Stuck on whether to host a traditional or destination wedding?
Well, surprisingly enough, up to one in four American couples and soon-to-be newlyweds currently planning a wedding choose to host a destination wedding, despite the average traveling costs and wedding-related expenses now being at an all-time high.
Those looking to get hitched this year will spend on average $29,000, an increase from $1,000 in 2022, according to the online wedding planning site Zola. This isn’t even the biggest figure. Some couples are footing a bill of $35,000 and more for their special day in larger metropolitan cities.
While the wedding industry managed to remain resilient throughout the pandemic and recover faster than what many initially expected, inflation and soaring demand are driving up prices, as estimates predict there to be more than 2.24 million weddings in the United States this year.
Planning for that special day comes with a hefty price, and for couples that are looking to take a less traditional route, and perhaps save on their budget, and rather spend that money on their honeymoon - destination weddings are now looking to be a more affordable option. That’s if they plan accordingly and have a budget that allows it.
Engaged couples looking to get married outside of their hometown, city, state, or the country for that matter are planning destination weddings at a rapid pace, as the stronger U.S. dollar is helping them stretch their budgets slightly further.
Current predictions claim that the global destination wedding market will grow to more than $28.31 billion in 2023, a strong increase from the $21.31 billion reported last year.
However, while the figures may look promising on paper, in reality, those that can afford to have a destination wedding will have to tie down their finances and bite down on their spending if they want to say “I do” in an exotic destination.
Industry coverage indicates that while more than half of American couples are concerned about their wedding budgets being affected by the current economic climate, some overseas destinations are looking more promising in terms of costs and saving on wedding-related expenses.
A 2023 Global Wedding Report%20and%20Mexico%20(61%25).) by The Knot Worldwide revealed that some newlyweds in countries like India are spending roughly $25,000 on their wedding, including their 285 wedding guests.
Elsewhere, some couples are seen paying even less than $20,000 on their special day.
In France, soon-to-be-married couples spend on average $19,000 for 97 guests, elsewhere in Portugal, $17,000 for 112 guests, and in Canada, the average budget is closer to $19,000 for 89 wedding guests.
The country that spent the least on their weddings, per the report, was Uruguay, where couples budgeted roughly $15,000 for 115 guests.
While these estimates are looking somewhat promising for couples that want to get married outside of the U.S., these figures largely depend on several factors.
Surprisingly enough, Americans are inviting more people to their weddings, than before the pandemic, despite being concerned about the economy. Wedding guest lists grew from 105 guests in 2021, to 117 in 2022.
While prices have ballooned in recent years, most couples budgeted on average $256 per person in 2022, according to a recent Bankrate report.
Depending on whether a couple is looking for a small intimate get-together, or perhaps a more elaborate celebration, the number of guests will ultimately influence how much a person will need to cough up for a destination wedding.
Couples planning to get married abroad will need to take into consideration their destination, as this will also influence the price. More well-known, and perhaps high-demand destinations such as Lake Como, Italy will surely foot a higher bill compared to a beach wedding in the Maldives.
Additionally, destinations in Europe, Canada, and Mexico, could potentially cost just as much as having a wedding back home, due to the dollar exchange rate. However, countries in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America could help stretch your budget even further.
Another important consideration to keep in mind is the wedding itinerary. Couples looking to have a fun-filled weekend that feels more like a quick getaway could potentially have less to budget for.
However, more elaborate weddings that stretch over several days or even weeks can be a bit more outside of a person’s price range. Additionally, one will need to budget for things like flights and transportation, accommodation, meals, and leisure activities before or after the wedding.
More recently, couples that have taken up the challenge of planning a destination wedding abroad, have skipped the honeymoon and rather settled on their post-wedding celebrations in the country or city they got married, this could already significantly lower expenses.
Planning a wedding locally is already a challenge, having to find the right venue, choosing suppliers, and deciding on whether to bring a wedding planner on board or not. This is nothing strange when planning for a wedding overseas, as couples need to consider sourcing a professional wedding planner that can assist with all the necessary planning and details.
