It's exciting to plan a destination wedding, and hopefully, your friends and family are thrilled they get to go somewhere new, fun, and interesting to help celebrate your big day. But if you want everybody that you love to be able to actually attend your wedding, it's important to research the cost of travel to your destination, accommodations at your destination, and the general cost of food, beverages, and activities for them once they have arrived.
Some exotic destinations are just really expensive in general. The more remote and less commercialized the destination is, the pricier things are when you actually get there. It's not just the eating and drinking that's costly, there are a lot of other things wedding guests plan to buy at the destination. With airlines charging a fortune for checked luggage, more than one wedding guest will plan to purchase sunscreen, bug repellant, batteries, and other essentials once they arrive. Spending almost as much on sunblock as it would have cost them to check a bag causes serious sticker shock — and grumpy guests.
If you're getting married outside the United States and its territories, you have to consider the exchange rate and the value of the dollar wherever you're going. Once upon a time, you could get a lot more bang for your American buck in Canada, for example. That's simply not true anymore. Checking currency valuations for someplace you're unfamiliar with is a good idea before you choose to get married there.
When you choose a wedding destination that only has one venue and very limited accommodation options, it's important to check out their meal options ahead of time. If you're all staying in a pricey resort that's not within walking distance of shops and restaurants, your guests' only option is to pay hotel pricing for everything they consume — including each bottle of water they drink — or pony up the cost of a taxi to and from someplace they can buy supplies for their rooms. Frequently, they end up wasting as much money on transportation as they saved by not eating at the hotel.
The cost of airfare to your wedding destination must also be a consideration, even if you've found an amazingly cheap venue with great room rates for your guests. If everybody's on the East Coast, flights to Hawaii or exotic Pacific islands will break the bank for most guests. Not to mention suck up more than two solid days of travel to get there and back.
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.