How We: Planned A Destination Wedding In Mexico For Under $15K

A weeklong, perfect wedding vacation

Joe, Musician & Justine, Designer

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: The most amazingly radtastic paradise vacation party celebration ever of all time.

Planned Budget: $15,000

Actual Budget: $13,000

Number of guests: 80

Where we allocated the most funds

Travel: Our flights were about $400-plus each round trip and our stay (we stayed in the house the wedding was located at) was about $9000 for the week but had seven bedrooms and eleven bathrooms, so we split the cost of the house to be $200 per room per night.

What I did, that many might not need to do, is that I asked everyone for their flight information as soon as they booked their flights, and asked for their accommodation information. Getting this info from some folks was like pulling teeth, but once I got it all, I generated a list for everyone’s reference. I also took the flight info and arranged for a ride service for everyone to and from the airport so they didn’t have to deal with trying to catch a cab. It was really nice actually; the drivers take your actual flight info so they can track whether your flight is delayed and what not. They were incredibly helpful and sweet.

I also generated a map that listed where all of our guests were staying so that everyone could find each other. This might not be necessary for if your guests all stay at one hotel. But we printed a bunch of the maps and left them (as well as some other necessary goodies) with the shuttle service who distributed them to our guests when they dropped them off at their vacation rentals.

Where we allocated the least funds

Attire: My dress was $400 plus $300 in alterations. The bridesmaids dresses were $30 each, sans alterations. The groom, groomsmen, fathers of the bride and groom, and little brother of the bride’s suits were $700 all together (clearance deal at Jos. A. Bank—buy one get three free)!

What was totally worth it

Everything. Sky lanterns were a hit; they were magical and we only spent $120 on them. The churro guy was also a hit, although I only had a bite of my friend’s who happened to be dancing next to me on the dance floor. No time for dessert when there is awesome music playing.

What was not worth it

Nothing. It was all so wonderful.

A few things that helped us along the way

Our coordinator! Hiring a coordinator was the only thing I put my foot down on, because I didn’t want to be a stressed-out bride who leaves her own wedding early. She was worth every penny times ten. Also, having awesome friends. We were so well supported with love and excitement. Friends offered to help with all sorts of things, but we didn’t even need the help because our coordinator was taking care of everything.

Having a week with all of the wedding guests before the actual wedding also helped us relax, because we were able to visit with everyone and still party and dance on the actual wedding day.

My best practical advice to my planning self

Get a coordinator. Don’t turn this wedding into a stressful project; the engagement is part of the fun so don’t turn it into chaos. Relax and enjoy it. DO NOT work on your wedding day!

My advice to those planning a destination wedding is to stay organized before you get to your destination and then have printed copies of all of your documents. I printed three copies of everything just in case I lost one or wanted to give a copy to a vendor or the coordinator or my maid of honor. Having a printed out list of when people were arriving and departing and where they were staying was really handy. I put all of these documents in a folder with our wedding contracts and such. It was nice having one organized location of anything important that we might need to reference. You’d be surprised how much information your guests expect you to know off hand. It was nice to not have to worry about memorizing information and to just have a document we could reference.

Favorite thing about the wedding

So many things! How happy and handsome my husband looked. That it lasted a week. The music was amazing. We got the best wedding photos to remember it with!

I can’t imagine a better wedding in the whole world.


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  • Guest

    THAT DRESS. Breathtaking. Can you share where you got it?

    • Justine

      Honestly, I got it at a cheap quinceanera dress store in San Diego called Aria but it was the last one (and an extra large!) so I had to alter it. The brand name was Scala. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful on where to find it!

  • Okay this is absolutely amazing. Before we got engaged, my fiance and I were really considering getting married in Mexico at a spot we both really really love. It would have been perfect, I still believe. We ended up going with a destination wedding but in a different state, not country. It’s a new kind of perfect. With nature and people staying in cabins :) But still, I am so jealous of your Mexican wedding. And such an awesome budget!

  • sara g

    Love how you coordinated where all your guests were staying. Our wedding is ending up being a destination wedding for about 85% of our guests, even though it’s in the U.S. Due to a range of budgets and not enough people coming to do room blocks at more than one hotel, we are going to give people some hotel ideas and let them fend for themselves. Mapping out where everyone is staying is a fantastic idea!
    Beautiful wedding and very inspiring that you spent $13,000. (that’s our goal too.)

  • Stephanie

    Love this! We’re planning our destination, week-long wedding in the Outer Banks. Definitely makes me feel better knowing I’m not alone in having almost all of our guests (divorced parents and all) staying in the same house for a week.

  • Sarah

    Absolutely beautiful… I think I might want this wedding! If only it were that cheap to get to Mexico from Australia. *sigh*
    Congratulations to you both!

  • Blair

    AMAZING!! We are finalizing our plans for destination right now and love/must steal the idea to arrange for them to get a ride from the airport. have a quick question. how did you make it clear to them that they still had to pay for it? Is there a gentle (yet abundantly clear) message that we could send?

    • Justine

      I sent out one group email (bcc’ed everyone so there wasn’t obnoxious reply alls) that explained important wedding details as we got closer to our date. In that email is when I asked for everyones flight info and told them that I was collecting it so I could arrange for a shuttle service if they’d like it and said it would cost $60 per person in cash once the driver dropped them off. I don’t know if that was graceful but it didn’t seem to offend anyone. I know it feels awkward and you just feel inclined to pay for things so that you don’t have to talk about money but when you put it out there right from the beginning without being too aggressive about it I think it avoids any awkwardness. Happy wedding planning and congratulations!

  • Gorgeous wedding! The wedding destination as well as the style of the wedding is so beautiful.

  • Hey! This is the town I live in! It is breath-takingly beautiful and a great place for a wedding!

    • Also your churro guy sets up shop literally below my window every single night and it is SO hard to resist. Your wedding sounds lovely and so fun.

  • Lily

    Absolutely perfect in every way. This is pretty much exactly what I want except maybe a little closer to home and a long weekend instead of a week. Curious, did you do a honeymoon after the wedding as well? Would love it if you would do a “how we did it” post!!

  • Ok, this is EXACTLY the post I’ve been looking for! What a beautiful wedding!

    I have a few questions for you if you wouldn’t answering them. I would appreciate it so, so much. If you’re willing, please contact me at Thank you :)

  • Courtney

    I would like to plan a very similar wedding at villa milagros. Do you think I could ask you a few questions offline?