STEP TWO: Establish a budget
Even though having a destination wedding is often much less expensive than having a traditional wedding, it’s not always the case. The destination and how much assistance you provide to your guests (if you are inviting guests), will play a huge factor in how much your big day will end up costing. So, sit down and look over your finances. Be realistic and don’t feel as if you have to go into debt, because you certainly do not have to do that! Establish how much you think you can feasibly spend on your part of the wedding. In some cases, it’s just the travel costs- airfare, hotel, food, etc., since some hotels offer free wedding packages. Then, if you have chosen to share your big day with your loved ones, try to establish a reasonable budget for what you think they will need to spend during their stay to attend your wedding. Keep in mind, the bride and groom typically stays longer than their guests, so don’t assume your cost will be the same as the guests’ cost. Also, be sure to check with your “VIP” guests, such as parents, siblings, and grandparents, to see if they are open to traveling. It would not be ideal if you desperately wanted to get married in the presence of your mom but mom refuses to travel!
After talking about your finances, be completely honest about your budget with your travel agent and take your agent’s advice as to what can and cannot be done feasibly within that budget. As I mentioned above, different areas of the world have different costs, so keep in mind that when you ask for a traditional Fijian or Tahitian wedding during high season, but your guest budget is only around $2500 per person, your choices will be extremely limited or not even an option at all. Also, try to maintain a consistent budget throughout the planning process. Travel agents understand that things come up and you might have to make cuts, but telling your agent that you have $25,000 to work with and then slashing the budget to $10,000 after the agent prepared several proposals creates a lot of frustrations on everyone’s part.
Remember, budget is a very personal thing and everyone has a different idea of what their limit is, but for us, we know going in what is feasible and what is just not going to fly. We’re using research tools such as hotel and airline websites, as well as my agent expertise, to see what areas of the world and resorts fit within our target price. You would be surprised how many resorts publish their wedding packages online!