Is a Destination Wedding Worth the Cost and Effort?

14 Jun 2024·0 min read

19% of couples picked a destination wedding in 2021, The Knot survey shows. This number is close to 2019, a non-COVID year, and it’s expected to grow in 2022 due to fewer travel limits. The idea of saying “I do” in a beautiful place like the mountains, a lively beach, or an ancient castle is a dream for many. But, planning one means thinking about the good and bad. Couples need to consider costs, how to get there, who can make it, and any risks. These thoughts help them decide if a destination wedding is the best pick for their big day.

Key Takeaways

  • Destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular, with 19% of couples choosing this option in 2021.
  • Planning a destination wedding requires careful consideration of costs, logistics, guest attendance, and potential risks.
  • Couples must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a destination wedding to determine if it’s the right choice for their special day.
  • Destination weddings offer the opportunity to get married in a dream location, but also require additional planning and coordination.
  • The average cost of a destination wedding is $32,700, or $38,700 including the engagement ring, compared to $34,000 for a traditional wedding.

What is a Destination Wedding?

A destination wedding is a ceremony away from home. It needs travel for the wedding party and guests. Last year, 19% of couples chose this, a number almost the same as in 2019, the year before COVID. More couples are likely to choose this in 2022, hoping travel becomes easier.

Definition and Key Takeaways

A destination wedding happens elsewhere, not the couple’s hometown. It could cost less if the guest list is small or the reception isn’t big. To save on travel costs, use credit card points or miles. Yet, planning carefully is crucial. Weather changes and travel rules could impact the wedding.

Rising Popularity of Destination Weddings

Destination weddings are getting more popular. In 2021, 19% of couples picked this, close to the level in 2019 before COVID. With easier travel in 2022, more are expected to choose this option.

Pros of Destination Weddings

Planning a destination wedding comes with big benefits. You can say your vows in a dream location. Also, you get to invite a smaller circle of friends and family. This might help you save money on wedding costs.

Getting Married in a Dream Location

Couples get to pick a place that’s really special to them. It could be a beach in the Caribbean or somewhere near the Eiffel Tower. These places make your wedding unforgettable and give you amazing photos. So, you can marry in your dream location and have a unique and beautiful celebration.

Planning a Smaller, More Intimate Guest List

Destination weddings usually have smaller guest lists. Not everyone can make it to a faraway location. This means you can focus on those closest to you. It makes for a very intimate guest experience at your wedding.

Potentially Saving Money on Wedding Costs

Believe it or not, destination weddings can be less pricey than traditional ones. How? By using all-inclusive resort packages, or finding local vendors with lower costs. Also, you may not need to spend much on decorations thanks to the beautiful locations. These savings make getting married in a dream location more doable for many couples.

Cons of Destination Weddings

Destination weddings are attractive, but they might not suit every couple. A major issue is the extra planning needed. Also, there’s a chance that fewer guests will show up, and you can’t control unforeseen events.

Increased Planning and Coordination Required

Planning in a new place means dealing with new issues. This includes money exchange, language barriers, and local laws. To pull off a great wedding, couples need to tackle these challenges head-on.

Reduced Guest Attendance

Not everyone you invite will be able to make it. They might face money or distance issues. As a result, your wedding might have fewer people than you hoped for. Reduced guest attendance is a big worry for those eyeing destination weddings.

No Guarantees Against Unforeseen Circumstances

Destination weddings come with their fair share of risks. Think natural disasters, flight bans, or sudden surprises. This means couples might want extra insurance to safeguard their plans.

Cost Comparison: Destination vs. Traditional Weddings

Average Costs of Destination Weddings

In 2021, couples spent around $28,000 on their weddings, or $34,000 with the engagement ring. In 2019, the cost was the same. However, 2020 saw a drop to $19,000 due to the pandemic affecting plans. A destination wedding cost an average of $32,700, or $38,700 if you add the engagement ring.

