Destination Weddings Discussions

Is there such thing as affordable DW?

Hello!

Fi and I are in the very early stages of planning our DW. We know we would like it next Jan/Feb 2018. Anywhere in the Caribbean, Costa Rica or Belize. We are shying away from Mexico and Dominican Republic because we've already been there. We initially wanted an All-Inclusive because we thought the actual reception might be "cheaper" since guests are already paying for meals/drinks in their all inclusive plan. I realize we would be paying for the private area for the reception and the waitstaff, plated options, etc. But, I still can't believe the pricing to be $50-100 pp for 1-2 hours open bar and a meal. That's more expensive than it would be back home (in Minnesota). We need help/advice on how to cut costs. We are super laid back and don't care about "private" reception, semi private is just fine. We also were interested in BYOB/outside alcohol locations. We would save a ton if we could BYOB and let our guests drink for "free". I'm thinking some places might have a corkage fee, but that shouldn't be too bad. Does anyone know resorts or venues that offer this? I've found one in Cancun, but again, we would like a "new" never seen destination. Also, are resorts easily able to customize packages. I don't care about hair/makeup/pedi/"free" honeymoon. Is it bad to ask to sub or waive those offers? BTW-we predict between 50-100 guests. Our friends/family love to travel. Thanks SO much! E & D

Re: Is there such thing as affordable DW?

  • Hi KnottieJanel-Great question! The guest list back home would be 230. 
  • Semi private reception? meaning you just make a large reservation for food/drinks your guests have already paid for?
    No idea how you could BYOB  unless you have the reception at another restaurant but even then, how would that work? you would have to have more than just a taxi to drive and buy all the alcohol.

    I think you need to cut your guest list for either the DW or the one in Minnesota.


  • Maybe this is a little snarky, but I'd be pretty annoyed if H and I used our vacation time, and savings, for a close friend/family member's destination wedding, then once we were there realized the "reception" was actually a private party with guests, it was just a semi-private dinner that we were already paying for with our resort stay. 
    InLoveInQueenssparklepants41ei34
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Maybe this is a little snarky, but I'd be pretty annoyed if H and I used our vacation time, and savings, for a close friend/family member's destination wedding, then once we were there realized the "reception" was actually a private party with guests, it was just a semi-private dinner that we were already paying for with our resort stay. 
    I went to a DW like this once too. My wedding meal was one that I had already paid for at the AI resort, in a semi-private gazebo. 

    I don't get this idea that a DW is a cheaper option. It's not. You're just putting the cost on your guests. As much as people may love to travel, you're basically dictating to them a vacation that they pay for and use vacation time for. 
    Why do people even think it would be cheaper?   Especially somewhere in the Caribbean?  The islands are expensive.  The locals pay $8+ for just a gallon of milk so food at a resort is just naturally more expensive for a couple, let alone 50-100 people.  

    I also do not know of many places that would not agree to a semi-private party for that many people.   A lot of restaurants in the islands are small.  50 people is the whole place.   They might require a buy out. Which means you will have to pay close to what they would make on a normal night.   Even resorts often make groups of 20 or more be a banquet do to the work it requires to feed that many people at once.

    On another note BYOB places might be less expensive (if you can even find them), but it's a lot more work on your part.  You might have to get to the destination earlier. Which means longer hotel stays, meals, etc.  Could cut out much of your savings.

    Don't get me started on costs for guests.


    If you want an affordable DW invite just a few people.  Maybe just immediate family and your best friends.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    SP29cowgirl8238
  • I think I may worded things incorrectly here. I was just curious as to why pricing at an all inclusive resort was still $50-$100 per person for a plate of food,  and to see if anyone had any creative ideas or suggestions on how/where to cut costs. Thanks, everyone!
  • WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl The Cold North member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Our DW likely cost us more in Hawaii than it would have to stay home.  But it was affordable for us.  A good friend got married in Cuba for $5000 all in (including her flights and such).  She had 11 guests though, so had planned for a smaller wedding.  

    And yes, plan for 100% attendance.  One former Knottie had over 100 people fly to Hawaii for her wedding - 100% attendance from invites.  

    As for reports being more expensive, you're also paying for the staff in your private area, the rental of the area itself, tales, chairs, linens, set up and clean up, etc.  You're not paying only for the extra meal outside of the regular buffet and restaurants.  

    For saving cash, look at different resorts and different packages.  Figure out your budget and base your guest list off that.  Different resorts will have different levels of packages available for you to choose from

    SP29
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited February 2017
    DWs work best for people who have very small guest lists and not much family.  They are expensive for everyone, and often unpopular with guests and family members.   It doesn't sound like your situation is one that would be good for a destination wedding.
    No one is entitled to be invited to your wedding.  You simply invite whomever you want to invite.

