A: Well, the answer is...it depends. But it will be a whole lot less than a wedding of the same caliber in the United States!
The cost of a destination wedding can run the full spectrum, all depending on the many things you can choose to include or not to include for your wedding.
Now, this answer doesn't help much, does it?! Well, let us give you a better idea...
If there is one thing we've learned from years of working with 40-60 weddings and events every year in the Washington DC, and Baltimore region, its that weddings and events in the US cost a heck of a lot of money! We've seen it all, from $70,000 florist bills to $30,000 to have flamingoes at the event.
According to TheKnot.com from a 2016 study, the average cost of a wedding in the US was 35,329. Now, I dont know about you, but I'm willing to bet it hasn't gone down since 2016!
All of this money is spent on one single day, which if you break it down to the actual event time, on average it's about 20 minutes in front of your guests for the ceremony, followed by a 4 hour reception, where about 1.5 of those hours are spent enjoying the meal.
That leaves you with about 2.5 hours (or exactly 1 minute per person for 150 guest event) to talk to everyone, thank them for coming, and try to enjoy the party with them. And don't forget all the traditional wedding formalities you will need to fit in as well like first dance, cake cutting, etc. You may want to cut that down to about 15-30 seconds with each guest.
Now, in comparison, most of our destination weddings are a bit smaller, usually around 40-60 guests. However since the vast majority of all inclusive resorts have a requirement of a 3 night minimum stay, the wedding event is not teathered to just one day, or one evening.
Many destination weddings have multiple events spread out over many days. A typical itinerary includes a welcome cocktail hour or dinner for all guests (not just the immediate family and wedding party like a normal "rehearsal dinner" would be back home). The wedding day events which often very much resemble the same pattern at weddings in the states; ceremony, followed by cocktail hour and reception. Then, the day after the wedding, many destination weddings choose to host a "recovery brunch" or do a group excursion on a catamaran just for their group.
Here's how we see the comparisons from a destination wedding to the local wedding:
Our Client's Destination Weddings:
Days of events
Thousand average cost for our clients
Hours to have fun with your guests
Weddings in the United States:
Day of events
Thousand average cost
Hours to have fun with your guests
But what about travel expenses?
Q: Sure the wedding itself may be less, but then there is the added cost of traveling!! The hotel room and airfare sure can add up.
A: Well, unless you are paying for your guests, most travel expenses for two are minimal compared to the wedding costs and often the couples get their room for free anyway!
For groups, many resorts will issue an incentive based on the number of rooms you book in your group (if you book as part of a contracted room block - if you book on a travel website, you get nothing). Once this incentive is calculated, it typically means that the bride and groom, get a big fat check! Some of our clients have seen upwards of $14,000 - more than enough to pay for their room and their entire wedding!!
That's right, with many resorts, they literally pay you to bring them a group! This directly off-sets the cost of your room (and sometimes other rooms as well), or your wedding.
Now, the incentives vary from resort to resort. and since it is based on how many guests travel, this amount won't be finalized until everyone travels, so you will need to lay out that money for the wedding first. But knowing you are going to get a good amount back is certainly helpful!
Be sure to work with a travel agency who knows the resort's incentive programs, as some are very generous, and some give almost nothing! This is an important factor your agent should go over with you before you decide on a resort.
There is no doubt, when it comes to a wedding, even a destination wedding: You can spend as much or as little as you want. We have clients that spend anywhere from $950 to $30,000 and there are many factors that come into play that will determine how much you spend on your wedding.
But we've found what helps the most is looking at actual client's detailed break-down of their expenses so you can get a better idea of what your wedding might cost you.
Jessica & Ryan
Resort - El Dorado Royale
Wedding Ceremony & Reception - 83 Guests - $20,136.00
Travel - Room & Air for 2 guests, 7 days - $5,010.50
Total Credits Received (Hotel Promotions) - $8,848.77
Actual Final Cost - $16,027.73
Missed Comp Value Due to guests booking outside the room block - $2319.39!
ashley & jamie
Resort - Dreams Playa Mujeres
Wedding Ceremony & Reception - 34 guests - $11,733.60
Travel - Room & Air for 2 adults, 1 child, 5 days - $3,332.38
Total Credits Received (Hotel & BAI Promotions) - $7,056.30
Actual Final Cost - $8009.68
Samantha & Daniel
Resort - Hard Rock Punta Cana
Wedding Ceremony & Reception -54 guests - $12,290.00
Travel - Room & Air for 2 adults, 7 days - $4,459.78
Total Credits Received (Hotel & BAI Promotions) - $5,023.86
Actual Final Cost - $7,094.74
The real beauty of a destination wedding is that it takes all of the standard "wedding rules" that the wedding industry tells us we have to follow and it throws them out the window. You can spend very little and still have an absolutely amazing wedding. Or, you can go over the top and throw the event of the decade. But one thing is for sure; To throw an event of equal caliber in the United States, it will cost you a lot more!
Although it can be overwhelming, Be All Inclusive has been living and breathing weddings since 2005. We are here to be your guide every step of the way throughout the entire process.