What Is The Average Cost Of A Destination Wedding?

DSC05555Knowing the average cost of a destination wedding gives couples an idea of whether they should be considering one themselves.

After all, couples don’t need an excuse to get married in an exotic location far away from home.

In fact, one out of every four weddings is now a destination wedding.

So what does the average destination wedding cost?

According to the 2012 Knot survey, the average destination wedding cost is about $20,000. If you include the honeymoon and travel expenses, your wedding come closer to $25,000.

The average number of guests at a destination wedding was 86. And surprisingly, only 30% of destination wedding occurred outside the United States.

How can you figure out what your destination wedding will cost?

In order to do that, you will have to estimate the number of guests that will attend the wedding. Let’s assume that 50% of the guests you invite will actually make it. Take that number and multiply by either of the following:

Expected guests ________ X $225 (cost per guest in the continental US) = ________________

Expected guests X $400 (cost per guest for an international wedding) = ________________

This number above should be what your budget is based on and what you can expect to spend.

Wow! I thought destination weddings were cheaper than that

If that is what you’re thinking, then we’re not surprised. The average per person cost for a traditional wedding is only $137. On a per person basis, a destination wedding can seem expensive.

But why is a destination wedding so much more per person?

Attending a destination wedding is an expensive venture most guests so couples tend to want to spend more per person than they would at a traditional wedding. Consider these additional expenses that you incur by having a destination wedding instead of a traditional one:

  • Airfare – This is an additional cost and usually ends up being a few thousand since many couples pay for themselves, their parents and in some cases, their entire bridal party
  • Accommodations – Paying for hotel rooms for yourself and your bridal party is an additional expense that you would not incur at a traditional wedding (Around 40% of the couples planning a destination wedding will pay for other people besides themselves). If you need to get hotel rooms, consider getting group rates online.
  • Meals – Instead of having one big meal, you will have guests for an average of three days or more. In many cases, couples end up paying for additional breakfasts, and lunches for all the guests
  • Gifts – The average destination wedding guest will spend over $1000 per person. Many couples feel obligated to give extraordinary wedding gift bags as a thank you for attending. This is another additional expense.
  • Shipping – Shipping your favors, centerpieces, gowns, and other items can be very expensive, especially if you are getting married overseas.
  • Transportation – At a destination wedding, you may have to provide transportation for all guests to the ceremony and to the reception. In addition, if your hotel does not offer, it, you may have to spring for transportation to the airport as well.
  • Guest activities – 17% of all couples offer to pay for all or a portion of a group activity at a destination wedding.
  • Party Back Home – 30% of the couples have a party back home for the people that could not make it the destination wedding.

All the costs above are in addition the standard expenses that are normally associated with weddings (dress, rings, officiant, venue, ceremony etc).

And while the cost per person is higher for a destination wedding, remember that fewer people will attend so your overall cost for the event will be lower than a traditional wedding.

That’s a lot of higher than I was expecting. Is there a way to lower the total cost?

Of course there is.

The easiest way to lower the cost of a destination wedding is to book one at an all inclusive resort. A decade or so ago, a wedding at an all inclusive resort would have been considered a terrible choice since many resorts were not designed with weddings in mind. That, however, has changed.

Nowadays, resorts like Dreams, and Sandals offer spectacular destination wedding packages that include a ton of extras at a minimal cost. For example, the beautiful beginnings wedding package at Sandals will cost you $10,000 for about 50 guests. The package(*) includes:

  • Orchid Boutonniere
  • Table with White Linen and Centerpiece
  • White Fondant Cake
  • Personal pre wedding Planner and resort wedding planner
  • Preparation of marriage documents
  • Pre-recorded music
  • Sparkling wine & chilled hors d’oeuvres cocktail reception for bride, groom
  • Wedding gift from Sandals Resorts
  • Personal Wedding Website
  • Sandals Wedding and Honeymoon Gift Registry
  • Honeymoon dinner for bride and groom
  • Complimentary bottle of sparkling wine
  • Photo package
  • Decorated honeymoon room
  • Mimosa breakfast-in-bed any morning of your choice

*The package above requires you to stay at least 6 nights at the resort

As you can see, the package above offers a lot of value when you take into account the location and the setting of the wedding.

While it may seem high, a destination wedding will actually be a lot cheaper in terms of cost because fewer people will attend one. So while the cost per person may be high, only your closest of friends and family members will make the effort and the expense to fly thousands of miles to see you wed.

What to do next?

Take a look at some great destination wedding locations.

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