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Tips for an Inexpensive Destination Wedding

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It may seem counterintuitive, but you can save money on your wedding by having a destination event.

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It may seem counterintuitive, but you can save money on your wedding by having a destination event. My fiancé and I learned this when we chose to have our wedding in Maui in September. How? These five steps can help you keep the budget lower than a hometown celebration:
Cut the Guest List
This is easier to do at an out-of-town wedding, because you can explain to others that you want an intimate celebration with just close family and friends. With a traditional wedding, you may feel obligated to invite acquaintances you see often, co-workers, distant relatives, parents’ friends and significant others of guests. With a hometown wedding, 20 percent of invited guests won’t be able to make it, according to Martha Stewart Weddings, but The Knot Guide to Destination Weddings says that for a destination event that number surges to 50 percent.
Focus on the Big Picture
A perk of destination weddings can be a picturesque setting. Let the backdrop be the decor. No one will remember the place cards when you have waves crashing on a beach or the splendor of a canyon behind you during the ceremony. Also, Hawaii beach weddings often don’t have a venue fee other than the cost of a permit, which is generally less than $50. Many national parks allow weddings for the cost of a permit as well. In our case, we initially chose a beach wedding but ultimately decided to use a private lawn overlooking the ocean, which cost us just $325, including the rental of white chairs.
Get a Package
Research coordinators at your destination who offer packages containing the necessary vendors within your budget. We selected a package priced at $2,295 before tax, which covers the officiate, a coordinator the day of the wedding, two toasting flutes, a musician for the ceremony, photography and 30 prints, videography, marriage license appointment setup, a bouquet, leis for the bride and groom, a boutonniere, in-room hair and makeup, limo transportation for two hours, a keepsake wedding certificate and a written copy of our vows.
Our package also allowed us to take items off the package if not necessary, such as we did with the limo (which reduced our cost by $175). The great thing about packages like this is that a coordinator will direct the vendors on the day of your wedding, so you don’t have to worry. Had we chosen to have the wedding at home, we would have had to shop for each vendor separately and without the coordinator’s discounts.
Have a Dinner-Only Reception
Make reservations at a nice local restaurant, rather than reserve a venue. Eateries often have private dining areas that can accommodate wedding parties. Our wedding dinner venue has three semi-private and private areas and had several menus to choose from. We’d considered having the wedding at Heritage Square in Phoenix. The site rental fee alone would have cost $3,500. That’s in addition to catering costs and rentals. Our dinner will cost much less, at about $1,000 including the cost of the cake for less than 20 people.
Travel in the Off-Season and Look for Group Rates
Our wedding is in September, the tourism off-season in Maui, so hotel rates when we booked were much lower. One of our hotels was $195, compared to more than $270 in the regular season. This trip will also be our honeymoon, so there are no extra costs for travel.
While a destination wedding isn’t cheap, a hometown wedding would have cost us a lot more. Consider whether your situation will allow a more intimate, hassle-free celebration for less. It can be worth it to create vacation memories with the ones you love most.

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