4 Ways a Destination Wedding Can Save You Money and Stress

You look like you could use a vacation from wedding planning

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer


Couple on beach with flower crown at Destination Wedding

I know that the wedding industry and Hollywood like to pretend that every woman’s dream is to plan a wedding. But for a not insignificant number of us, the real reaction to getting engaged goes something like this. “OMG we’re engaged, yay! Oh wait, I have to actually… plan an event? With like venue searches and menu tastings and day-of-timeline planning? NO THANK YOU.” And then you begrudgingly start your Googling, while daydreaming of a world where everything is taken care of for you, and decision fatigue never happens. Maybe with a beach. And one of those drinks with the little umbrellas.

It’s easy to assume destination weddings are more complicated and cost prohibitive than traditional weddings. Because anything involving a tropical location and unlimited drinks must have some kind of catch, right? Except, surprise! It turns out that destination weddings can actually be the more chill option. And even more surprising? Sometimes they’re the more affordable option too. So if you’ve just started wedding planning and are feeling like maybe putting together a big event isn’t for you (but you still want to have your closest people there when you get married), we’ve partnered with DestinationWeddings.com to give you five reasons why it’s totally okay to ditch your plans and run away somewhere warm.

wedding party on beach in coral dresses

One for the money, two for the show

If you had to guess how much the average destination wedding costs, how much would you guess? $20,000? $30,000? Try a lot less than that. The average DestinationWeddings.com wedding costs $10,000. I KNOW. How is that possible at a place with its own swim up bar? Because destination weddings work differently than normal weddings. Most all-inclusive resorts are already set up to provide you with unlimited food, drink, and entertainment, so they’ve got the infrastructure for a wedding built in. Plus, since you’ll already be in a lovely tropical location, you can roll your wedding budget and honeymoon budget into one. (Some resorts even offer an extra few days for free to the couple getting married, so you get a mini-moon built into your wedding package at no cost.)

couple on beach at destination wedding with child

People, Places, and Things

I once photographed a wedding for a couple getting married in Puerto Rico. Their sole reason for choosing a destination wedding? Complicated family dynamics. They knew with a destination wedding, they could keep things small and that their guests would be entertained and out of their hair. Which brings up an important point: destination weddings can actually be really awesome for guests (and as a byproduct, really good for your stress level). Let’s be real. Traveling for a wedding anywhere that’s not within driving distance is already complicated. Sometimes it costs more to fly to Kansas than it does to get to the Caribbean. So if most of your guests are already flying in from out of town, they may be thrilled at the idea of getting a vacation out of the deal. And that goes double for out of town guests with kids. Lots of all-inclusive resorts are kid friendly, with special kid zones and even babysitters on hand. On the flip side, if you’re looking for a convenient excuse to keep the guest list small, a wedding in Mexico might just do the trick. (What? I’m not judging.)

Speaking of people, here’s a hot tip: wedding vendors are always talking about how much they love to travel, which means they are usually willing to waive some or all of their travel fees to go somewhere they’ve never been before. So if you’ve got your heart set on that super cool photographer across the country, there’s no shame in making that work for you.

brides on beach with palm tree at destination wedding

Let’s Talk About that Catamaran Tour

The week before a wedding is usually intense, jam-packed with errands, last-minute projects, and general running around. Which means there isn’t a whole lot of time for… fun. But the days leading up to a destination wedding? Think snorkeling with your boo or taking a catamaran tour with your guests. So while you might spend the same amount of money as you would on a more traditional wedding, there’s also the opportunity to get way more fun out of it. And when you book with DestinationWeddings.com, they throw in a $200 credit toward cool excursions to do with your best people. All I’m saying is… I have a lot of far away weddings to go to this year, and if one of them involved the option of sailing along crystalline waters while jamming to Beyoncé and sipping champagne, I wouldn’t complain.

destination wedding tent with lanterns and white decor

#Lazygirl planning for the win

If choosing a venue and doing menu tastings is sort of your personal nightmare, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that picking table linens and place settings is probably also high on the list of things you’d rather not bother yourself with. No worries, because with an all-inclusive resort, you don’t have to think about any of that. Their complimentary wedding packages usually include everything you could ask for (ceremony decor, reception space, music, chairs, linens, etc.). All you have to do is pick option A, B, C, or D and boom, all your decisions are done. And with DestinationWeddings.com, the planning service is even included at no charge. Plus, how much do you really care about napkin colors and place settings when the beach is your backdrop? Answer: none.

So if you’re ready to give up on planning a wedding, but still want… a wedding, and you’d prefer if said wedding cost roughly $10,000, then it might be time to reframe how you think about destination weddings. And then let someone like DestinationWeddings.com do the heavy lifting for you. Because that’s straight up what they are there for.


