You’ve undoubtedly looked over several wedding budget checklists but have you seen any that are specific to a destination wedding? While it’s true that most of your wedding expenses will be the same whether you’re in your hometown or halfway around the world there are some expenses that are pretty much uniquely destination wedding expenses so let’s take a look at them.
- Your Site Visit: The first thing that comes to mind is your site visit. We decided fairly last minute that we were having a destination wedding so unfortunately we didn’t have any time for a site visit but if you can plan your wedding out several months then it’s a great idea to go visit your wedding site location. If you were getting married locally you wouldn’t dream of booking a place without first seeing it so it’s great when you can do the same at your destination wedding site.
- Travel Expenses: Next, we have your actual travel expenses. This could be airfare, your room, car rental and/or airport transfer, meals, entertainment, and tip money. Depending on your situation you might even have a pet boarding expense and maybe you have to pay for airport parking. You could even see expenses such as additional cell phone charges and internet access. For those who are going to be honeymooning at their wedding location (referred to as a “weddingmoon” the extra expenses would be for extra time at the location and extra per day costs such as food and drinks, as well as, any of the other per day items I’ve mentioned. We are traveling with our five children so their travel costs are definitely an extra expense for us (over what we would’ve paid for a honeymoon) but we feel it’s totally worth it.
- Passports and Travel Related Documents: If you’re traveling outside the country you will also need to take care of your passport and travel-related documents if you don’t already have these. Now if you were going to be traveling for your honeymoon you might have needed this regardless but I thought I’d mention them.
- Save the Dates: When having a destination wedding you will want to give your guests a little more time to prepare than you would with a wedding so you’ll want to consider sending out some “Save the Date” cards. We were very short on time so we opted to send out an email version of a “Save the Date” and you can see them here.
- Friends and Family: Since you are asking the most important people in your life to join you away from home there might be some friends or family members who simply can’t afford to join you. You will need to decide if you want to find room in your budget to assist anyone with their travel expenses.
- Wedding Vendors: Depending on where you are getting married and depending on the vendors who are available at your venue you might be interested in flying in one or more of your vendors. We decided to bring our own photographer with us to Mexico as this is what will work best for us and our family. If you do hire any vendors who don’t live in your destination, you’ll most likely be expected to pay their airfare and accommodations and possibly for their local travel expenses and per diem. For instance, if we invite our photographer along with us to the ruins we will of course pay her expenses to travel there, her admission, and any food or drinks she has while we are there.
- Group Activities Excursions: While you have everyone together at your destination you will most likely end up hosting some activities and/or outings for your guests. This could be an excursion to a local place or possibly a welcome dinner and/or departure brunch. When you organize this type of event it is customary for you to pick up the expenses for your guests.
- Out-of-Town Guest Bags/Gift Items: It’s a great idea to present all of your guests with out-of-town guest bags with some goodies for their stay at your destination wedding. I’ve seen everything from a welcome letter, sunscreen, personalized items, bug spray, tissues, hand sanitizer, novelty post-its and pens, and other items that are useful and/or a great reminder of the trip.
- Shipping and/or Additional Baggage Fees: Many brides will want to bring some items from home to decorate for their ceremony and reception. Depending on where you are going and what’s available you might end up shipping some items and/or packing them to bring with you. Keep any custom fees in mind when calculating any shipping.
- Subsidizing Expenses: I already mentioned the possibility of helping some people out with their travel expenses but you might also consider helping out your wedding party with some or all of their wedding expenses. This might be along the lines of their attire, jewelry, hair and makeup, etc. I understand this is traditionally their responsibility but since you are asking them to pay for their travel expenses to join you it’s something you might consider.
- Marriage Expenses: You’ll also want to find out about any expenses or costs related to getting married at your destination i.e. blood tests, marriage license, etc. If you’re planning on getting hitched before or after your trip you’ll still have an expense for doing that locally too so you’ll want to check on that.
I hope this has been helpful to you in planning out your destination wedding budget. Is there something I’ve missed? Do you have something else on your budget that you can share with all of us? We’d love to hear your questions and comments below in the comments section so we can all learn from each other!