Destination Weddings ♥ Budgeting Stage

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How much will it cost?

You’ve decided on a destination wedding. You’ve researched some background information like legal requirements. Now it’s time to ask the important questions about money: how much will it cost? Is a destination wedding less expensive than a traditional one? We’ve broken down some frequently asked questions into easy-to-understand answers, so you know exactly what sort of financial commitment is required.

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Are destination weddings more or less expensive than traditional weddings?

Destination weddings tend to be less expensive than traditional weddings, but this depends on how lavish you want your wedding to be. Traditional weddings are said to cost approximately $30,000 dollars or more.

It’s possible to structure the pricing to subsidize the cost for the bride and groom, however, most couples prefer to pay their own way and not feel as though they are being subsidized by their guests.

One of the main attractions to doing a destination wedding is to keep it small and meaningful in terms of inviting guests that really care about you.  Those who are close to you will have no problem planning their holiday time and finances to attend your wedding in place of another vacation.  More distant family and friends are often less likely to want to join in.  It’s an easy way to keep things small and intimate, without all the hassle and protocol of local invites.

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How much will my destination wedding cost?

This depends on the hotel you choose and the season you decide to travel in: high season occurs during the winter months and has more demand, and thus, higher prices. You will have to consider the price of your vacation package (hotel + flight + transfers) and your wedding package (if it is not complimentary) plus any upgrades you require on that package. It’s best to have a look at our trip matchmaker for approximate flight/resort packages.  We have pre-selected “Weddings” for you in the links below that lead you to trip matchmaker. Fill out the form to view resorts that match your preferences.

Best wedding resorts from Calgary
Best wedding resorts from Edmonton
Best wedding resorts from Halifax
Best wedding resorts from Montreal
Best wedding resorts from Ottawa
Best wedding resorts from Toronto
Best wedding resorts from Vancouver

For other gateways, click one of the links above and choose your city from the drop down menu.

Wedding packages vary from “free” (usually quite basic) to quite elaborate and depend on your hotel (these are not found on our website, but our destination wedding experts can find them out for you.) It’s best to speak with one of our destination wedding experts so we can ask you some questions to better understand your expectations. Then we’ll be able to steer you towards resorts and packages so you can start budgeting.  Affordability and quality for your guests’ expectations is key to success.  You don’t want Uncle X who normally stays in five-star resorts to be completely disappointed, but you also don’t want to price it out of your close friend’s range who just got their first job and is loaded with student debt.

What’s included in the cost of the wedding?

When you book your vacation, the all-inclusive package includes round-trip flights from your selected gateway, your hotel stay, transfers to and from the resort and the inclusions as per the resort, such as dining, drinks, and activities.

Most people purchase a separate wedding package. Some wedding packages are complimentary, depending on how many people you have and what resort you choose. If you want to upgrade or purchase wedding package, this is done through the hotel directly (your travel agent does not do this).

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What resorts offer free weddings?

This depends on the resorts. The majority of hotels offer a basic complimentary wedding package that is simple and elegant, yet people usually upgrade for an additional cost. These complimentary wedding packages still come with their own stipulations: for example, you may get a complimentary wedding when you book at least 7 nights in a Honeymoon Suite, a complimentary wedding when you book 5 rooms or more, or a complimentary wedding when you book up to 10 guests, etc. Your wedding travel specialist will be able to explain exactly what the conditions of a “free wedding” are at a particular resort.

Do we pay extra for the dinner and drinks at the reception dinner?

This depends on your package with the hotel. Many people find it surprising that this might cost extra at an already all-inclusive resort. Once you have a room with a sit-down dinner where everyone is eating all at once, it increases the cost of labour for both food preparation and service. It is entirely different to serve 40 people coming in and out of the restaurant at different times, than serving 40 meals hot all at once. Further, groups are not in a hurry to leave, which means that they cannot use the restaurant for other guests. This is why they will likely charge extra for a private dinner. However, it may be possible to reserve a section of tables in a restaurant depending on your group size. This is where a smaller group is actually easier to handle than a larger one. Many people think that there is negotiating power when there are more guests in a group – this is not usually the case. Larger groups are more labour intensive and difficult to service than individual guests at a resort.