Average Costs of Traditional Weddings

Looking into traditional weddings, they can range from $10,000 to $50,000. Their average price is $33,900, which might give the impression of being cheaper. Yet, with good planning, destination weddings can save you money.

Factors Affecting Cost Savings

If you pick an all-inclusive spot for your wedding, reception, and honeymoon, you cut down on multiple bookings. This option can be cheaper. Choosing a location with a strong dollar value or lower living cost also helps. Additionally, using travel rewards can make a difference.

Metric Destination Wedding Traditional Wedding
Average Cost $32,700 ($38,700 with engagement ring) $33,900
Guest List Reduced by 1/3 Typically larger
Venue Costs Beach weddings only require a permit, reducing venue costs Over 1/3 of the budget spent on venue
Travel Costs $1,000 for airfare, $2,400 for accommodations No travel costs for local guests
Catering Costs All-inclusive packages can reduce costs $85 per person on average
Other Expenses $500-$800 for 100 paper goods $2,800 for flowers and decor, $1,600 for wedding dress, $1,700 for DJ, $4,300 for band

Destination weddings might seem more expensive. Yet, with smart planning, using travel rewards, and local resources, significant savings are possible.

Is Destination Wedding Worth It

Deciding on a destination wedding should start with what you value. This includes your dream spot for saying “I do” and the challenges of planning overseas. You’ll also need to weigh how many guests you’d like to share your day with against some may not make it. Finally, factor in costs and the extra time for planning this special event.

Evaluating Your Priorities and Budget

Think beyond just your dream location. Consider how easy it will be for your loved ones to share in your joy. By setting clear desires and budget limits, you’ll see if a destination wedding fits your vision.

Considering Guest Expectations and Ability to Attend

A destination wedding means lots of travel and cost for guests. Make sure your loved ones understand this. It’s important to be okay if some can’t come due to the distance and expenses.

destination wedding priorities

Destination Wedding Locations

Planning a destination wedding offers many options. Couples can choose popular beach spots, places rich in history and culture, or beautiful outdoor venues. The Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii are favorites for beach destination weddings. They boast stunning ocean views and chances to enjoy water activities during the celebration.

For those preferring historic and cultural wedding destinations, Europe or Asia can be ideal. Locations like Europe’s ancient castles or Asia’s bustling cities provide a special touch for the big day. They come with deep history, impressive architecture, and culture that can be a part of the wedding plans.

Scenic and outdoor wedding venues are perfect for those who love nature. Places like the Colorado mountains or Napa Valley’s vineyards offer unmatched natural beauty for the ceremony and reception. These venues let couples and guests enjoy the splendor of the outdoors.

Planning a Destination Wedding

Planning a destination wedding successfully involves thinking through many key points. The very first thing to do is make a budget. This should cover everything from flights and hotels for you and guests to the wedding’s location, food, and other costs.

After that, picking the right destination is crucial. Consider the weather, how easy it is to get there, and the cost of living. Make sure the spot matches your dream and can be easily reached by both you and your guests. Destination weddings can be on a sunny beach or in a charming European city, so do your homework.

When it comes to the bill, it’s smart to use travel rewards and points. Sign up for a good credit card that offers travel rewards. This can cut down on flight and hotel costs. Don’t forget about travel and wedding insurance either. It can help cover the cost if something unplanned happens.

Expense Average Cost
Destination Wedding (excluding travel) Less than $5,000
Destination Wedding (including engagement ring) $38,700
Traditional Wedding $28,000
Wedding Insurance $155 to $550
Travel Insurance (1 week international) Approximately $95

Thinking about these points helps make your destination wedding go smoothly. Consider them well to have an event that fits your vision and budget.

Destination Wedding Packages and Vendors

Planning a destination wedding opens up a world of packages. It also allows for working closely with local vendors. This makes the celebration personal and budget-friendly. Many resorts and destinations have all-inclusive wedding packages. These packages make planning easier and save a lot of money.

All-Inclusive Resort Packages

These packages cover everything from the venue to catering, decor, and even a place to stay for the couple and their guests. They make the whole wedding experience simpler. Bundling services together often means discounts. It also means most of the wedding hassle is taken care of by the resort.