    Here is Wedding Planning 101:

    1.  Make up your budget.  Do not count on any money unless it is in your bank account.  Your budget is the most important item in your wedding plans.

    2.  Make up your ideal guest list.  Now you can start making cuts until you have a list that is practical and reasonable.  If you are on a tight budget, 230 people is NOT reasonable!

    3.  If you are Catholic, talk to your priest immediately to find out what restrictions you will have.

    4.  NOW you can start thinking about your location and venue.  Any plans you make must fit #1 and #2.  Otherwise, forget it, and move on to other venues.  Remember, you plan the wedding that you can afford.  There are many ways to cut costs in a local wedding, but not for a destination wedding, especially in a foreign country.

    I do not think that a destination wedding is practical for your situation.  I think you should plan a reasonable wedding in Minnesota, and have a wonderful honeymoon in the Caribbean.

    One lovely destination wedding was for a dear friend who had come as a refugee from Vietnam as a child.  Only two family members on her side, and the groom had only four.  Their wedding was in Hawaii, and was for immediate family only.  In a situation like hers, a destination wedding was a good idea.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited February 2017
    I do have one destination wedding option for you:  a cruise ship wedding.  You are married while the cruise ship is docked in Florida, California, or NOLA.  Your guests are permitted to board the ship for your small ceremony, often in the ship's wedding chapel.  (Limited capacity) You have a short reception for your guests, and then they leave the ship while you sail away on your honeymoon, maybe to the Caribbean.
    This is not cheap, either, and your reception will not have dancing.  It must be a daytime ceremony because of sailing schedules.
    Again, this won't be popular with guests who have to fly to Florida and pay for their hotel.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited February 2017
    Our DW likely cost us more in Hawaii than it would have to stay home.  But it was affordable for us.  A good friend got married in Cuba for $5000 all in (including her flights and such).  She had 11 guests though, so had planned for a smaller wedding.  

    @WinstonsGirl, you do realize that US citizens cannot fly to Cuba?  Not yet, anyway.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl The Cold North member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    CMGragain said:
    Our DW likely cost us more in Hawaii than it would have to stay home.  But it was affordable for us.  A good friend got married in Cuba for $5000 all in (including her flights and such).  She had 11 guests though, so had planned for a smaller wedding.  

    @WinstonsGirl, you do realize that US citizens cannot fly to Cuba?  Not yet, anyway.
    Fair enough.  I thought they were relaxing that.  But I'm sure many other resorts offer cheaper packages too

  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    To answer your main question: No. There is no such thing as an inexpensive  DW. They are only inexpensive when you ask your guests to subsidise (AIs) or compromise  (not actually getting married), both of which are super rude. There are inexpensive elopements, where just you and your fi get married abroad. But as soon as you ask people to fly internationally, the word 'inexpensive ' goes out the window. 

    I'm with PP, I would be SUPER salty at being asked to take time off, buy a gift, new outfit, pay for flights, hotels, etc, and you can't even spend $50 on me, from the thousands I just spend on you?!

    As as to your other question of why it takes 50-100 to make a plate of food: go home, plate up a quality meal that you would like at your wedding, now think of the time/labour/Food travel miles involved to do that for 100 people at once on a Caribbean island. 

    For the the cost of flights to the Caribbean and hotels, you could have a lovely afternoon tea and cake wedding reception for 230 in your home town. 

    lyndausviSP29InLoveInQueenscowgirl8238
  • CMGragain said:
    Our DW likely cost us more in Hawaii than it would have to stay home.  But it was affordable for us.  A good friend got married in Cuba for $5000 all in (including her flights and such).  She had 11 guests though, so had planned for a smaller wedding.  

    @WinstonsGirl, you do realize that US citizens cannot fly to Cuba?  Not yet, anyway.
    We actually can now! Although I'm not sure it's a great destination wedding spot. 
    ahoyweddingernursejTheDeathLlama
  • My wedding is a good example of why DWs aren't a less expensive alternative.

    We eloped, so just the two of us, and had VERY minimal decor or extras. We hired a celebrant and a photographer, but no DJ, makeup artists, videographer or the like. The only flowers I had were a bouquet of fake flowers (real weren't allowed b/c it was a national park). I had zero decorations of any kind- just used the beach as a backdrop. The resort provided our meal as part of the package, which included dinner and 6 cupcakes. The dinner was no different than the other meals, but it was private. My dress was custom made by an acquaintance, but only cost $275 plus the material. My H bought a shirt and pants from Tommy Bahamas. Even with my minimalist approach, the wedding still cost us around $8000. That does not even include the travel it took to get us there. 

