Outdoor destination wedding ceremony in Hawaii, with guests gathered on a lush green lawn facing the ocean. Tall palm trees sway above, framing a clear blue sky. White chairs line the aisle leading to the bride and groom at the altar near the sea

Destination Weddings Tips

So what is the average cost of a destination wedding?

Navigating the landscape of destination wedding planning begins with understanding the financial commitment involved. The overall cost of a wedding has seen a range of fluctuations, influenced by various factors such as location, guest count, and the level of luxury desired. Generally, couples can expect the average cost to fall between $20,000 and $200,000. This broad spectrum accounts for both domestic and international settings, with the latter often commanding a pricey number due to additional airfare and accommodation expenses. 

However, this figure is highly variable, with some affordable destinations offering all-inclusive packages that can significantly reduce costs, while others, known for their exclusivity and opulence, may see budgets stretching well beyond the average. It’s crucial for couples to consider not just the base cost of the venue and accommodations, but also the ancillary expenses such as local vendor services, legal requirements for marrying abroad, and the potential need to visit the site beforehand, all of which contribute to the overall financial picture of a destination wedding in 2023.

Destination Wedding Pros and Cons

Choosing a destination wedding is a dream for many couples, offering an unforgettable backdrop for their special day. However, like any significant decision, it comes with its own set of pros and cons that should be carefully weighed.


  1. Unique and Memorable Experience: Destination weddings provide a unique setting that stands out from traditional venues, creating memorable experiences not just for the couple, but also for their guests.
  2. Combining Wedding and Honeymoon: Many couples take advantage of the opportunity to combine their wedding location with their honeymoon destination, saving on additional travel costs and time.
  3. Smaller Guest List: Destination weddings often result in a smaller, more intimate gathering, which can lead to significant savings on catering, seating, and venue size.
  4. Stunning Photos: The natural beauty and exotic locations of destination weddings offer breathtaking backdrops for wedding ceremony photos.
  5. Less Stress with All-inclusive Packages: Many resorts and venues offer all-inclusive wedding packages that handle the details of the day, from decor to catering, reducing the planning stress for couples.


  1. Cost: While the idea of a destination wedding is appealing, the costs can add up quickly, especially when factoring in travel and accommodations for the couple and potentially for guests.
  2. Logistical Challenges: Planning a wedding from afar introduces logistical complexities, from coordinating vendors to understanding local marriage laws.
  3. Guest Attendance: The travel required for a destination wedding may limit the ability of some guests to attend, particularly those with budget or mobility constraints.
  4. Legal and Paperwork Requirements: Marrying in another country can involve navigating a maze of legal requirements and paperwork, which can be daunting and time-consuming.
  5. Limited Control Over Details: Relying on local vendors and coordinators means couples may have less control over the minutiae of their wedding day compared to a local event.

while destination weddings offer an idyllic and intimate setting for saying “I do,” they require careful consideration of the associated costs, logistical planning, and potential impact on guest attendance. Balancing the pros and cons is essential for couples to ensure their wedding fulfills their dreams without overshadowing the joy of their special day.

Destination wedding photographer captures a couple holding hands in a vast meadow with the majestic, snow-capped peaks of Mount Fitz Roy in the background, showcasing the bride's flowing gown and the groom's stylish brown suit
destination wedding in patagonia

Cost of Domestic vs. International Destination Weddings

When thinking about where to have your dream destination wedding, you can choose between two main types: having it in your own country (domestic) or going to another country (international). Let’s look at how they are different in terms of cost.

Domestic Destination Weddings:

  • Travel: Usually, local weddings are cheaper and easier to travel within your own country. This means you and your guests might spend less money getting to the wedding.
  • Planning: It’s often easier to plan a wedding in your own country because you’re more familiar with how things work. You might not need to worry about language barriers or different laws.
  • Cost: Overall, having your wedding in your own country can be less expensive. You might find deals or packages that fit your budget better.

International Destination Weddings:

  • Travel: Traveling to another country can be more expensive. You and your guests might have to pay for flights, which can add up.
  • Exciting Locations: But, getting married in another country can be very exciting. You can choose from beautiful beaches in the caribbean, historic cities, or gorgeous countryside locations.
  • Extra Costs: Sometimes, you might have to pay more for things like paperwork or hiring local vendors. It’s also important to think about currency exchange rates, which can change how much you’re actually spending.

whether you choose a domestic or international wedding depends on what you dream your special day to be like and how much you’re willing to spend. Both options can make for an unforgettable wedding day!

What influences the cost of a destination wedding? & Tips for saving money

Planning a wedding is like putting together a big puzzle. Some pieces can make the wedding cost more, and some can help you save money. Let’s look at what can change the cost and how you can save some cash.

Manage Wedding Budget with Guest List

Why It Matters: The number of guests you invite affects your budget a lot. More guests mean you’ll need more food, bigger spaces, and more invitations.

Tip: Think about inviting just your closest friends and family. This makes the wedding more special and can save you money.

Consider the Date of Your Wedding

Why It Matters: Wedding date can change the cost. Peak season are more popular and expensive because of the weather or holidays.

Tip: To reduce the cost, getting married in the off-season can be cheaper. BUTTTT, if you decide to be cheap and get married on the beach during hurricane season it will not be worth the experience. What i recommend is book more than a year in advance to lock down the date you want at a lower rate. 

Take Advantage of the Resort’s Perks

Why It Matters: All-Inclusive resorts offer special things for weddings, like free decorations or a cake. These can add up to big savings.