More so, finding a person that resides within the destination, and is a trusted professional could require additional administration, and perhaps cost more. However, paying for quality service is perhaps one of the best ways to minimize stress and admin.
Then, before a couple can say “I do” they will need to visit their location in person to ensure that it’s the right place for them and their guests. This would require them to pay for flights, and other travel expenses such as accommodation and meals while visiting the destination.
On top of this, it would mean that during their visit, they will need to get as much planning sorted as possible unless they have the financial resources on hand to take one or two trips abroad before the wedding. It might be a good idea to share these traveling costs between you and your partner.
Given the expenses and necessary arrangements, for some couples, it might seem more challenging, and perhaps costly to host a destination wedding, compared to having something in their hometown, or at a wedding location nearby.
As we’ve seen, multiple things go into planning the almost perfect destination wedding. From compiling a guest list to finding a planner and venue and event booking all your itinerary details.
But perhaps you’re willing to take on the challenge of planning a destination wedding. Now it’s time to begin laying down the road map, which is in this case your wedding budget, to help you make sense of everything.
Perhaps the most difficult part is choosing a destination for your big day. With a nearly countless number of options and possibilities, it’s hard to decide where and when a person wants to get married.
A good place to start is to think of the potential theme you’d like to have as the backdrop to your wedding. Maybe a beach wedding would be the perfect setting, but then you have to think about things such as the weather and the tourist traffic during your wedding date.
Perhaps a mountain getaway might be more suitable, but how much will it cost to travel to these secluded destinations, and what other hidden costs may need to be covered along the way?
An indoor wedding could also work, but do you want to have something in the city, or maybe a small rural area, where you and your guests have all the privacy that you desire?
Additionally, you will need to think of whether or not there is enough accommodation available in the area for your guests unless you’re getting married at a resort, are there any nearby caterers and suppliers, and what time of the year are you looking to get hitched?
Keep an open mind during the decision-making process, and ensure that you are covering some of the basics alongside it. Additionally, be sure that you understand whether or not you have the best option for you and your wedding party, as some destinations may provide suitable arrangements, while others are a bit harder to get by.
Once you get to the stage where you need to compile a guest list, try and keep it as concise as possible. While you may want to invite your entire family, and the majority of your friends, it’s perhaps not always financially possible, and you may need to reduce your headcount over the coming weeks and months.
Consider how many family members you are looking to invite, and some of your closest friends. It’s important to pen down the most important guests first, before extending the list. Remember, that it’s both you and your partner that will need to compile this list together, so keep an open mind throughout the process.
One thing that might play in your favor is that not everyone you invite will be able to attend your destination wedding. Once you have sent out an RSVP invitation, and begin to have some idea of who will be coming, you can then start going further down the list, and invite those guests that didn’t make the first round of invitations.
While choosing a destination is one of the most important decisions, the same can be said about the possible date you have in mind. Your wedding date will need to coincide with the destination, as this will determine whether or not you may have that perfect day after all.
While Thailand, the Philippines, Maldives or even Vietnam could be on your list, this area may experience high levels of tourists and unpredictable weather between the months of May and November. This could increase the costs, as there is a higher demand for flights and accommodation during the high season.
The same can be said about other destinations throughout the northern hemisphere. Countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom and Canada may experience higher volumes of tourists as the summer season is considered to be a peak travel time for many foreigners to these places.
Countries in the southern hemisphere, which have summer throughout November to March, might be more suitable, but this could mean that you and your wedding party will need to travel during the holiday season.
With so much to keep in mind, it’s best to have a flexible wedding date, at first, and do a bit of research to determine whether or not your chosen date provides you and your guests with affordable solutions including flights and accommodation.
