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Destination Wedding Information

How to Plan an All Inclusive Destination Wedding: Top 10 Things to know!

You have decided to have a Destination wedding. 🙂 Love, Beach and Margaritas, Yay!

Now, where do you start? What are the basics you need to know in order to organize your dream tropical wedding?

Throwing a destination wedding will be a memory of a lifetime not only for you but for your guests too.

However, before you fly away to paradise to marry the love of your life, there are some important details to consider.

Here is the top 10 things to know about how to plan an All Inclusive Destination Wedding.

Top 10 things to know about how to plan an All inclusive Destination Wedding

  1. Figure out your budget
  2. Consider your guests
  3. There is no such thing as a “Free” wedding (sorry)
  4. All Inclusive means free food and booze, right?
  5. Hire a Travel Pro
  6. Outside vendor fees
  7. Budget for Extras
  8. Know about group rates
  9. Type of Ceremony
  10. Photo and Video Costs

1. Figure out your budget

The first thing every couple wants to know is: How much does a destination wedding cost? 

And the answer sucks: It depends!

The reality is that no destination wedding cost the same.

The final price of your destination wedding will vary based on a variety of factors like the venue, wedding packages, the number of guests attending and the extras you want to add (Think flowers, decor, live band, etc).

Having a maximum budget you are willing to spend will help narrow down the list for your ideal wedding location.

How much does a destination wedding cost blog post

2. Consider your Guests

First, let me be clear. This is about you, the couple!

However, you need to accept that not everyone will accept to go. Whether it is because of the price point, the location or other factors, you need to come to terms that some people will not attend.

Talk to the ones you REALLY want there and make sure that they are on board. Figure out what the comfortable price point would be for the majority and try to find a destination that does not require 3 connecting flights from your main hub!

3. There is no such thing as a free wedding (Sorry!)

Sure some packages might be “free” of cost to you. However, they will be based on how many paid room nights your groups bring to the resort. They will also have quite a few restrictions.

Some hotels offer more advantages than others but remember, that there is no such thing as a free lunch. If they give you something is because they are getting something as well.

All ‘free” packages have conditions. Some are better than others. Just make sure you know they work for you.

4. All Inclusives means free food and booze, right?

Mmmm yes, but not for special events. 

So all meals and drinks for the “regular” part of your stay will be included. 

However, for the wedding events (rehearsal dinner, cocktail hour, reception dinner, etc) there will be a fee per person charged by the hotel. Wedding packages will include a certain amount of guests in the rate but anyone above that is a per person fee.

They are justified by the resorts because of their need to mobilize special location, staff and products for the event. 

5. Hire a Travel Pro

Taking care of the reservations for all you guests is time consuming and can be a lot of hard work.

What if I told you that you can get help for free? ( I know I said there is no such thing as a free lunch…but this one is free to you, the resort pays for it!)

Get a good travel agent. Destination wedding Travel agents  are paid commissions on the rooms you book by the tour operators/resorts and it does not cost you anything more! (That’s what we do at Hola Wedding by the way ;))

Would it not be cheaper if I went directly with the resort? 

Nope. Tour operators buy rooms in bulk and therefore get a much better rate than most people. 

Also, Travel agents know what perks you should get and work for you to get the most freebies out for you. They are a great addition to your wedding team!

Why choose a Travel agent for your destination wedding

6. Outside Vendor Fees

Three words that make a couple shiver: Outside vendor fees. 

All resorts have them. They have their list of preferred vendors for everything from decor and  hair and make-up to photographers and DJ. And you guest it, some of them can seem pricey.

So hire another one you say? Sounds good, but if you want to bring your own, they’ll hit you with an outside vendor fee that could be anywhere from $150 to $1000 per vendor.

Ask the hotel what they are before signing your contract (or your travel agent!) .

7. Budget for Extras

budget is one of of the main aspect to consider on how to plan an all inclusive destination wedding

Destination weddings can be as simple as a white ceremony with a small bouquet on the beach. It can also be very extravagant with tons of flowers and decor, a photo session, cocktail hour and a fancy reception dinner and party.

Some will be included with the wedding packages. It will vary based on the one you choose. Thing is, wedding packages are not flexible. If you want to swap the white table cloth for blue ones, no problem but it’ll cost you. Don’t need the cake? No problem, but the price stays the same.

Go beyond the package price. You most likely will want to add a few items to it.

8. Group rates are not the same as individual rates

Did you know it is possible for the room rates of a group to be more expensive than the price you see online? Crazy stuff. 

Hotels and airlines use dynamic pricing. They will sell a certain amount of room at a special rate before increasing it once they are sold. 

Therefore, the group rate is usually an average of their different prices, hence why it can be higher than the one you see online. 

 As a whole the group gets a better price than if everyone booked individually but it does not always seem that way. 

On the other hand, they will offer you compensation and freebies. Normally, this is one free room per 10 paid, a few upgrades, rebates at the spa, etc. 

You are important to them but remember that even if you have 100 people, this can represent only 5% of the guests at certain resorts. 

See our how to get the best rate for you wedding group Blog post

9. Know the type of ceremony

There are three main types of ceremonies: Symbolic, Religious and Legal.

Symbolic is the most popular. It holds no legal or religious value. Most couples get married at home before or after the symbolic ceremony to make it official but have all the fun at their destination.

A religious ceremony is also possible. Depending on the religion, it will be offered only at certain hotels and ,his usually means arriving at the destination a few more days in advance to get the paperwork in order. 

Legal ceremonies can be performed in a variety of countries. Destinations have different rules based on the country of origin of the couple. This also means arriving earlier in most cases and paperwork, translations and it will involve higher costs. 

Same sex weddings are performed at most resorts. However, some countries and resorts are lagging behind. Therefore, it is good to check if they will host the marriage before deciding on a wedding location.

10. Plan for Photo and Video cost

Photos and videos are the best souvenirs of a destination wedding. 

Plan ahead for the cost of it. Know if you want a professional photographer or if you want to gather photos from your guests. 

All resorts will have their own preferred photo and video vendors. However, find the one that fits with your vision. This is a one time event and capturing it will give you a lifetime of memories. 

There are plenty of options. If you want to bring your own, the resorts will waive the outside vendor fee if they stay at the resort for three days.

Pro tips from a destination wedding photographer

11. Bonus tip: Be Flexible

Flexibility goes a long way when planning a destination wedding. Being able to play around with the dates could help you find better rates. 

There are also a multitude of wedding venues options available other than the beach. Sky terrace, beautiful jungle and gardens, Gazebos, Cenotes. All possible options if the beach is not available on your chosen date. 

I hope you enjoyed those tips. Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. We love what we do and we work for you, the couple!

Jeff Lanno

Having worked in travel agencies for the past 15+ years, this morphed into managing groups and wedding groups. Travel is my passion. I backpacked the world for 7 years in my 20s and now keep going as much as family life permits it! I visited more than 35 countries (so far), 4 continents (so far) and lived in 6 countries (so far). My goal is to make the travel and destination wedding experience a beautiful and a memorable experience. I love helping people discover new places and experience new things. I can work with people from the USA and Canada, and I am a legally certified Canadian travel agent with an OPC license from Qc.

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