Planning A Destination Wedding 101 – Part 1: Budget

I had my dream wedding on the beaches of Punta Cana to the love of my life on February 18 2017. It was the hardest thing I have ever done planning a wedding site unseen and I want to share all the wisdom I have obtained and mistakes I’ve made along the way. I feel like the most important aspect is budget. Without it you have no wedding! 

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I believe setting your budget and having a saving plan is the most important thing you can do for planning for a destination wedding. Or just a wedding in general. 

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  • First thing is first – you want to be is 100% honest with yourself. If you only make $40,000 a year don’t think you’ll be able to pull off throwing a $30,000 wedding in a year. If you’re budget is only $20,000 dont go buying a $5,000 dress. Honestly you will only wear that thing once, – twice if you wear for a rock the dress/trash the dress session.
  • Secondly sit down with both set of parents and your partner talk about what everyone is willing to contribute. You want to get a good look with what kind of money you’re working with. Will both sides contribute? Or are you and your fiancé on your own to pay for it? Is a set of parents willing to pay for a vender? It’s the best to work that out in the beginning so you know what price range you will be working with for venders. 

I know it can feel awkward to basically put your hand out for money from your parents and can make you feel like a kid but it’s better to find out ASAP. 

My rule of thumb is no financial decisions will be made by a set of parents if they do not pay for it. I.E no parent guests lists full of second cousins twice remove you never met. No 350 people guests lists that does not even include you and your other half. 

If you like many Americans now-a-days you’ll have to pay for your wedding yourself. My parents have been flakey about what they’re paying for-(but lots of demands!!) If a parent is being flaky about how much they’re willing to contribute when planning don’t count on it. Don’t be short on your wedding day paying venders because you thought Mom and Dad would help foot the bill. 

When we sat down and started planning our wedding it was stressful, but we managed. We compromised on what we wanted to pick something perfect for the both of us. Don’t let yourself be blinded by the allure of wedding planning. Take what your fiancé has to say in mind when making all the financial decisions. This is his wedding as much as yours. 

Once you have your budget of what is the max you want to spend then you can break up how you want to spend the money. 

 I broke our budget down by what I found most important and then delegated it that way. Keep in mind some big portions of your budget can’t be avoided like Venue, Alcohol and Food; otherwise known as VAF. That will take up the most of your budget sorry guys it’s the fact of life. There is no way around it. Especially if you’re having a destination wedding these people are paying their way to some place not close to home the least you can do for them is give them good booze and food. 

In the Philadelphia metro area venues charge a flat rate of $6,000-$10,000 and that only includes using the space no extras- no decor, no food and no booze in that price! Destination venues sometimes don’t have venue fees or are much lower. For example in Punta Cana venue prices vary from $1,500-$5,000US that is a lot more doable when only having a budget of $20,000. 

Alcohol will probably be your next most expensive portion of your budget – unless you want floor to ceiling flowers. Every venue I looked at in the US and Punta Cana, DR the Alcohol was priced per person/per hour. Which actually PC was only cheaper by a few dollars per person/per hour – which yes is a big jump and helps a lot but the venue prices measured out to be the same per plate as venues back at home. 

Once you decide on your max price be aware you might pay more than you originally thought to. My advice is to make a comfortable budget and a max budget. The max is the most you absolutely can afford. The comfortable budget is what you bring to the table when plan.

After you and your partner figure out what is the max you want to spend comfortably then you can decided how you want to spend your budget. You both need to decide what is most important and rate them. Your VAF (Venue, Alcohol, and Food) should be the top of the list in your budget. There is no way around that will eat up most of your budget.

Click here for a copy of the excel I made for the sample. I used one just like this but had more details to it. This is so easy to customize to your needs. My gift towards your wedding planning! Enjoy! 

Summary: Be honest on what you can afford, it’s not always fun but it IS necessary. Don’t forget to remember your fiancé has a say in what’s important. I’m sorry to say it but isn’t the 1900s this wedding isn’t all about you(the bride) it’s about BOTH of you. Once you have your budget set you can then decide on a venue or having the wedding on resort. 

Whatever you choose make sure it fits in your budget and is what you both want. It’s not fun living in a poor house to spend it all within a span of 16 hours on one day. 

UP NEXT: Part 2 – Picking the Destination!

Please let me know what you think of this series! Let me know if you have any questions I can answer! 

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1 Comment

  1. February 23, 2019 / 4:09 am

    Thanks for sharing this article with us. This is very useful to us .

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