This post was sponsored by DestinationWeddings.com. DestinationWeddings.com is a one-stop destination for all your wedding planning needs. Their all-in-one packages include exclusive savings starting at $4,570 (and up!), and better yet, their services are 100% free of any service charge. Choose from top resorts in amazing locations, and even get credit toward fun adventures and excursions. They’ll do all the boring stuff for you. Click here to start planning your destination wedding with DestinationWeddings.com today. 

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Images (from top to bottom): Shutterstock | Katya Nova Photography | Ambrogetti Ameztoy Photo Studio | Mark Chaird of Chaird Photo |  Tropic One Studio

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Angela’s Back

    This is all so true. My husband and I did a destination wedding + honeymoon in Hawaii in November for something between 8 and 10k and it was great. We had a morning ceremony in a public botanical garden for free with all the associated spectacular backdrops and a lunchtime reception at a Japanese restaurant in downtown Honolulu. I should note that we had a *very* small, family-only guest list (10 including us), although the only place having a larger guest list really would have made a difference in terms of total cost was the reception and car rental, as we provided the vehicles for everyone to travel between the hotel and the wedding venue. But it can be done!! Also, anyone getting married on a budget in Hawaii and not working with a place where there’s a photographer included should check out Jamie-Lee Tang of JTang Productions, we had her for two hours on our weekday morning wedding, paid a cool $750 and got about 250 photos back [more than enough for us] that we loved.

  • Lesley

    We got married in Rincon, Puerto Rico three years ago. It was incredible. Our family is all over the place and we figured if people had to travel they might as well travel to somewhere fun. Our wedding was about 15k for 45 guests and that included 4 nights in the 8 bedroom luxury home that we rented for the wedding.
    For me the best part of having a destination wedding was getting to spend a lot of time with our guests and our guests getting to know each other. My grandma showed up to the wedding carrying our friends 6 month old. They had never met, but after spending 3 days together everyone was friends!

  • sofar

    The last destination wedding I went to was my cousin’s and it basically acted as a really nice family reunion. Since fewer people came, I got to spend quality time with the relatives who did come — sitting on the beach, sailing, white-water rafting.

  • Alyssa

    This is partially why we are doing a destination wedding in Paris! To most people’s surprise, the whole shebang in Paris is less than what we would be paying in our area, and is so much more aligned with what we want than what we would feel forced to to through another venue.

  • Sarah

    I wanted to do a destination wedding for most of these reasons. We were thinking of going to the Riviera Maya- cheap flights to Cancun, affordable resorts, easy to get to for my guests all of whom are east of the Mississippi. If you aren’t picky, I think destination weddings are awesome. If you have to have a certain look, specific flowers or cake, then I think it would be a nightmare. If you want something unique, then they definitely aren’t for you, as your wedding will look exactly like every other wedding at that resort. However, I was really looking forward to just showing up a week in advance- being handed a binder with a choice of 5 wedding cakes, 5 bouquet options, 5 dinner entree options, and deciding everything quickly.

    Unfortunately, my parents freaked out about it, and basically emotionally blackmailed us into doing a big wedding stateside, “If you get married in Mexico, we won’t be coming.” So if you are going to do a destination wedding, before you get your heart set on it, make sure that your must-have guests will not throw a temper tantrum and ruin your plans.

    • NolaJael

      While that response seems incredibly harsh, I do think that there’s a generational gap here too. I don’t condone the “we’re not coming” response, but I can see how people of our parents’ generation would perceive it as more of an etiquette faux pas than younger people do.

      • Fushigidane

        Is that what it is? I got a similar response when I was looking at venues in South Jersey vs North Jersey.

        • NolaJael

          LOL, well east coasters do have a different idea of what “far” is. I grew up in Montana and we would drive 7-10 hours to play a 90 minute soccer game like it was NBD.

          But, yes, I think there’s a strong urge not to inconvenience important guests, but the bride and groom think their college roommate is important versus parents who think their business partner or Great Aunt Jamie who doesn’t fly anymore is important.

  • NolaJael

    This article is spot on that with spread out families, many times people will already be traveling so a “destination” wedding isn’t the same burden that is sometimes is implied with the name. Just among our parents and siblings alone people had to come from four time zones and as far as 400 miles apart in different areas of California. This is drastically different than when my parents married many moons ago and all their parents and siblings lived in one state, and only a few aunts/uncles and friends had to travel in.

  • itsaprocess

    Just wanted to chime in here with a big Fuck Yeah Travel and also a reminder to please consider the economic impact of your choices. Obviously, there are ton of ways to do a destination wedding, or any wedding, for that matter, and sometimes you just need to save your sanity and go for the easiest solution, which is absolutely legit. However, a lot of these all-inclusive resorts can be really harmful to the local economy and exploitative of the communities they exist in. I would encourage folks to do some research on the front end to make sure that their money is going to a business that is aligned with their values, whatever those are.

  • Awesome blog, interesting, thank you for sharing the blog .

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