Should I Plan A Destination Wedding? The Pros and Cons
Destination Wedding Information
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.
Link for the best all-inclusive resort for destination weddings
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)