Local Vendors and Suppliers

Couples can also choose to work with local vendors and suppliers. This is for a destination wedding. It offers a chance for more unique and local elements. This could be traditional music, local food, or special decor. Using these local experts adds something special to the wedding.

Destination Wedding Planners

Looking for extra help with a destination wedding? Hiring a destination wedding planner can be a great move. These planners know the local scene well. They have lots of industry connections. Plus, they’re pros at handling the challenges of a wedding far from home. With a planner, couples can enjoy a smooth and worry-free wedding.

Legal Requirements for Destination Weddings

Couples who want a destination wedding need to know about the legal stuff. They must figure out how to get a marriage license. Rules for this can be different depending on where they choose to marry. Some places might need blood tests or require them to stay for a while before the wedding.

Marriage License and Documentation

The rules for tying the knot in another place can change a lot. Couples should look into what they need to bring, like their passport and birth certificates. If they’ve been married before, they might need those papers too. And, in some spots, these documents have to be translated into the local tongue.

Country-Specific Laws and Regulations

Every land has its own marriage laws. These rules affect if the wedding is legal where it happens and at home. For instance, getting married might need a local to oversee the ceremony or demand there be witnesses.

Couples should do their homework and maybe talk to a legal pro. This makes sure their big day follows all the rules for legal requirements for destination weddings.

Destination Wedding Etiquette

Hosting a destination wedding means being extra careful of the way you do things. This is because your guests will have to make a big effort to join you. Because it usually means a lot of traveling and spending money, couples need to clearly tell guests what they should expect.

Managing Guest Expectations

Couples must give out lots of travel information. They should share where to stay, how to get around, and what to do at the place. Being thoughtful is key; they might offer to help with kids or help guests with special needs. This way, everyone can have a good time at the wedding.

Providing Travel Information and Assistance

Being clear and offering lots of travel information makes guests feel welcomed and ready. This makes the destination wedding even more enjoyable for everyone. So, it’s important for couples to really look after their guests.

Budgeting for a Destination Wedding

Budgeting for a destination wedding means thinking about the travel and stay costs, as well as the venue and vendor expenses. Costs for travel and stays depend on the destination, number of guests, and the wanted luxury level. Also, think about the venue, food, photos, and other services, which can be affected by local prices and currency changes.

Estimating Travel and Accommodation Costs

For a destination wedding, guests spend around $673 per person, a bit less than a regular wedding at $703. An international destination wedding racks up to $27,227 for each guest, especially with a smaller guest list. If you’re eyeing New York in the US, get ready for nearly $71,000 average cost.

Venue and Vendor Expenses

Venue costs for destination weddings can change between peak and off seasons. Costs for catering per person are normally costlier in big cities than in smaller ones for destination weddings. Also, rates for bars and photographers can shift depending on the spot of the destination wedding. Think about important vendors in the budget like the wedding planner, venue fees, invitation printing, drinks, cake, music, flowers, decorations, lights, photos, outfits, and beauty.

Potential Cost-Saving Strategies

To pull down the cost of a destination wedding, couples might use travel points, book during cheaper seasons, or choose all-inclusive resorts. With a smaller guest group, the cost can drop significantly versus local weddings. This leaves more room for extra special touches and travel.

Metric Average Cost
Traditional Wedding Up to $35,000
Destination Wedding (Group of 40-50 people) Less than $10,000
Domestic Destination Wedding (including travel costs for a couple) $28,372
International Destination Wedding (per guest) $27,227
Local Weddings (recent years) Up to $32,641

Unique Destination Wedding Ideas

Destination weddings let couples make their big day unique and memorable. They can go for a themed wedding like a tropical beach party or a rustic mountain vibe. Another cool option is to embrace the local traditions and customs. That means using local music, dance, food, and decorations in the celebration.

