The bride wore a short dress for the beach ceremony--at the groom's request!

Does a barefoot-chic wedding on a tropical beach cost less than a traditional hometown wedding?                                             Thayer Allyson Gowdy Photo

For many couples, the topic comes up almost before the engagement photos are posted on Instagram: Will a destination wedding cost less than getting married where you or your families live? Recently, the editors of Merrill Lynch’s online site interviewed me on the subject, which is apparently of interest even to couples with very deep pockets, or who are lucky enough to have their parents financing the event.

My basic argument is that while a destination wedding has expenses not associated with a traditional celebration—travel, hotel rooms, rental cars, multiple gatherings and parties, and possibly an entire wedding weekend wardrobe—if you keep your guest numbers down, even all those costs won’t  come near what a big, traditional wedding will run. When you pare a guest list down from 300 to 30, you save on almost every aspect of the wedding: invitations, food, drink, flowers, favors, music, even the photography.

At least that’s my take on things. To decide if marrying away from home makes financial sense for you, you’ll need to do some basic research on catering costs and venue rentals in your area, then compare them with wedding packages in the destination that you’re considering. And of course you’ll need to balance the cost-savings with the kind of wedding you two really crave—it doesn’t matter how affordable it is if you’re not with the people you care about.

As a first step in your wedding planning, the Merrill Lynch piece is a  good place to start.    ——Sally Kilbridge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *