How to save money on a destination wedding

Money-saving strategies can be applied to all destination weddings, whether you’re planning on hosting your event on a beach in Bermuda, in the heart of London, or in a remote area of New Zealand. To make your destination wedding come to life without breaking the bank, check out the handy tips below.

1. Hire a Wedding Planner

It may seem like an extra expense at first, but hiring a wedding planner could actually save you money in the long run. The right expert can be helpful when it comes to planning a local wedding, but these professionals can come in especially handy when you’re trying to plan a wedding from abroad.

Wedding planners will be able to give you insider tips on where to go to save the most money on your big day. Beyond that, they may even be able to direct you to the most beautiful venues that offer complete packages that will save you money on everything from photography and videography services, to flowers and your cake.

Just be sure to hire a planner who has loads of experience in executing ceremonies and receptions at your location. You want a bona fide wedding planner who knows the ins and outs of the industry and who has a network of skilled wedding professionals at your destination.

Bonus points if you can book a venue that provides a planner as part of your package!

2. Get Married in the Off-Season

Every tourist area has an off-season when there will be far fewer crowds to contend with and when prices will be dramatically lower. If you can manage to book your destination wedding in a place where the weather will be ideal during the off-season and you can get great rates on your vendors and venue, it’s a win-win.

Take Florida, as an example. You can have a tropical wedding there during any month of the year, but because the in-season occurs during the winter months, you’ll end up paying a lot more for your accommodations, so you might want to stick with the summer months instead. Just keep in mind that the summer season is also the one that has a higher chance of rain, tropical storms, and hurricanes, so there’s definitely a trade-off. In that case, you can increase your odds of perfect weather and low prices by booking at the very start of the off-season when storms are less likely to develop.

It’s also best to avoid major holidays, such as New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas. It might be really romantic to get married on these days, but it’s likely that the costs will be higher, even when it comes to purchasing flowers and booking hair, makeup, and entertainment experts.

3. Shop Smart by Looking for Deals

In addition to actually getting married during the off-season, if you have booked your big day far enough in advance, you can even shop for your accessories during the off-season as well. So, as an example, if you’re planning a tropical destination wedding, you can snag some great deals on summer décor, hair accessories, flip-flops, favours, and more when you shop for them at the end of the season.

Even when it comes to purchasing your wedding dress, you don’t need to shop the designer racks to find a gorgeous gown that your body will look flawless in. Don’t be afraid to shop last year’s styles. Also consider purchasing a used gown that’s only been worn once and can be altered to fit your frame. Or go with a formal white dress that isn’t actually a wedding gown (this option works really well for brides who are planning on getting married on the beach).

4. Choose a Venue That’s Easy to Get To

A lovely wedding venue that’s in a more remote location may have that perfect combination of romance and solitude, but it’s likely going to be harder—and more expensive—for you and your guests to arrive there.

Don’t forget things like duties, visas, and taxes, as well as the cost of your transportation and travel documents, which can quickly add up, especially when you need to haul a lot of things to your destination to make your wedding happen (your gown, your groom’s tuxedo, the favors, the shoes, the jewelry, etc.). If you need to take a plane to a major airport and then get a connecting flight or a ferry to your final destination, you’ll end up paying more when everything’s said and done.

Keep costs low by booking your wedding at a place that’s easy to access by plane, and book a direct non-stop flight in advance and during off-peak hours to save on your airfare. In this way, once you arrive at the airport, all you’ll need to do is grab a taxi and take all of your belongings to your resort or hotel.  

5. Get Married Where You’ll Be Staying

Nothing is better on a busy wedding day than having everything you need in one place, so if you can get married where you’ll be booking your room, you can enjoy convenience and you can save money, too.

Many destination wedding venues double as vacation resorts that couples can enjoy at any time of the year. So if you can book your event at the location that will be providing your accommodations, you can get ready there, tie the knot and celebrate there, and then head to your suite at the end of the night without having to worry about travelling from one place to another and booking multiple venues.

The added bonus of booking your wedding at a resort is the fact that you can set aside discounted rooms where your guests can stay. On top of saving money, you can all be in one place and enjoy each other’s company until it’s time to head home or off to your honeymoon.

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6. Don’t Make Your Payments Using Your Bank or Credit Card

After you’ve researched and chosen affordable vendors, there’s still another step you can take to save even more on an overseas wedding: pay your venue and vendors by wiring your money to them via OFX.

Most banks take a 5% margin on the foreign exchange rate for the day and credit card margins aren’t far behind that. On credit card payments, you’ll usually incur additionally foreign transaction fees. While 5% may not sound like much, you’d be paying an extra $1,500 on a $30,000 wedding transfer. At OFX, we think that’s too much. So when you use OFX to transfer money internationally instead of your bank, you may just save enough to pay for the bride’s designer shoes.  

By wiring your money with specialist foreign currency payment provider like OFX, you can also lock in an exchange rate for up to a year so you know what you’ll be paying even if the currency exchange rates move substantially before your big day.

7. Keep Your Guest List Small

Another way to cut costs pretty dramatically when it comes to planning any wedding, but especially a destination wedding, is by keeping your guest list small. An intimate affair with your closest friends and family will be just as exquisite as any large and lavish event, but you could save hundreds or even thousands.

Even though you might be tempted to invite everyone you’ve ever known so they can see your perfect day unfold, keep the number of guests reasonable for the sake of your budget. After all, you can always throw a separate party locally to celebrate with everyone after you’ve had your destination wedding.

8. Pack as Much as You Can

The more you can pack and take with you to your wedding destination, the better. This is because international shipping costs, especially for large and heavy packages, can be surprisingly expensive.

If there are any items that you need to ship to your destination in advance, ship them with enough time to spare so that you can get a lower rate on a standard shipping speed.

9. Save on Wedding Décor

Who really needs a ton of wedding décor when you have the gorgeous ocean as your backdrop? Consider booking your big day at a venue that really makes the most of the beautiful scenery that surrounds it. In this way, you won’t have to spend nearly as much on everything from floral arrangements to uplighting and more.

10. Get Officially Married in Advance

Many couples who choose to have a faraway ceremony and reception actually end up getting married legally at their local government office. This is because every location will have a different set of rules, including how long you need to be in a country prior to being able to get married there. To avoid all of those headaches, as well as save on the cost of legal fees and the cost of getting to and from government offices, get married at home first.

Ultimately, the best way to save money on any wedding—destination or otherwise—is by planning your big day far enough in advance to give yourself time to shop around. With your budget set, the right strategies in place, and a determination to make your dream wedding a reality without making your bank account cry, you’ll be able to craft the wedding of your dreams.

IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. OzForex Limited (trading as OFX) and its affiliated entities make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.