Destination Weddings Discussions

HELP destination wedding

Hello everyone! 
I got engaged a year ago and after getting into a great program, my fiance and I decided to wait until we were finished with school. SO now that that time has come start thinking about thinks we are both really excited to have a destination wedding! But I'm so lost and overwhelmed with where to start! I'm sure that everyone feels this way so I'm wondering if any other brides out there could answer some questions for me, or direct me to a good destination wedding website? 
my questions are: where are the least expensive places? Would you suggest going through a travel agency? How can two college students keep their costs down? 
THANKS for all your help everyone! 

Re: HELP destination wedding

  • Jells2dot0Jells2dot0 Cowtown mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Unfortunately, The Knot's DW materials aren't that great. I've complained about it and hopefully one day they will fix things. 

    One thing I will mention is that a DW is really only less expensive than a traditional wedding when you keep the guest list small. Many costs are pushed off into the guests, so making sure you choose a place that works for you and your guests is key as well. Many people will probably decline a DW invitation, so be sure to check with your VIPs to see if they are on board. Otherwise, you may be better off having a more traditional wedding at a non-meal time with a cake and punch reception to ensure all of your key loved ones are there, you wont be as stressed planning from afar (DWs are NOT for control freaks!!!), and you have a little more leway to keep costs in check. 


  • Start with your budget. You can't do much else, at home or abroad, in terms of planning a wedding (or much else in life) if you don't know how much you have to spend. Certainly the smaller the guest list the further your money is going to go.

    If you're planning a DW check with your VIP's to make sure they're all on board. Because if they aren't you're going to have some soul searching to do. 

    Next, decide the things that are important to you (and your FI). For example, if you're not drinkers finding a wedding package with an open bar is useless to you and a waste of your money.

    We were married in Mexico last month. We always knew we wanted a tropical beach wedding above all else. We knew approximately where we wanted to plan this (The Riviera Maya). I spent A LOT of time on Google, TripAdvisor, BestDestinationWeddings, etc. pouring over different hotels, resorts, all-inclusives, etc., until I found a resort that their accommodations, price point for ourselves and our guests and wedding packages all felt right. Then we booked. I would recommend giving yourself enough time in the research department, otherwise I can imagine this process can go from fun to super stressful really quickly.

    We didn't use a travel agent. For us personally there wasn't enough benefit. I can't weigh in for anyone else.

    For the most part  I have to agree with Jells, DW's are not for control freaks. You have a lot of input of course, but if you want total control of every last detail a DW probably isn't right for you. My recent wedding was my second, I'm 38 (37 when we got engaged) and I really didn't have much desire to plan a wedding soup to nuts. I did that once when I was 23/24 and it was a wonderful experience but the idea of repeating the process didn't appeal. Instead we were able to spend more time planning the trip itself, excursions, etc. We were cool cucumbers the morning of - breakfast, massages, spent a few hours on the beach. Not stressing or futzing with final details. 

    Things that helped keep our budget down: we brought a lot of decorations from home instead of buying/renting from the resort. They will nickel and dime you to death on some really silly stuff. We went during a non-peak time of the year. It's a HUGE gamble but the savings were totally worth it to us, and we ended up with 85% great weather while we were there. There are lots of other things too. PM me for a giant list! 

    Happy planning!
  • WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl The Cold North member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Ditto PP's.  You have to be willing to go with the flow and have less choice in what you get.  My DW in Hawaii was about what I'd pay here.  My friend got married in Cuba for $6000, way less than what I paid.  I think AI's tend to be cheaper as they have the package already put together.  Her Husband's name was also wrong on their cake, but neither cared.  They thought it was funny.  

    I didn't use a website, just the local Hawaii board here.  I also didn't use a TA.  

  • I agree with the above, but for one thing. I had input on everything involving my wedding (though much of it I did leave up to the planner). But, we planned it off resort with a local wedding planner. 
    "There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness." -Friedrich Nietzsche, "On Reading and Writing"
  • I'm still planning my destination wedding. I agree with previous posters that step 1 is setting a budget. Step 2 is figuring out where you can afford to have a wedding and what your "must haves" are. For example, my fiance and I felt strongly that we wanted to be married on the beach. We also wanted a very small wedding. From there we picked a location that we both love (Hawaii) that would facilitate both must haves. And we contacted the individuals we really wanted at the wedding to check if they would be able to come. Realize that your dream location may be out of reach (especially since you state that you're both college students on a budget). Consider places closer to home or with lower costs overall. For example, I think we could have planned a beach wedding for less money in Mexico or California, both our own costs and the costs to our guests. 
  • One really great thing about a DW is that - ideally, anyway - the setting is such that you don't need to spend a lot in the way of decorations, flowers, that type of thing. I have a real admiration for brides who DIY centerpieces, floral arrangements and other decor but I personally can't imagine anything worse AND I'm even a relatively crafty person. I didn't want to have to worry about any of this, so selecting a place that was naturally beautiful and charming was worth every penny to me.

    I definitely echo PPs who mention that long-distance planning is not for control freaks. If you're getting married at a place that "does" weddings, though - resort, etc - this should not be that big of a deal. They will have a checklist and walk you through all the decisions that need to be made.

    We got married in Europe so we had to deal with things like time zones (tricky to plan around if you need to call, Skype with vendors etc) and wiring money for deposits, but these were small tradeoffs for the wedding we wanted to have.

    Keeping it small will save you some money...but remember you'll be paying for travel so depending on your destination it can end up evening out somewhat.

    We didn't use a travel agent. And I put my dress, shoes and marriage paperwork in my carry-on bag.
  • I'm still in the midst of planning my destination wedding (we're just over a year and a month away) we're using a travel agent but mostly that's for the ease of my family, a lot of them have NEVER been on any type of vacation let alone out of the country.

    I have found that the cost of airfare is cheapest to Mexico from the areas we are traveling from (midwest). I checked the dominican and jamaica but it just wasn't cost effective.
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