Destination I Do

Recession-Proof Your Destination Wedding

Words by Jennifer Stein
Recession-Proof Your Destination Wedding
By: Sharon Naylor
A “wedding away” in a glamorous, exotic location is quickly becoming the solution of choice for wedding couples on a budget, since a smaller guest list and freebie-laden destination wedding packages create major relief for a couple’s finances. But you can do even more to plan your dream destination wedding for less. Here are the top 15 tips to live by:
  1. Choose a closer destination. Eliminate pricy airfare and airline baggagefees, passport applications and rental cars by choosing a locale – such as wine country or a ski resort town – that’s just a few hours’ drive away.
  2. Pick a site that offers more, such as free snorkeling and scuba equipment for guests, gratis cocktail parties every night, and beauty treatments for the bridal party.
  3. Inspect ‘all-inclusive’ wedding packages to be sure that everything you need is incorporated. Having to pay for an officiant or entertainers on your own will cost you more.
  4. Choose the right season for your location. Talk to a travel agent and a nearby wedding coordinator to find out which destinations will be in their inexpensive off-seasons and, perhaps more ideally for the nicer weather, ‘shoulder’ season.
  5. Choose the right day of the week. According to Denise Woods of Denise Woods Special Events Planning and Design Firm in Sarasota, Florida, “Venues charge quite a bit less if you get married between Monday and Thursday.”
  6. Choose the right time of day. A morning wedding, with an indulgent, elegant breakfast or brunch menu and mimosas, is a treat for all, keeps you (and your cake) out of the hot midday sun, and could cost more than 60% less.
  7. Research the legalities and legwork. Especially in foreign countries, you could be required to visit the location months in advance to apply in person for your marriage license, get blood work and chest X-rays, and pursue ambassador-signed documents making your marriage legal.
  8. Hire an outside wedding coordinator. Working with a local wedding coordinator you trust to communicate with on-site event planners for you can help you sidestep common errors that would otherwise waste your money.
  9. Don’t be lured into spending more just to get free honeymoon nights. At one hotel, they give a free night’s stay if you book a $20,000 wedding, two nights if you spend $30,000. That’s no savings at all!
  10. Shop the best-priced destination wedding dress resources, such as J. Crew, Target Ann Taylor Celebrations and Bari Jay Bridesmaids. Department store sales may offer destination wedding-worthy dresses for a few hundred dollars, a vast savings over boutique prices.
  11. Check into group discounts for airline tickets. American Airlines offers a discount for groups of ten or more (, plus discounts on car rentals for your group. Call around to different airlines to ask about any special group rates they may offer. Even a 5% discount can add up to a lot.
  12. Ask for freebies and room upgrades, which resorts are now more likely to grant you. One couple arranged for extra food stations and free floraldécor just by asking for them.
  13. Ask for menu changes and replacements. If the site’s menu includes a seafood bar, ask to have a seafood entrée instead, for up to 30% less.
  14. Skip the extra décor. That sunset over the ocean does not need any extra help.
  15. Bring everything you need to avoid pricy gift shop purchases of one-time-use cameras and the like.
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