    Unless getting married at a courthouse, almost everything will cost you more when doing it abroad just because of the logistics. There are cases where you can get a "free" wedding package from a resort, but that requires a certain length of stay and booking a higher room category. Then, of course, they get you with extra add-ons if you want anything custom. 

     







    lyndausviSP29ernursejcowgirl8238
  • CMGragain said:
    Our DW likely cost us more in Hawaii than it would have to stay home.  But it was affordable for us.  A good friend got married in Cuba for $5000 all in (including her flights and such).  She had 11 guests though, so had planned for a smaller wedding.  

    @WinstonsGirl, you do realize that US citizens cannot fly to Cuba?  Not yet, anyway.
    We actually can now! Although I'm not sure it's a great destination wedding spot. 

    Not for any old reason (yet) though.  You have to have a specific reason to go, and I don't think DW makes the cut.

    https://www.aa.com/i18n/plan-travel/destinations/cuba.jsp?anchorLocation=DirectURL&title=cuba
    CMGragainInLoveInQueens
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    kaehlere said:
    I think I may worded things incorrectly here. I was just curious as to why pricing at an all inclusive resort was still $50-$100 per person for a plate of food,  and to see if anyone had any creative ideas or suggestions on how/where to cut costs. Thanks, everyone!
    I doubt you did. Having a wedding at an all-inclusive is a wedding invite with a specific price tag, which is not okay. Just because people did not solely comment on the thing you were curious about doesn't mean you misspoke.

    So AI is not a good "cost-saving" idea regardless of the actual cost to you. No, there's really no such thing as an affordable DW if properly hosted. Even if you BYO alcohol, you still have to buy alcohol in the islands, which is expensive.
    InLoveInQueensahoyweddingcowgirl8238
  • CMGragain said:
    Our DW likely cost us more in Hawaii than it would have to stay home.  But it was affordable for us.  A good friend got married in Cuba for $5000 all in (including her flights and such).  She had 11 guests though, so had planned for a smaller wedding.  

    @WinstonsGirl, you do realize that US citizens cannot fly to Cuba?  Not yet, anyway.
    We actually can now! Although I'm not sure it's a great destination wedding spot. 
    I know lots of people who have been married down there. It's lovely.
  • CMGragain said:
    Our DW likely cost us more in Hawaii than it would have to stay home.  But it was affordable for us.  A good friend got married in Cuba for $5000 all in (including her flights and such).  She had 11 guests though, so had planned for a smaller wedding.  

    @WinstonsGirl, you do realize that US citizens cannot fly to Cuba?  Not yet, anyway.
    We actually can now! Although I'm not sure it's a great destination wedding spot. 
    I know lots of people who have been married down there. It's lovely.
    I just meant because there are still travel restrictions for US citizen guests. You can fly there now, but I think it's s bit much to expect your guests to design a trip that meets the criteria. 
  • CMGragain said:
    Our DW likely cost us more in Hawaii than it would have to stay home.  But it was affordable for us.  A good friend got married in Cuba for $5000 all in (including her flights and such).  She had 11 guests though, so had planned for a smaller wedding.  

    @WinstonsGirl, you do realize that US citizens cannot fly to Cuba?  Not yet, anyway.
    We actually can now! Although I'm not sure it's a great destination wedding spot. 
    I know lots of people who have been married down there. It's lovely.
    I just meant because there are still travel restrictions for US citizen guests. You can fly there now, but I think it's s bit much to expect your guests to design a trip that meets the criteria. 
    Ahh, I forgot about that. 
  • Bluefin Bay is beautiful that time of year!  RedWing at the St. James too...  Wisconsin Dells at the Kalahari, Arrow wood Resort...  Sarasota, Florida at the Ringling Museum - you can have the feeling of the tropics without the overseas airfare and flights are cheap that time of year since it'll be getting close to Twin's Training Camp in Ft. Myers.  

    At the end of the day, have a DW because you have some special connection to being married there, not because you THINK you'll save money because ultimately, you don't and your guests absolutely don't.  As my BIL & SIL said about their DW in Jamaica, by the time was all said and done, they ended up paying MORE to get married there than they would have to have a similar "level" of wedding here in Minnesota in the MSP area (higher than out-state).  An all-inclusive doesn't mean that they aren't providing you with special services that come at a cost just as you expect to be paid for doing your job.  
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