For those who love adventure, destination weddings offer a chance to have fun outdoors. You could enjoy hiking, kayaking, or exploring nature in your wedding area. This way, your wedding becomes special through the beauty and activities of the place you choose.

Challenges of Destination Weddings

Destination weddings have their perks, but they also present unique hurdles. Couples must tackle issues like travel rules and getting the right documents. They also need to make sure their guests find it easy to get to the wedding spot.

Travel Logistics and Restrictions

Planning a destination wedding means working out travel details for everyone. This includes getting passports and visas. Also, making sure guests find it easy to get to the destination wedding is key for a smooth event.

Language and Cultural Barriers

In foreign settings, language and cultural differences can make things tricky. It might be hard to talk to vendors or handle paperwork. Making guests comfortable and informed is also a top concern.

Unpredictable Weather and Natural Disasters

The weather and natural disasters are risks with destination weddings. Couples should have fallback plans for bad weather or sudden events. Getting wedding insurance and travel insurance can lower these risks.

destination wedding challenges

Destination Wedding Trends

Destination weddings are getting more popular, and new trends are becoming big. One trend is the love for destination weddings that are kind to the Earth. Couples look for places and people that care about the environment. They want to lower the impact of their wedding on the planet. They also choose to have smaller, micro-weddings and elopements destination weddings. These are more private, with only a few guests.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how people see weddings. Now we have virtual and hybrid destination weddings. These use technology to have guests join from far away. This way, everyone can be part of the celebration.

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Weddings

Many couples are picking eco-friendly destination weddings. They choose places and things that are good for the Earth. This means using decorations and food that do no harm. They also support local businesses. This makes their weddings Earth-friendly and loving towards communities.

Micro-Weddings and Elopements

More and more couples are going for micro-weddings and elopements destination weddings. They invite only a few family and friends. This makes the wedding more personal and costs less. It’s still a memorable destination wedding but with a smaller guest list.

Virtual and Hybrid Celebrations

Because of COVID-19, virtual and hybrid destination weddings have become popular. This way, people from all over can take part. Couples use technology to feel close to those who can’t be there. It makes the wedding day even more special for everyone involved.


Destination weddings let couples say ‘I do’ in a dream spot with their dearest. They need more planning but can save money. They also make the guest list more intimate. By thinking about what’s most important to them and their budget, couples can decide if a destination wedding fits their needs. With proper planning, these weddings can be a fantastic experience for everyone involved.

Making the choice for a destination wedding means looking at the good and the bad. There’re chances to save money, but also some hard decisions to make. Consider where you want to say your vows, the costs, and if guests can make it. Doing your homework and understanding what you’re getting into is key to a successful wedding away from home.

Choosing a destination wedding is all about what the couple wants. It’s for those who dream of a wedding in a stunning far-off place or a close-knit, relaxed celebration. With a clear plan and a positive attitude, couples can make their dream wedding come true. Whether grand or intimate, a destination wedding can be truly memorable for everyone.


What is a destination wedding?

A destination wedding happens away from the couple’s hometown. It usually means travel for the wedding party and guests. It takes place in a different location than the couple’s hometown. This way, a dream place can be chosen for the wedding. Weddings in such locations could cost less than traditional hometown weddings. This is if there are fewer people or a smaller space needed. Saving money on travel is also possible by using credit card rewards. But, planning is key. Things like weather changes or travel restrictions may affect the ceremony.

How popular are destination weddings?

Destination weddings are becoming more popular. In 2021, 19% of couples chose this option. This number was almost the same than in 2019, which was a pre-COVID year. More couples are expected to choose this in 2022 with fewer travel restrictions.

What are the pros of having a destination wedding?

Destination weddings have several advantages. They let couples marry in a dream place. They make it possible to keep the guest list small and intimate. This can also save money on wedding costs. Couples can choose stunning places as their wedding site. For example, the Caribbean or somewhere near the Eiffel Tower. Having fewer guests means focusing on closer relationships. Planning wisely can also lower expenses. All-inclusive resort packages are a good option. So are local vendors with lower prices and using the location’s natural beauty for decorations.