Tip: Ask your resort what perks they offer for weddings. Using these freebies can help you stick to your budget.

What’s the Deal with Gifts at a Destination Wedding?

Why It Matters: Guests spending money to come to your wedding might wonder if they also need to bring a gift. So some guests might ended up not be able to attend.

Tip: Let your guests know that you don’t expect gifts. Their presence at your wedding is a wonderful gift itself thus increasing the chance that your love ones can make it

Bride and groom sharing a kiss in a charming courtyard with Spanish architecture, as guests mingle in the background under warm glowing lights. The bride's elegant lace train cascades down the steps, complementing the romantic evening atmosphere at this destination wedding

Who pays for what with a destination wedding?

What the Couple Covers:

The couple traditionally takes care of all the wedding day festivities. This includes not just the ceremony itself but also the cocktail reception and a formal sit-down dinner complete with drinks and entertainment to delight their guests.

Guest Contributions:

Guests are expected to cover their own travel expenses, including flights and accommodations at the chosen resort. This arrangement allows guests the flexibility to manage their own travel plans and budgets.

Additional Kindnesses from the Couple:

While not obligatory, many couples choose to host a few extra events to show their gratitude to guests who’ve made the journey. These can include:

  • A welcome party to greet guests as they arrive, setting the tone for the celebration.
  • A group excursion, offering a unique experience that takes advantage of the destination’s local attractions.
  • A farewell brunch, providing a lovely conclusion to the festivities and a chance to say goodbye before parting ways.

These additional gatherings, though optional, are a wonderful way to extend the celebration and thank your guests for their presence, making their trip even more memorable.

Choosing your destination wedding location

Reflect on Your Personal Style and Wedding Theme

our wedding venue should reflect your personal style and the overall theme you envision for your big day. Whether it’s a beach wedding, a bustling cityscape, or a cozy mountain retreat, choose a location that brings your wedding vision to life.

Assess Logistics and Accessibility

It’s important to choose a venue that’s easily reachable for both you and your guests. Consider travel distances, available transportation, and nearby accommodations to ensure everyone can attend comfortably.

Understand Budget and Value

Different destinations come with varying price tags. Look for a venue that aligns with your financial plan. All-inclusive packages might offer savings and simplify planning, so explore those options thoroughly.

Consider the Guest Experience

Consider the overall experience for your guests, including available activities, cultural attractions, and the comfort of their stay. A memorable guest experience often includes unique local experiences and convenient amenities.

Tap into Local Culture and Traditions

Embracing the local culture and traditions of your wedding destination can add a unique and memorable element to your ceremony and reception. Especially when you come from a non-western background. It’s a wonderful way to honor the locale and offer guests an immersive experience.

By considering these aspects, couples can make a well-rounded and informed decision on their destination wedding location, ensuring it aligns with their desires, practical requirements, and values.

couple standing in front of glacier point in yosemite for their destination wedding ceremony

Local vs Destination wedding photographer – Legal details to consider

When planning a wedding, one of the big decisions you’ll face is choosing your photographer. Do you hire a local photographer who knows the area, or do you bring a photographer from home? Each option has its benefits and things to think about.

Local Photographers:


  • Familiarity with the Location: Local photographers know the best spots for photos, including hidden gems you might not find otherwise.
  • No Travel Costs: Hiring locally means you won’t need to cover travel and accommodation costs for your photographer.


  • Communication: If there’s a language barrier or cultural differences, it might be a bit harder to communicate your vision. If for some reason you run into issue with these local photographer, it ill harder to purse things legally when they operate in a different country than your home country, they might even operate in different laws entirely.
  • Style and Portfolio: You need to make sure their style matches what you’re looking for, and sometimes it’s harder to meet in person to discuss these details. so check out their wedding website, if its a part of an destination wedding package, they’re most likely suck. like really suck.

Destination Photographers (from your home country):


  • Personal Connection: It’s often easier to build a rapport and communicate with someone from your area, ensuring they understand exactly what you want. 
  • Consistency in Style: You’ve likely chosen them because their portfolio matches the style you’re after, ensuring your wedding photos will turn out just how you envision.


  • Additional Costs: Bringing a photographer with you means covering their travel and accommodation, which adds to your budget. They might say that there’s “NO TRAVEL FEE” its might not be true! As a destination photographer myself i used to imbedded the travel cost into my wedding packages. So if you do come across a photographer that say they doesn’t charge travel fee, see if their rate is higher than usual comparing to other local photographer in their area. 
  • Less Local Knowledge: They might not know the area as well, potentially missing out on unique local photo opportunities.

Should you visit your wedding destination in advance?

Seeing the location firsthand allows you to assess the space, meet with local vendors, and make detailed plans with more confidence. While it adds to your budget, the benefits of ironing out logistics and building a rapport with your planner and vendors can be worth the expense. However, if you’re familiar with the destination or fully trust your wedding coordinator or wedding planner, this trip might be optional. Ultimately, deciding to visit in advance depends on your need for reassurance and the complexity of your wedding arrangements.

telluride destination wedding of bride and groom running down the town

Looking for a destination wedding photographer?


Is a destination wedding price cheaper than a local wedding?

yes and no, destination wedding pricing can be cheaper in 2nd or 3rd world countries like Mexico or Purto Rico but more expensive in 1st world country like Switzerland. 

Is $10,000 a good destination wedding budget?

yes but it will be for small intimate wedding

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