Bride on a Budget

July 21, 2013
Words by Jennifer Stein
Photos courtesy of

There still seems to be a misconception about the expenses associated with doing a destination wedding. Many are still under the impression that having a wedding away costs more than celebrating in your hometown. Industry expert and Chief Operating Officer of, Ed Cotton, sets the record straight about how experiencing a destination wedding in a fabulous location can actually save you money. If you’re a bride on a budget (no matter how big or small), a destination wedding may be just what the wedding planner ordered

Q: Can a couple who wants to do a destination wedding expect to pay more or less than a traditional hometown affair?

A: Much less in fact. If your budget required it, you really wouldn’t have to spend much more on your wedding than what the cost of your honeymoon would be.

The majority of all-inclusive resorts in places such as Mexico, Jamaica and other destinations in the Caribbean specialize in destination weddings and execute them extremely well. Many times, they will give amenities based on the number of rooms booked. Sometimes booking as few as ten rooms will get you a free wedding.

The all-inclusive Palace Resorts has just announced their partnership with Celebrity Wedding Planner, Colin Cowie. He has designed spectacular wedding packages for the resorts. Most think they would be incredibly expensive, but in fact there are a few free packages. The bride and groom are simply required to stay seven nights and you can have access to one of the most expensive wedding designers at no cost.

Inversely, if you’re someone with a high budget, you could have the most elegant wedding imaginable. From my personal experience, resorts in Mexico do the most amazing work. If you were to take your vision to a hotel in the U.S. and say “I want to have this wedding for this price,” they would say you’re out of your mind. Events are so much less expensive in Mexico. I’ve seen the most incredible weddings there, the likes of which I’ve never seen in the U.S.

What it boils down to is this: would you rather spend $30,000 on a four-hour chicken dinner in a reception hall, or take that same money and put it toward a down payment on a home? Start your marriage on a good financial footing with a home and begin building for your family’s future.

Q: Aren’t the travel expenses for guests going to cost them quite a bit more?

A: If your family and friends need to travel for your wedding already, the expense of doing a destination wedding is negligible. And let’s be honest, who wants to travel to Detroit in February versus going to the Bahamas for a long weekend or week-long getaway? There are things you can do to keep your guests’ costs in mind, such as booking group rates through your destination wedding specialist for airfare, hotels and excursions.

Keep in mind, even in the case where it might be more, your loved ones are paying for a wonderful experience you all get to share together, which is much different than having guests stay overnight in your hometown. The expense is still there, but with a destination wedding, it becomes a vacation as well as a shared experience.

Q: How can I take advantage of discounts on hotels, car rental, group excursions etc.?

A: Working with travel professionals like allows them to work with wholesalers who don’t work with the public. By booking a group in advance, you lock in a lower room rate. Our couples often book a year or more before the wedding, therefore the availability is higher and the rates are the lowest. A travel professional is going to know the best way to save you money. Combining your guests’ travel and rooms into a group results in tremendous savings. This applies to everything – transfers, excursions etc. Also, selecting an all-inclusive resort creates cost savings.

We offer an easy payment plan for our couples and their guests. A couple who comes to us to plan their destination wedding and determines they want their wedding at a certain resort one year in advance, can do an equal payment to pay for it with no surprises. A monthly payment is painless compared to paying for everything all at once, thus eliminating the financial stress       and burden.

Q: Won’t it cost me a fortune to pay for the wedding, rehearsal dinner and any other events leading up to the wedding?

A: It can cost you anywhere from zero on up, depending on what you want to do. Many of the resorts’ free wedding packages include things like rehearsal dinners. It depends on the resort. This is where a destination wedding specialist becomes incredibly helpful. They will know what all the resorts are offering, like a promotion which isn’t offered directly to the public.

A lot of couples today make their destination wedding an experience by including other events which engage their guests. Perhaps the couple might want to host an excursion so they can share in the fun together. Couples sometimes host excursions if budget permits, but many times everyone pays for themselves. It easily creates a vacation experience when you’re with your closest friends and family.

Q: I’m worried that people won’t come to my wedding because they’re too focused on the cost – is there anything I can do to ensure they get the most for their money and keep the cost low?

A: Brides and grooms make assumptions about what their friends and family are willing to pay. Many times they are incorrect. We advise them to go to their loved ones and ask them to make sure everyone is on the same page. Most are more than happy to pay for a four-star hotel because they are looking at the destination wedding as an excuse to have their yearly vacation.

At, we have the ability to send out either email or traditional save-the-date cards for our couples. This allows guests to confirm their room reservations within 30 days. This eliminates the need for the couple to pay a deposit for all the rooms. Couples can then get things solidified and the financial responsibility is not on them. I can tell you that 95% of our groups book right away, which relieves stress and adds to the savings.

Again, by working with a destination wedding specialist like, couples and guests will save money. We have the ability to work directly with wholesalers and get discounts you wouldn’t be able to get on your own. So in the end, having a destination wedding can actually save you money!

Weddings at Sandals
Iberostar Destination Weddings

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