Photo Credit: Marla Dee Photography, Sarasota, Florida
As a former destination bride, I know just how frustrating it can be trying to figure out what is actually worth the price versus what I can cut from the overall budget because let’s face it, we want our wedding to be epic, right? I wanted people to be talking about this wedding for weeks (ok, ok you got me — years)! With that said, here are some tips I used when planning my very own destination wedding, hopefully they are helpful for you as well.
How to Save Money on a Destination Wedding
Plan Ahead and Book Early
Doesn’t the saying go something like “the early bird catches the worm?” Whelp, there are advantages to taking this proverb to heart. Usually, if you are looking for the best deals, you have to lock in the prices early.
Choose an Off Day
Who says your wedding has to be on a Saturday, Sunday or even Friday, for that matter. It is a destination wedding so do what you want — isn’t that why we chose to have one? For even better deals, try getting married on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Plus, opt for a brunch wedding instead of a sunset time. It is always the weekend in paradise!
I get it, you want to be different and really not plan a cookie cutter wedding, however, more and more these days, all-inclusives like the Hyatt Ziva/ Zilara have been listening. They gotten rid of the standard packages, and instead got custom. You can absolutely do have a unique wedding. Another one of our favorites is Karisma Resorts, by the way. Add what you want, nix what you do not! In addition, your guests will be extra happy as they will not be hit with any extra fees and can join in on all the fun without having to break the bank.
Wedding Party Gifts
This is where I typically get another mixed review — some really go all out, but me? I say save. Trinkets, as my hubby calls them, get thrown away, and how many times do we get souvenirs that we get rid of at the first chance? Instead, plan a fun excursion or spa experience for your party. They will appreciate the experience. Don’t get caught buying a lot of little stuff, it ends up adding up to more than what you would have paid for gifting them the experience, and it requires less time and hassle. Do you hear me DIY brides? Do not do it!
Now this is one place I’d definitely cut back. How many times do we get something in the mail, write it down or put on our calendar and then just throw it away? Yep, your guests will too! Now, Grandma might keep it, and even frame it, but the majority of people trash it. This means it’s definitely better to save the money.
Many couples are opting for e-vites these days anyway and saving some trees. Use your wedding website to hold all of the important information and then send it out to everyone.
Nix the Extras
Do you really need that special linen shipped from Italy? What about those sheer coverings over the ceremony space? Many specialty items and décor are not really needed. Remember you are bringing people to a beautiful destination so highlight the natural beauty and opt for simple. Key: Simple, not plain — still dress it up with local items that fit in the natural element.
Seriously, Go Local!
I might sound like I’m repeating myself, but it’s true: throw in the local flavor. From the menu to the cocktails, even the tropical flowers, infuse the destination’s culture and history into your moment. That will also make it unique and highlight your personality as well.
What Is Worth the Extra Money in a Destination Wedding?
Now with those tips, do not forget that does not mean be CHEAP! There are a few things I would definitely not cut out, and are very much worth the splurge. Let’s talk about when it’s ok to splurge.
Here it can really go either way. There are some couples that get cheap tickets and they feel good about it, but others will not sacrifice this luxury so they make sure they are in the upgraded seats.
Tip: Make sure to mention to the airlines you are off to get hitched, and they often times upgrade engaged couples. If you do plan to save in this area, book early and start trying to build up frequent flyer miles.
Bonus: If there is an airport VIP program, like in Punta Cana and Jamaica, pay for it! Mobay Pass was a lifesaver and got us through the airport line/customs and security, then to the lounge sipping on rum punch, in less than 15 minutes.
It goes without saying this is where you will be spending most of your time, and it will act as the venue, hotel, activity zone and honeymoon. Choose wisely. You want a resort with a high rating and excellent reviews. With that said, room upgrades should be included — do not spend the extra money, use that as a benefit of booking with the resort and try to score this for free.
Yes, this is totally worth it— do not try to skimp on this. I actually brought my photographer from home, and I recommend you do, as well. This seems obvious but I have heard worse. Remember these pictures serve as the best memory of your life. You want great photos and you get what you pay for.
Tip: Usually you can get away with flying in own photographer, as long as they stay at the resort for a minimum of 3 nights, like regular guests. Then, you will not have to pay an extra vendor fee.
That is why we are there, right? Besides getting married, of course! Truly experience your destination. Sometimes you can bargain on your excursions, but if not, spend the money and do something you have never done before. This is priceless!
Tip: Plan a special group excursion for your guests to enjoy — they will love spending the time with you and bae.