Should I Plan A Destination Wedding? The Pros and Cons

My Story

Ever since I was a little girl I have dreamed about what my wedding would be like.  I always pictured a huge church filled with family and friends.  I dreamed about having a beautiful ornate gown with a train as long as the aisle would allow.  I wanted the best photographers available and fresh flowers everywhere. Finally at the age of 31, my current husband popped the question.  We were on vacation at a Sandals Resort located on the beautiful island of Saint Lucia when he pulled me onto the balcony and kneeled down. With tears streaming down my face, I said yes and started thinking about all of those childhood daydreams.  Little did I realize at the time, but this type of wedding was nowhere within the budget of a lower middle class family.  When I sat down to figure out how much it would really cost to have that wedding, the total figure, honeymoon included, came to almost $50,000.

I wanted a beautiful, memorable wedding, but I refused to put my family in debt for the rest of our life to have it.  I was a single mother up until this point, and I knew how to budget money.  I began researching destination weddings immediately, and as luck would have it, I was at a Sandals Resort where they offered such a service.

My husband and I got married at Sandals Montego Bay in beautiful Jamaica. Total cost of airfare and a 10 day stay on this all-inclusive resort came to $6000 for the two of us.  If you follow along you'll see we spent a little more than this for the wedding, but it didn't add up to the original $50,000 I had expected to have the wedding of my dreams.

The Pros of Destination Weddings

1.  Many of the resorts and hotels that offer destination weddings as a service to their guests, offer package deals.  In other words, if you are staying on the resort for a certain number of days, the basic wedding package is included in the price of the trip.  This usually includes a bouquet and boutonniere, music for the ceremony, a photographer, the officiant, a beautiful wedding location, and a small reception afterwards with cake and light refreshments.

2.  The resort generally takes care of most of the paperwork involved leaving the bride and groom free to concentrate on more important things (like each other).

3.  The guests you may want present for the ceremony can book a room at a discounted rate for as many or as few days as they would like.

4.  The expense involved in the actual ceremony is included in the cost of the honeymoon.  

5.  The bride and groom can elect to be married on the beach, in a chapel, or in one of many other beautiful locations.

6.  You receive the services of a wedding planner free of charge once on the resort.  They will discuss what is included in your basic package and give you information on what extras can be added on for an additional fee.

7.  After the ceremony is over, there are thousands of activities available for the bride and groom to take part in both on and off the resort.  Most are at an additional cost, but are well worth it to celebrate the occasion together.

 

The Cons of Destination Weddings

1.  There may be certain guests that can't afford to be there with you.  This was one of the issues that I was concerned about when making my decision.  I solved this easily by having a reception when I got home to celebrate with those who could not attend.  My husband and I found a beautiful location that allowed us to bring in our own caterer and purchase our own alcohol.  We had 100 people attend and the whole thing only cost $2000.  You can save a lot of money by purchasing your own food and drink.

2.  There are many extra options that the resort will offer you at an additional cost, and sometimes these are very tempting.  Be careful!  You can increase the cost of your wedding very easily by giving in and adding too much on to the basic package.  The only things we added on for our ceremony were an extra bouquet and boutonniere for our best man and matron of honor, and we purchased some of the photos taken by the professional photographer.  Additional flowers and decorations were tempting but many of these tropical locations are covered with lush vegetation, and the natural beauty was more than sufficient.

3.  Certain religious services may not be offered.  Though destination locations try very hard to accommodate all religious needs, it may be difficult to have certain traditions included in the ceremony.  Be very specific with your wedding planner if you have your heart set on specific aspects of your big day.  If they can incorporate what you want, I am sure that they will, but make sure that there is no question regarding their ability to perform these religious or cultural traditions ahead of time. 

Running total of my destination wedding

Airfare and 10 day stay at Sandals Montego Bay = $6000

Reception held back home = $2000

DJ for reception = $600

Wedding Dress for tropical wedding = $200

Platinum Wedding Bands = $400

Photos purchased at Resort = $800

Extra flowers for attendants = $50

Total = $10,500 (still a lot less than the original $50,000)

Photo from my wedding at Sandals in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Are you interested in having a destination wedding?

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Comments 13 comments

Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 7 years ago from Sydney

You are so right, Marlene.  Most people don't realise a destination wedding is often cheaper than a wedding at home, even though it is more glamorous and exciting.  

One important thing you don't mention - it can be difficult to get married legally in a foreign country.  I got married on Santorini (Greece) and our plans were already far advanced when we discovered we couldn't supply all the legal documents the Greek authorities were demanding. 

We ended up having a civil wedding in Australia and repeated the ceremony in Greece.  Apparently a lot of people do the same but I'm not sure it's a good idea.  Even though our Australian wedding was very simple with just a handful of guests, I felt married after it and the Greek "wedding" seemed superfluous.  Whatever, I had a great time and we have a fabulous album of wedding photos to show for it.

These days I often say - some brides go down to the beach or to the park to have their wedding photos taken.  I went all the way to Greece!


Marlene F. profile image

Marlene F. 7 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Thank you Marisa. I think because I got married through a Sandals resort, I had no problem with the paperwork. They told me ahead of time everything I needed so that I could make sure that I had it all. I am very sorry to hear about your situation though. The two places in the world I have always wanted to visit are Greece and Australia, and you were able to get married at both places. I bet that was beautiful!!!


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia

Very nice Marlene! :) I'll never get married again, but my teenagers will one day, and it's nice to know this could be an option when that day comes for them. I've never even thought of a destination wedding before, and you've outlined the pros and cons very nicely. Lovely wedding photo! :)


Marlene F. profile image

Marlene F. 7 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Thank you Pam. I waited until I was 31 to get married. It took me a long time to find the right person. I'd be happy to give you more information if and when your teens grow up and decide to take that leap.


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia

Thank you Marlene. Hopefully they will be smart and wait till they find the right person as you did. :)


squizzlejizz 7 years ago

tell please more for if possible for goat weddings?


With This Favor 7 years ago

A great breakdown for the bride and groom who are considering the destination wedding. I believe this might become a rising trend as it is much less stressful for the bride and groom, which is ultimately what the day should be.


sjames4444 profile image

sjames4444 6 years ago

Great information. I too had a destination wedding and your hub is so true. After getting married at sunset on the beach, I wouldn't change a thing about it.


VeroPlaya 6 years ago

Yes a destination wedding is perfect to mix the most special day, holidays, family and friends in an exotic location...i like to recommend Cancun or the Riviera Maya check www.playalovesyou.com.mx

Regards!


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago

Awesome. Destination weddings are the next best thing to eloping, ;-). Just being part of weddings drives me crazy, to actually be the bride in one I just wouldn't get through without shots (of alcohol), and beer. Destination equals far less stress, and I've heard it was overall cheaper.


samuiwedding 5 years ago

Yes destination wedding always cheaper than do one in hometown plus couples can enjoy honeymoon the same time. This hub is very useful.


Jamilah Fort 2 years ago

I just wanted to say I really appreciate you sharing this. I am recently engaged and have been considering having a destination wedding and I just wanted to weigh out the pros and cons of having this type of wedding. I think I have truly made my choice after reading your story! thank you for sharing


Kay Junior 2 years ago

I am a Destination Weddings and Honeymoon Specialist..Destination weddings are the best way to go especially, if you're on a strict budget. We at Swift Travel Deals actually offer the option to put down a small deposit for your flight/hotel/wedding packages with the option of booking up to a year in advance (interest free, no credit checks). We offer this service as an avenue for clients to travel at affordable rates. We offer discounted rates because we're able to negoiate our rates with vendors across the globe.

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