How To Plan A Destination Wedding On A Budget

Did you know that you don’t have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars for your upcoming destination wedding? – a wedding on a budget can be incredible. And we’re going to tell you how to do it! So, put your wallet away for now because these tips are free. And by the end of this post, you’ll have some beautiful ideas on keeping your wedding budget under control and manageable without losing any of the magic. 

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. A “budget wedding” doesn’t mean it’s dull or lackluster. Sure, you may have to skimp on a few things, but your wedding can be elegant, quirky, high value, or small and intimate without breaking the bank. After all, the worst thing you can do is start your marriage in debt just for a few hours of fun. 

With creativity and flexibility, you can avoid debt and still have the most memorable day to reflect on! If anything, having a wedding on a smaller budget opens up numerous opportunities to be innovative and spontaneous and surprise your guests when they least expect it – think food trucks or ice-cream bars!

How To Plan A Destination Wedding On A Budget

How To Plan Your Destination Wedding On A Budget

Planning a destination wedding on a budget can seem like a colossal task with tons of compromise, but it doesn’t have to be. For starters, you’ll need to come up with an approximate budget to work with and then maintain records on an app or a spreadsheet so you know exactly how much you’re spending at any given time.

Next, you’ll need to choose a destination that you want to have the wedding in and make sure that it’s a destination that is accessible to your guests no matter where they’re traveling from.

While setting a budget is excellent, every couple knows you need to make allowances because expenses increase as the process goes on, and some vendors may adjust rates due to inflation. One thing’s for sure; you need to bring your thinking cap when planning a spectacular wedding on a budget. 

Decide On What Kind Of Wedding You Want 

Envisioning the style, vibe, and aesthetic of your wedding determines everything from start to finish. How have you always dreamed of walking down the aisle? Is it a canopy of seasonal wildflowers or a very chic display of golden chairs, candles, and mirrors, or even a farmhouse, rustic vibe? Many couples say they simply cannot do without a fairytale ballroom and some may want to tone it down to a quiet, serene wedding ceremony on the beach.

It’s all personal preference and a starting point from where you begin planning your wedding and bringing all the different aspects together.

Using a mood board, for example, can be excellent for figuring out the general vibe you want. For example, do you want a reception that provides easy conversation, dancing, and socializing, or would you prefer a more formal dining setup for your guests? 

Pinterest and Instagram can be excellent sources to view wedding styles and themes. Simply scrolling through your feed can teach you which styles appeal to you most. And once you decide on your wedding theme, looking for vendors and deciding which DIY project you can undertake is much simpler.

Talk About Wedding Budget: 

Deciding on your wedding budget might be one of the first major financial decisions you make with your partner. And it’s all about deciding which aspects, such as the venue or wedding favors, you’re trying to spend less on and where you’re willing to splurge a bit. 

Sound financial management dictates that you and your partner should have a sensible amount as disposable income (income minus basic expenses) and an emergency fund (for job loss etc.) set aside, and the wedding fund should be separate from both. 

Writing out percentages of the total expense you’re willing to devote to each part of the wedding (dresses, catering, flower arrangement, and so forth) can be useful in dividing the cost.

Determine Your Non-Negotiables

Non-negotiables…everyone has them, right? Everyone has their passions in life, whether it’s fashion, music, being a foodie, or loving décor, and that should dictate what makes it to your non-negotiable list. Choose one or two aspects of a wedding celebration that you “must have” and, by extension, spend on. 

If you and your partner have the same interests, you can mutually bring the vision to life, but it can also be an individual personal preference. For example, are you keen on a live band or a DJ, and does your partner prefer a cocktail hour before the wedding reception? 

How To Plan A Destination Wedding On A Budget

Decisions like this impact the overall wedding budget, so discussing your non-negotiables early in the wedding planning stages is essential. Check out this post if you’re wondering, “how much does a wedding cost?”  

Break Down Into Vendor Cost Categories

A couple planning a budget wedding should break down the cost per vendor and consider services they can do without, such as hair stylists, photographers, wedding planners, or makeup artists. If you have talented friends specializing in these services, you can probably save hundreds if not thousands of dollars! 

For a City Hall wedding, you’d only need $25 or slightly above for the ceremony, for example, leaving behind a lot of money for that perfect intimate wedding dinner with close friends and family or a statement piece of wedding jewelry you can pass down as an heirloom.

