Destination Wedding Budget – The Basics

The day on the beach when Jay became Mrs Bell!Getting engaged is an exciting time for every couple.

From the moment the ring is placed on the finger, the countdown to the actual wedding begins as does the pressure to get everything done.

In trying to manage personal finances, jobs, families, and a social life, it can be easy to forget to plan a budget for your destination wedding.

Why Do You Need A Destination Wedding Budget?

The practice of budgeting your wedding expenses will make you more disciplined right from the start so you know what you can afford.

Can you afford that arch?

Let’s assume that you are looking to have an all inclusive wedding package with some extras to make the wedding your own. Without a budget, how would you know how much can be spent on the extras? Can you add an arch to the beach wedding you are planning?

If you had a wedding budget, the answers to the above questions would be instantaneous.

Schedule Payments

Every wedding vendor you encounter will have a different payment plan that you will have to adhere to. For example, a florist may not need a deposit but the hotel where you are blocking hotel rooms may need one.

So how do you keep organized about who should be paid when? If you have a wedding budget, you will always know who you owe what to and when it’s due.

A Budget Forces You To Research

Do you know what the cost of a destination wedding is in Jamaica? More than likely, you haven’t the faintest idea.

However, the moment you start to do a wedding budget, you will start to research vendors, make phone calls, and get group quotes from hotels and resorts. Doing this will answer many questions of what you can afford and what is out of reach right from the start.

Avoid Putting Wedding Expenses On Credit Card

By not creating a financial plan, most couples open themselves up to running out of money well ahead of the wedding itself. Not only will this create a panic, it will also lead to more desperate measures such as increased credit card debt.

And a large credit card bill is the last thing you want to come home to from your honeymoon.

Ok, so you get why a wedding budget is important. But how far ahead should you plan one?

When to start budgeting for a wedding?

We would recommend that you creating a budget for a destination wedding as soon as you get engaged (hopefully, you have a year). Getting an early start will yield tremendous benefits in terms of getting vendors, and being better prepared financially.

All inclusive weddings are the only exception because they require far less planning (and budgeting) than a wedding where you are paying for everything a la carte.

As a general rule, the more elaborate the wedding, the more time you will need to budget for it.

Now that you know when to start budgeting for your destination wedding, let’s talk about the types of expenses you can expect when planning a destination wedding.

Expense categories for a destination wedding

Once you have figured out how much you can spend on your destination wedding, it’s time to separate the expenses into three categories listed below.

Wedding Expenses

The ring, dress, tuxedo, bridal party expenses, hotel room, ceremony, reception, photographer, florist, baker and other various wedding related expenses go into this category. This category will make up the largest expense out of all four.

Travel Expenses

Plane tickets, transfers, transportation, and any hotel stays in between should be included in this category.

Guest Related Expenses

Guest transportation (airport shuttle, guest transportation to the ceremony/reception), group activities (Zip lining, spa, skiing, scuba diving, horseback riding), wedding favors, entertainment and any kind of room subsidy should be accounted for in this category.

Honeymoon Expenses

All honeymoon related expenses including rooms, flights, shopping, and gifts for each other should be budgeted for in this category.

For a complete list of expenses, take a look at our free destination wedding budget template.

Now that you know the categories, it’s time to look at what you can expect to spend.

How much do you need to budget to pull off a destination wedding?

The cost of a destination wedding varies widely depending on location and the type of wedding you are having. Locations that are easier to access (Jamaica, Las Vegas, Bahamas) tend to be cheaper due to more competition, and less exclusivity.

In addition, an all inclusive resort wedding will make the cost of a wedding even lower because guests will, in effect, be paying for their own lodging, food, and liquor.

As a rough estimate, an all inclusive wedding for 50 people will cost you around $5,000-$7,000 (not including your honeymoon costs), depending on location. And an a la carte destination wedding will run you around $100 per person without liquor.

Any advice?

Budgeting for a destination wedding can be a big eye opener in terms of cost (the average destination wedding will cost around $25,000). If you begin to realize that expenses are well north of what you expected, then consider getting married at an all inclusive resort.

For example, Sandals resort offers a very respectable free wedding package if you stay at least six nights at the resort. Guests can opt to stay at the resort with you and in doing so will pay for their own food, liquor, entertainment and activities. Here is a list of all inclusive resorts that offer wedding packages.

The above questions should give you a good idea of the basics of budgeting. If you feel that you are ready to get started, read How To Create A Destination Wedding Budget.

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