Destination I Do
Thursday, March 1, 2012

Destination Wedding Tips: Save You and Your Guests a Pretty Penny

Words by Courtney Kellar
Words by Courtney Cox
Photo courtesy of Cara Davis

Worries vary from wedding to wedding, but cost is a universal concern. Destination weddings are unique in that the wedding often extends beyond W-day and includes pre and post-wedding activities. This is wonderful because it allows the bride and groom plenty of time with their guests, but it also drives up cost. However, have no fear! Cara Davis, a wedding expert, published author and blogger has tips and tricks to help you and your guests save money at your destination wedding.

According to, guests spend an average of $500 to attend a destination wedding. In addition, according to, bridesmaids can spend up to $1,400 to be a part of a friend’s big day. Every wedding is different, but here are some general tips for helping to keep costs down for you and your guests.

1. Only invite closest long-term friends and family to your wedding.

Same goes for your bridal party. Keep it to your best friends and siblings. Couples are inviting fewer guests to weddings these days (144 compared to 152 in a 2010 Wedding Report study). Destination weddings often have an even smaller guest list – giving you the intimate atmosphere you’re after. You'll save money too with fewer guests!

If you're looking to inform your greater circle of friends about your nuptials, send out an announcement featuring a photo from your day after the event.

2. Let your bridal party pick their own attire.

If you're lucky enough to score a decent-looking bridesmaids dress, the chances of you ever wearing it again are nil. It's a growing trend to do non-matching dresses. Embrace this practical alternative and choose a color, or give your girls parameters to pick their own dress.

If someone offers their services for your wedding, suggest that be their "gift" to you. Whether it's helping arrange flowers, valet parking or doing hair and makeup, if a friend pitches in for your wedding, let them know their services are the best gift and completely sufficient.

3. Create a gift card registry.

Where there's a wedding, there are showers – and lots of them. Engagement parties, bridal showers, lingerie soirées, house warmings – the parties are as endless as the disco tunes at a reception. Keep the registry simple – and in the 21st century – by creating your wedding gift registry at CardAvenue for gift cards to national retailers. Not only do you forego returning one of two fondue sets, your guests can save on costly shipping charges.

4. Get practical when it comes to accommodations.

Because travel is required to attend and/or be part of your destination wedding, consider your guests' needs. While you want to reserve rooms at a good rate, you don't want them to slum it for the weekend. Many hotels offer special rates for weddings, but you may also find out if local friends and family might offer guest bedrooms for those who may need extra help.
Guests could split a rental car and hotel room. Chances are there will be many others flying from out of town, so an extra trip to an airport or a pullout sofa bed may work just fine.

5. Be thankful.

After the last packet of birdseed has been flung, remember the reason for the event. You want your friends and family to celebrate one of the most important days of your life together. You care that they've sacrificed to be a part of your big day, so don't let that go unacknowledged. Include a note in the wedding program, a toast at the reception or a sweet line of thanks as part of the wedding favor (or on to-go boxes where your guests can take home some grub for later.)

For more information on Cara Davis and ways to save with your wedding, pick up her book Cheap Ways to the Knot or visit

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