accommodation expenses for their bridal party attendants, so they need to add this into their budget. If a couple feels that they do not have the budget for this, they should limit the number of attendants they include in their bridal party to reduce accommodation expenses.”

Couples sometimes also cover all meals for guests during the entire duration of their stay at the destination.

“Again, there are no specific rules on this, it’s all part of a broader concept that couples should be doing whatever they can to ease the expenses that guests and attendants will be faced with.”

By creating a budget and knowing their expenses in advance can help couples plan the destination wedding of their dreams.