What are the cons of having a destination wedding?

There are challenges with destination weddings too. They need more planning and coordination. Guests might not be able to attend due to travel or financial issues. This can make the wedding party smaller than hoped for. Each location has its laws and customs for weddings. This might be hard to handle from far away. Also, unexpected events like natural disasters or travel restrictions can disturb plans. This is why getting the right insurance is important to protect against these risks.

How do the costs of a destination wedding compare to a traditional wedding?

An average traditional wedding in 2021 cost about ,000. This includes the engagement ring. For destination weddings, the cost was about ,700 without the engagement ring. At first, traditional weddings may seem cheaper. But with the right plan, a destination wedding can be more cost-effective. Using all-inclusive resort packages, choosing places with favorable exchange rates, and earning travel points can save on costs. Offsetting expenses this way makes the dream wedding more affordable.

Is a destination wedding worth the cost and effort?

Deciding on a destination wedding involves understanding its demands. Couples need to think about their dreams, budget, and guests’ needs. The dream of a special place versus coordination challenges is critical. They also need to balance the desire for an intimate affair with the risk of fewer attendees. Planning needs hard work but it can save money. It ensures the celebration is enjoyed by those closest to the couple.

What are some popular destination wedding locations?

For a destination wedding, there are many amazing options. Beaches in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii are top choices. They offer stunning seaside settings and fun activities. Europe’s ancient castles and vibrant Asian cities are also favorites. They make for a unique cultural setting. Scenic areas like Colorado’s mountains or Napa Valley’s vineyards provide beautiful outdoor wedding spots.

How do you plan a successful destination wedding?

To plan a great destination wedding, start with a realistic budget. Choose the right place. Use travel rewards and consider insurance. Setting a budget to cover all wedding costs is essential. This includes travel for everyone, venues, food, photos, and more. The destination should match the couple’s vision and be easy for guests to reach. Using travel rewards can make flying and staying cheaper. Insurance is crucial to guard against unforeseen issues.

What options do couples have for destination wedding packages and vendors?

All-inclusive wedding packages and local vendors are available for destination weddings. The packages include everything needed for the wedding. This can simplify planning. Local vendors can add unique, local elements to the wedding. For extra help, a local wedding planner can be very useful. They know the area well and can take care of details.

What legal requirements do couples need to consider for a destination wedding?

Couples must be aware of the legal rules to get married in another place. This includes needing a marriage license. Different countries or states might have special rules. These rules could mean tests, waiting periods, or legal witnesses. Each place also has its own marriage laws. Couples must research these to make sure their wedding is official.

What etiquette should couples consider for a destination wedding?

Destination weddings require extra consideration for guests. They should understand some may not be able to come due to cost or time. Providing plenty of travel info can make guests feel more at ease with the destination. Thinking about guests’ needs, like childcare or special accommodations, shows care for their comfort.

How do you budget for a destination wedding?

Planning the budget for a destination wedding involves many costs. Travel and stays, venue rentals, catering, and local services must be considered. Costs vary depending on the destination and the number of guests. To save money, look into using rewards, booking off-season, and choosing all-inclusive deals.

What unique ideas can couples incorporate into a destination wedding?

Destination weddings allow for truly special celebrations. Themes like a beach party, a mountain retreat, or a city event can make it unique. Embracing the local culture with food, music, or customs adds a special touch. Outdoor activities like hiking or exploring the area’s natural beauty can be part of the big day too.

What are the main challenges of planning a destination wedding?

Destination weddings have their own set of difficulties. Travel arrangements, like documents and flights, can be hard. Language and cultural differences may create complications. Bad weather or natural disasters can also cause problems. It’s important to have a backup plan and the right insurance.

What destination wedding trends are emerging?

The trends in destination weddings are changing. More couples are looking for eco-friendly options. This means choosing places and vendors that are green. Smaller weddings with just a few loved ones are also becoming more popular. The use of technology for virtual or hybrid ceremonies is growing as well.