Photo: Cristiano Brizzi of Facibeni Fotografia
Want to have a destination wedding, but worrying about how much the whole trip is actually going to cost your guests? Good. That means you're a thoughtful bride and groom. Couples who decide to get married in remote destinations should be taking what the trip will cost your guests into consideration.
The good news is that most destination weddings don't have to cost your guests any more than it would cost them to travel to a wedding in any major city in the United States. Frequently, the weekend itself costs the guests less because brides and grooms are more inclined to host additional activities where everybody gets fed and watered, saving guests money on meals.
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In "guestimating" their guests' expenses, brides and grooms should consider the following:
Travel to/from the Destination
How much will average airfare cost your guests from most of the places they're coming from? For example, if almost everybody is on the East Coast, flights to the Caribbean are pretty reasonable, and almost everybody can book direct, at least as far as San Juan. If everybody is traveling from the East Coast to Hawaii, flights are ridiculously expensive and require multiple plane changes for most guests. If your wedding destination is on a remote island or distant mountaintop, your guests may also have to travel via small "puddle jumper" airplane or ferry to get to the final destination.
Thoughtful brides and grooms will offer guests a variety of price points for different accommodation options at their destination but, some wedding venues require the wedding couple to fill a specific number of rooms in order to host their wedding at the venue, locking your guests into higher nightly rates. Even more so if it's an all-inclusive resort. Guests should plan on paying for at least three nights for most weddings.
Travel at the Destination
Make sure you're providing your guests transportation to and from the wedding ceremony and reception and any other wedding-related activities that are not happening directly on site. In more remote destinations, rentals cars are a must — and can run as much as $90 a day during high season. Taxis can add up quickly if there's no public transportation available.
Meals and Entertainment
Although they'll be eating at many of your wedding festivities, guests will also be paying tourist prices for all of their other snacks and meals, including $10 for a pretzel at the airport. If your wedding guests are all staying at abig resort, they're likely be paying hotel prices for food, which can be high.
Don't totally disregard the number of vacation days your guests will have to take off of work to travel to and from the wedding destination. For some folks, that's a direct expense out of their monthly budget if they don't have the vacation time built up. If you choose a destination that requires two days of travel on each end, you may be asking too much.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.