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What are the minimum and maximum requirements for a group booking?

Typically, the minimum requirement to make a “group” is 10 adults and 5 rooms. Groups typically get discounts and promotions if you reach the minimum number of guests. Group bookings typically include things like reduced deposits for guests, a future travel voucher for the bride and groom’s anniversary, a reserved compartment for the wedding gown on the plane, an excursion credit, access to airport lounges, and other perks.

People can be very surprised to find out that there are maximums to the size of groups, or else they come at a price premium. People logically think that more people is more bargaining power, but this is not always the case. Some resorts may limit the number of groups, size of groups, and size of tour operator allotments sold as groups contractually. This can mean that a large group requires a special quote, and customers are surprised to find a higher price than individual reservations. It’s because large groups arriving at once, eating at once, congregating in certain areas at once (bars, etc.) can increase the labour costs of service delivery compared to individuals spread all over the resort.

How do I qualify to get to go for free?

Based upon the contract of the resort and tour operator, complimentary passengers depend on how many guests are booked. Sometimes the contract is one free guest for every 15 guests: sometimes one free guest for every 25 guests, etc. Some popular hotels offer no concessions whatsoever. You will still have to pay taxes and surcharges on the complimentary guests.

Many couples feel uncomfortable with their guests subsidizing their trip. What doesn’t work is dividing up the complimentary passenger cost into small amounts for each person. The concessions are based on the number of people that travel. It is best to use the excess funds if applicable to treat people at the resort as your guest – premium drinks, spa credits, an excursion – rather than divvying it up.

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Why do you require a deposit per person?

The non-refundable deposit is required by the tour operator to hold seats for your group and ensure you are confirmed. Some tour operators allow the bride and groom’s deposit to also hold a minimal amount seats and rooms to give guests time to decide. As guests start to book, the deposit is collected from each guest. This ensures your space at both the resort and on the plane. Your deposit secures the space, and it becomes non-refundable at some point to ensure that inventory is not tied up and then released all at once – hotels and tour operators do not want unsold space.

How much are the deposits and when is final payment due?

Deposits depend upon the contract (~$100-$300 per person). Final payment is typically due 60 days prior to departure unless otherwise stated, as there could be early booking bonuses applied. Early booking bonuses may have an earlier deadline for final payment in exchange for a bigger discount. Failure to pay on time will cause the loss of the discount. Once paid in full, cancellation penalties increase the closer you get to departure.

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Are there departure taxes?

Departure taxes are to be paid in cash at the airport before departing the country. In most cases, it is already included in your vacation package by the tour operator. In others, such as Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic (if booked with Sunwing), you may have to pay this locally in cash. Departure taxes are approximately $20-$40 USD per person. Your travel agent will be able to advise if this is pre-collected or payable in cash locally. It’s something you want to be aware of in advance and compare before you book.

Should I purchase travel insurance?

Yes, you should always purchase travel insurance especially with group travel. We have a legal obligation to offer every passenger trip cancellation insurance and out-of-province medical insurance. We strongly recommend protecting your travel investment with insurance. In the case of group travel, the parties are related, and if something happens which allowed one party to cancel, all related parties could cancel and make a claim. The risk of cancellation increases when the number of passengers travelling together increases.

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How much do you charge for your services?

When standard destinations and resorts are booked, our group pricing will typically include all the standard services we provide. Included in our standard services is a team of support staff which back up our destination wedding specialists, ensuring payments are accurate, collected from your guests on time, and properly remitted to our suppliers to avoid problems. A separate team double checks names, dates, room categories, and electronic documents to ensure accuracy. And, when the unexpected happens, a team of support staff help with interruptions like weather, delays, etc.

We are happy to provide a standard graphic design package at no cost to you for simple wedding invitations that you can bring to a local printer (or Staples store) plus your password-protected, personalized website.

In some cases, our guests expect an even higher level of service and more work between us and the wedding coordinator. If you want an even more hands-off approach to your wedding planning, we are happy to provide a higher level of service for things like arranging group excursions and other customized touches. In these cases, we will quote pricing and service fees for your preferences.

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Continue to Part 4: Booking Stage ♥ Ready to say ‘I do’

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