The date is a highly specific item on your budget, as this will ultimately determine how much you will need to pay out of pocket, as travel costs tend to rise throughout peak tourist seasons, which is normal during the warmer months. or
Another key component for planning a destination wedding is deciding whether or not you will be making use of a wedding planner to assist throughout the time leading up to your wedding.
While wedding planners tend to be more on the pricier side, for couples that are looking to get hitched overseas, having someone on the grounds, dealing with all the necessary arrangements can help lighten the burden and workload.
If you are dead set on getting married abroad, it’s best to factor in the cost of a wedding planner and to make sure that this is part of your overall budget. You can easily do a bit of research online to determine what a wedding planner will set you back in your chosen destination.
Be sure to use reputable sources or companies, and consider doing a bit of comparison shopping, to estimate which person or company provides you with a full-round service that’s well within your budget.
Additionally, the venue that you decide on will also help determine how much you will need to spend per guest. Some venues may only charge a fee per guest but will leave all the catering and supplying of other additions to third-party companies. There are also cases where this might be the opposite, where venues will charge per person, but will include things such as food, drinks, and perhaps accommodation.
Looking to get married abroad is perhaps one of the best ways to save on a honeymoon, as this could mean you will be able to travel and experience the wedding destination country with your partner once all the celebrations have concluded.
Often couples tend to combine their honeymoon with the destination wedding, as this helps decrease their expenses.
Choosing to combine both these events ensures that you will be able to get the most out of your experience, but it ensures that instead of having to pay for additional flights and accommodation in a different country, you can take advantage of the fact that you are already at the perfect place to spend your honeymoon.
If you decide on taking this route, make sure that you have savings put aside to thoroughly enjoy what the destination country has to offer in terms of leisure activities and attractions.
The hardest part leading up to your wedding, and in this case, a destination wedding is saving for it.
Take time to consult with your partner whether it’s within your financial means to have a destination wedding, and if so, how far in advance will you need to start saving.
Instead of leaving everything for the last minute, try and plan for at least one to two years in advance.
This might seem more time-consuming, and often riskier, as you’re not sure how things will unfold over the coming years, but this gives you and your wedding guests more than enough time to put money away for the big day.
As part of the saving process, you will need to determine how much you will need for your wedding. The best is to consult with a potential wedding planner or those that have already undergone the process of planning a destination wedding.
Once you have a figure in mind, you can then start planning, and build a savings roadmap towards meeting your goal.
Another way to keep your personal and wedding-related expenses in check is to budget for travel expenses separately, as compared to including this within your wedding budget.
Things such as flights, post-wedding accommodation, transportation and meals away from the wedding venue can be budgeted for separately. This would mean that you will need to set up either a different savings account or fund to monitor your process and to make sure you meet your savings goals.
This is also a way for you to understand how much money you have available at your disposal, and what your limits are in terms of spending.
There might be some couples that will need to double down on their spending habits in the months leading up to their destination wedding, and this includes being more frugal with their money.
While it’s at all times possible to get away with less money while planning a destination wedding, it might be better to cut down on unnecessary spending and help support one another during this time.
Try and put your savings or wedding fund to work, by placing your money in a high-yield savings account that can build interest. If you or your partner have the skills and knowledge, try and invest some of your cash in equities or other investment vehicles that will help to grow your money faster.
There are multiple pros and cons when it comes to planning a destination wedding, and it ultimately boils down to how much a couple is willing to spend, and whether or not they have the financial security to support their dreams.
It’s hard to give a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to whether or not a destination wedding is worth it. It all comes down to whether a couple can agree on a set budget, save up, and have an affordable destination in mind that works within their financial position.
Throughout the planning process, and perhaps the months leading up to when you begin planning for your wedding, keep an open mind and talk to your partner about the possibility of having a destination wedding.
A destination wedding, whether it’s abroad, or outside of your home state can be a beautiful and magical time for you, your partner, and wedding guests.
However, it’s just as possible to get away with spending less, but still having the wedding of your dreams, it mostly depends on how disciplined you and your partner are when it comes to money and saving for your big day.