Having a destination wedding is like a dream come true. If you’re planning the most special and memorable day of your lives, the closer you can get to the fantasy of what that is, the better. Of course, a destination wedding can come with its own set of challenges, not to mention the cost of travel, for you and for your guests. With so many elements to organise, so many suppliers to coordinate, doing that from a remote location can be that much tougher. But of course, the payoff is so worth it – a beach sunset or an Italian vineyard or Spanish hacienda will beat a town hall or austere church in grey, gloomy UK any day.
So if a destination wedding is what your hearts are set on, there are plenty of clever ways to not only get the most for your money, but make some big cost-cutting choices that make a destination wedding much cheaper and more beautiful than a local one. Plus, that way you can put those extra pennies into big-ticket items, like your honeymoon or new house.
Most, if not all, holiday destinations have peak seasons. Not surprisingly, the trick is to avoid them. Use flight checkers like Skyscanner and look for dates just before or after a destination’s main holiday time. The weather will still be nice, maybe even milder, which is useful for guests – especially those with kids – to avoid extreme heat or cold, but you’ll be avoiding the main rush of tourists. If it’s possible, try to avoid booking your wedding on a weekend, which is automatically more expensive. If your guests commit to travelling for your big day, odds are they’ll need to take a couple of days off work regardless for travel. So, off-peak weekdays are your best friends – travel prices should be far more manageable, as should accommodation costs, for you and your guests.
Obviously, everybody wants their wedding to be the picture-perfect version of their fantasy scenario. But unless you’re a millionaire, this is rarely achievable! So if you can make way for a little flexibility, opt for venues that can cover multiple birds with one stone. Popular wedding venues offer all-inclusive packages, so they organise accommodation, catering, decor and music. What’s included in the package varies from place to place, but you should be able to negotiate a good deal that will not only save you money but will also cut down on stress – if your venue is going to take care of more of the nitty-gritty, then you don’t have to stress about it or take up time finding additional suppliers – in another country no less. Hotels will often have good standing relationships with local providers, so you can be sure of tried-and-tested services. Some venues even throw in a wedding planner! Additionally, if the wedding itself won’t be at a hotel, try and find something that’s close to local hotels or bed & breakfasts. Try to keep the ceremony and reception at the same place too, or hopefully within walking distance. This will reduce transfer costs and logistics from place to place – your guests will appreciate this too! – plus when everyone has partied their hearts out, they can stumble into their crashpad that much easier.
On the subject of strategic venues, this will also help you with strategic decor. If you were to rent a hall or restaurant back home, you’re also going to be agonising over things like centrepieces, flowers, candles, those seat bow things… It’s pretty, sure, but a lot of money for something that’s going to be thrown away the next day. Take advantage of your chosen destination’s natural beauty. You don’t need fancy centrepieces or flowers when you’re surrounded by stunning views and the natural greenery of your venue. If you did want flowers, then just pick something seasonal that grows locally! Also, if you wanted to do a winter wedding, most places will already be decorated for the holiday season so you can take advantage of a pre-done winter wonderland and not worry about anything extra!
Get “actually” married at home
It’s a good idea to take care of all the legal bits locally. Arrangements for legal marriages abroad come with a lot of red tape, which vary from country to country, and sorting the paperwork can take weeks if not months, and incur a lot of additional costs. You don’t need that pfaff on top of everything else, so take care of that locally and just enjoy the ceremony and fun parts at your chosen destination!
And finally – Go Digital!
Why not forego save-the-dates and invitations. Of course, they’re beautiful and add a lovely sense of occasion, but bottom line is – it’s a lot of money and hassle (picking colours, picking fonts, picking paper types, picking printers etc) for something that can be done with an email. Plus, sending digital invites is a lot more eco friendly! If you really want a beautiful invitation for sentimental reasons, then why not make a small batch that you only send out to immediate family and wedding party people (Best man, bridesmaids etc), but send eVites to the rest of your guests. Additional advantages to going digital is that it’ll be easier to keep track of RSVPs and food choices – say it with me – spreadsheets! Organised, smooth, sexy spreadsheets…