Suppose you’re having a rustic farmhouse chic barn affair. In that case, you can throw in a vintage preloved gown, make the dress code cowboy casual and invest in great catering (a local farm-to-table experience resonates with everyone). Then spend your budget on mood lighting, a great DJ, and plenty of flowers. 

Even a small destination wedding can be in the cards if you manage your budget well, book a medium-level accommodation option encouraging guests to chip in, make e-vites, and save money on vendors such as planners, photographers, or dress designer.

Finalize Wedding Date – Embrace Off-Season & Weekdays

Spring, early summer, and the beginning of fall are the most coveted wedding seasons but getting married in peak season means everything costs more. So if you’re trying to pull off a brilliant wedding on a budget, consider getting married in the off-season. Off-season or weekdays will undoubtedly have lower vendor pricing, and you’ll be able to get more of your ‘must-have’ wedding elements. And off-season or weekday events can also mean you have fewer looky-loos spying on your big day. 

Tips For Planning Your Budget Wedding

Keep It Intimate 

Large wedding gatherings can be overrated. A more intimate reception with only your loved ones and friends (minus colleagues or extended relations you don’t even like) can make for a happier wedding day. Positive vibes can make or break a celebration, and a couple should only be surrounded by their best friends and closest relatives on this special day. In addition, an intimate gathering means you can have more high-value elements such as pricier table decor, better catering, and beautiful wedding favors because you have fewer people to pay for. 

How To Plan A Destination Wedding On A Budget

Host Reception At Home

Consider using a vacation home belonging to a relative or friend, a large barn or farmhouse location, or even your own backyard for your wedding. With the right lighting, décor, and music options, it can outperform the best wedding venue for a fraction of the cost. In addition, you can keep the festivities going until the early morning hours if you like or have an after-party as you won’t be bound by the rules of a professional wedding venue!  

DIY When Possible

Whether it’s wedding favors, the wedding cake, flower arrangements, table centerpieces, or even the tailoring of the wedding dress itself, a good DIY is appreciated by everyone far more than expensive purchases. And it’s a great way to save when planning a wedding on a budget. 

Scout For Affordable Vendors

‘Go local’ is a good motto when choosing vendors. For your catering, choose a local chef or caterer that sources from nearby sources to make astounding delicacies. Opt out of expensive specialty vendors for flowers, music, and lighting, and engage friends to help you design these aspects of your wedding. Reading reviews online for great startup vendors can be a great idea to get quality and personalization without overspending. 

Have A Friend Take Pictures

Everyone has a friend, a cousin, or a friend-of-a-friend who dabbles in photography, so see if they’re willing to be a part of your big day and do a photo shoot for you free of charge. 

Shop For Wedding Dress On Sale

The most sublime wedding dress need not be from the priciest designer store; look up preloved options in your area (websites and stores) for a second-hand vintage gown. Knowing when your favorite store will go on sale can help you plan ahead and save money.

How To Plan A Destination Wedding On A Budget

Keep The Bridal Party Small

No one “needs” dozens of bridesmaids, regardless of what you may see on wedding blogs or Instagram. So, pick the people closest to your heart and let them be your bridal party. It’ll create a much more enjoyable experience. 

Start A Honeymoon Fund

A honeymoon fund allows your loved ones to invest in experiences and items that’ll genuinely be used and appreciated in your life. Start a honeymoon fund before your wedding and set up a payment method such as bank transfers so your closest friends and family can contribute to a vacation abroad or a great coffeemaker, among other things. Not having to pay for your honeymoon is a great way to save while planning a wedding on a budget.   

Skip The DJ

Did you know a DJ can cost upwards of 10% of the cost of the entire wedding? You can make your wedding playlist from Spotify or similar music apps and play it on a good sound system that can be hired inexpensively. Readymade playlists for wedding dances can be downloaded easily and mixed with other types of music for the reception. It’s a great way to save!

Choose Hand-Me-Down Wedding Bands

Another great way to keep your wedding budget under control is with your rings. Wedding rings and bands can cost quite a lot so consider hand-me-down bands from your parents or relatives as they’ll be higher in sentimental value!  

How To Plan A Destination Wedding On A Budget

Use A Little Elbow Grease

Having the wedding of your dreams isn’t always about money, it’s about repurposing what you already have, utilizing the talents of your loved ones, and putting in some elbow grease to get tasks done. The result can be a day that’s all the more special because it incorporates sentimental value, lots of love, DIY pieces, and creative improvisation! 

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