Destination Weddings On A Budget – Local vs Destination

Destination weddings on a budget? Is this possible? It all depends on what you are willing to let go to to get the perfect setup of your dreams. This post details how you can achieve your tropical beach wedding and spend less than you would at a local wedding.

You read it well. Less.

Less money and also less stressful. Please, bear with me, I will get to this part after a little history on how I came to consider a destination wedding in the first place.

A few months ago, I went on a 6-day vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica with a couple of friends. While we were there, we saw that every late afternoon a different wedding celebration was taking place in a reserved location of the beach.

I remember thinking “Wow! What an awesome setup: beautiful Jamaican soft sand beach, warm breeze, guests looking relaxed bare feet in the sand waiting for the bride to walk down the most romantic aisle there is to her groom. Let me describe the aisle: a sandy path is strewn with bright pink and orange hibiscus flowers leading to a flowery arch altar draped with a white fabric floating in the breeze.



Did I mention the backdrop? The Caribbean sea!

That was my first impression. Then I started thinking in a practical manner (yeah, I love playing the spoilsport…)

Seriously, I’m a down-to-earth person so I decided to look into this and see if there was even the smallest possibility that I could afford such wedding. Not only in terms of money but also regarding any destination vs local wedding aspect that could be touchy:

– Who should be invited? Only nearest family and friends (not more than 50 people) Everyone? This means around 150 to 200 persons, maybe more…

– When is the best season to go?

– How is everything else put together? (choice of dishes, cake type, photography, gown transportation,  etc.)

– Are there legal requirements?

– Is there such thing as destination weddings on a budget?


After hours of searching, I came across enough information to say that it mostly depends on each hotel and the services they offer for wedding celebrations.

When looking for destination weddings on a budget you must know that every hotel offers services that may not be offered at another hotel. Some of them are poor and others are highly specialized in customized weddings. Some airlines are also offering very neat extras when it comes to wedding or group vacations such as:

  • Priority check-in
  • Seat selection
  • Extra 10kg for your luggage
  • Sparkling wine
  • Wedding announcement (if you feel like it)
  • Specific storage space for your wedding gown


There is a lot to take into account to find real destination weddings on a budget. I will try to break it down for you here. At the end of this post, you should at the very least have all on hand to weigh the pros and cons of both destination and a local wedding.


The Best Time To Book

Affodable beach wedding destination

Local: Depending on where you live you may have to consider a date between May and early October in order to have a sunny and warm temperature.

Destination: Even though the tropical temperature is averaging between 24 and 30 degrees all year long, there are three times in the year that you should avoid booking your wedding date:

  • Rainy season in October and November
  • Hurricane season. The worst of it happens in autumn, but it begins in June.
  • Spring break in March.

The high season is between December and April. This means that prices are higher and that you will have to book about 6 months and sometimes a year in advance to make sure you get the week(s) you want. Also, keep in mind that summertime is very hot and therefore it may not be very comfortable to wear gowns and ties.

In my opinion end of April, May and June are probably a good compromise when looking for destination weddings on a budget. You don’t want to spend as much money as you would during high season and avoid tropical storms. In any case, always make sure you discuss what options are available in the event of a storm (relocate in another resort, postpone your trip, cancellation, etc.)

In any case, always make sure you discuss what options are available in the event of a storm (relocate in another resort, postpone your trip, cancellation, etc.)



Wedding Planning Craziness

Local: If you have an accurate idea of what you want your wedding to be like it should considerably reduce the amount of time and stress you’ll have to go through… unless you are having a hard time getting what you want.

Hiring an experienced wedding planner is a good approach especially if you are looking to customize your wedding or to add luxury elements.

Choosing a wedding gown and outfit accessories can take time. Choosing high-end venues for both the celebration and ceremony (religious or civil), decorating the venues, wedding flowers and bouquets, choosing a hair and makeup artist, dishes, cake, music band, cocktail animation, etc. is something that takes lots of patience! And time.

You also need to know about companies offering the services at a good price and delivered on time! I’ve heard many horror stories about wedding celebration where the cake that was delivered was not the one ordered or the makeup artist arrived an hour late. Worst, the caterer didn’t show up!


