An Extravagant Affair

Avoid Pitfalls of Wedding Budgeting

March 12, 2015
Words by Tammy Vong with
Photos courtesy of Photo by Basia

Stop! Put down the credit card. Before you buy that gorgeous handbag that perfectly matches your wedding shoes, tap into your inner financial goddess and consider that you will likely carry it only once during your entire destination wedding celebration. With Financial Literacy Month around the corner (falling in April), now is the perfect time to replace credit cards with calculators and get serious about budgeting for the big day.  

Money Management International reports that Americans are carrying more than $2 trillion in consumer debt. How much of that debt is compounded by the costs incurred by a wedding? According to CNNMoney, the average wedding in the United States cost approximately $30,000 in 2014, with 15% of American couples spending more than $40,000 on their wedding and related events, not including the honeymoon. The median income in the United States is around $54,000.

But wait, what about destination weddings? It’s true that not as many people can travel to exotic locations, so you can typically reduce your guest list — while drastically reducing your price-per-person. But cost savings can heavily rely on the location and an out-of-the-way locale may leave you with limited options in terms of vendors, meal choices and more.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to be cautious during the planning phases for destination weddings. Over the years I’ve been privy to the many good, and unfortunately some bad, choices couples have made during their quest to plan their idyllic “I Do’s” in the many exciting destinations featured on So I’ve compiled a list of the top financial “I Don’ts” for you to consider.

Best Destination Wedding’s Top “I Don’ts”:

I Don’t: Spend Too Much on a Dress. Of course we all want to look our best on our big day, but after its debut your dress will sit idly in a closet for the rest of its life. Dreaming that your daughter-to-be will wear it? Are you wearing your mom’s? Exactly. Consider renting a designer gown or if you must have one you can call your own, possibly recoup some of the money at a consignment shop.

I Don’t: Get Married on a Saturday Evening. You can save up to 30-40% if you do not book your nuptials on a popular Saturday evening. Consider a Friday or Sunday evening affair instead. An elegant Saturday luncheon is not too shabby. Destination weddings provide the perfect opportunity for you to get away with this. Everyone’s on vacation anyway! Who is keeping track of what day it is?

I Don’t: Show All My Cards. During your initial research, there’s no need to fess up that you’re planning a wedding. Many vendors charge higher rates for weddings, simply because they can! Try to get vendors’ normal rates by offering as little information as possible in the beginning.

I Don’t: Take Venue Prices at Face Value. The wedding venue can quickly eat up your entire budget. While a starting price may appear attractive, know that additional items—such as linens, chairs, even forks—can increase the bottom line. Plan out the details you’ll want ahead of time so you can gather the costs of all items from each possible venue, rather than comparing starting prices.

I Don’t: Take A Honeymoon Flight. Considering you’ve planned a destination wedding, you’re already in paradise, so why leave? If the pressures of family and stress make you feel like getting out of dodge, retreat to a different hotel, resort or even town rather than coughing up more money for another airplane flight. But remember that you may be turning your back on a deal from your wedding venue as many of them will throw in discounted rates if you stay through your honeymoon. Possibly various day trips will suffice as an escape?

I Don’t: Go It Alone. Using a travel agency doesn’t cost you extra and can save you a lot of money. Some, like Wright Travel Agency, specialize in destination wedding planning and are a valuable resource for wedding travel planning and finding you the best deals. Time is money, so make sure to save your precious time by choosing an agency that will handle the countless travel questions your guests will inevitably have.

Yes, your wedding will probably be the single most extravagant affair you will ever plan, but don’t let the excitement get to your head. Do your research and compare costs ahead of time in order to plan your budget. Stick to your guns and resist the temptation to splurge here and there — remember that it quickly adds up. You do not need to let wedding overspending set the course of your financial future together as a newly married couple.

Weddings at Sandals
Iberostar Destination Weddings

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