Destination: Destination weddings on a budget doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own to save money. This is a completely different experience as you usually don’t physically visit the venues, meet your makeup artist or hair stylist before you arrive at the hotel resort.

In this case, a destination wedding specialist can take care of everything: booking flights and hotel rooms for you and your guests, paperwork, and legal aspects and to the wedding itself (ceremony and party).

He or she provides you with a list of 3 or 4 hotel resort list, according to your budget and interests. Once you made your decision, the destination wedding specialist ensures that everything goes according to the plan.

Of course, you must agree to delegate and therefore you should establish a trustworthy relationship with the destination wedding specialist. Your travel agent can help you find one, but it’s also a good idea to ask people around you for referrals or talk to more than one and see with whom you get along best.


Venues And Outdoor Wedding

Local: More people want to get married outside… if mother nature allows. There are many great ways to have an outdoor wedding no matter the weather.

Vineyards and many historical sites and gardens can be rent for your wedding day. Spacious tents with all amenities can also be rent if there are no indoors installation available in case it rains.

Just keep in mind that the more facilities you add the more money it will cost.


Destination: The good thing about tropical weather is that it rarely rains during a whole day (unless you go during the hurricane season). It’s usually more like a short but heavy rainfall.

Many hotel resorts offer all kinds of options like an outside ceremony on the beach, indoor dinner and celebration party with access to a private pool and jacuzzi, etc. for the same price!

Remember that hotels offering wedding packages are used to customer’s specific requests and needs and they are usually very happy to meet your expectations as this is how they make their money. So don’t be shy and ask!


Honeymoon Ups And Downs

Local: Your wedding day will likely end late in the night. Feeling both exhausted and crazy in love, you have to catch a plane early in the morning to go to your idyllic honeymoon. You will wake up to your loved one not too sure where you are when you finally realize that you are sitting in the waiting area for your plane to board…


Destination: Your wedding day will likely end late in the night. Feeling both exhausted and crazy in love, you will crawl into your king size bed. You will wake up to your loved one late in the morning and have breakfast on your ocean front balcony!

I made my choice, I let you decide. Just be careful not to sleep with your face on the chocolate candy that the maid has left on your pillow. Personal experience…


The Guests List

Local: If you always dreamt of a big wedding with hundred of guests, this is a good option. It’s easier to have more people when they live close by to attend your wedding.

Talking to friends made me realize that we all tend to feel the social pressure to invite the whole family, neighbors, and colleagues. The truth is we don’t see them that often the rest of the year and it will make the cost of your wedding raise sharply.


Destination: I would suggest that you make a list of the people that you really want at your wedding and touch base with them to see if they are comfortable traveling.

Some people are really reluctant to travel by plane for many reasons. If you prefer a more intimate celebration but feel guilty not to invite everyone, worry no more. The perspective of a destination wedding makes a natural selection of the people that will come.

Not everyone is ready to take a few days off for the wedding. Think of it this way: if your best friend gets married in Turks & Caicos you would plan your vacations accordingly to be able to attend. However, you may not for a cousin that you last saw 5 years ago.



A Day Or A Week Long Celebration

Local: Usually the wedding celebration lasts a day or two and there is a traditional rehearsal dinner.


Destination: Guests stay a few days to enjoy the hotel all-inclusive facilities such as “à la carte” restaurant, beach, pool, shows, etc. or go sightseeing.

Newlyweds may decide to stay for 2 weeks or go on a 3 to a 4-day cruise. The additional cost is low if you book in advance.

Many hotel brands own other hotel resorts in nearby cities and offer the option to move to another hotel no charge when booked in advance.



Destination Weddings On A Budget… But How Will Guests React?

Destination weddings on a budget are really feasible if that is what you want.

Now, if you think that some close friends or family members may feel left out, you can still plan to have a dinner or brunch to commemorate the event prior or after the big day.

This will show that you are sensitive and aware of other people without forgetting what you really want for your big day.




Destination weddings on a budget are about deciding between the wedding you expected at home and what you get at a destination wedding for the same price.

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it helps you decide which options is best for you. If you have any questions or just want to share your personal experience feel free to leave a comment. I will happily reply to you.

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