Planning a Destination Wedding - Budget and Vendors

There is a lot that goes into planning a wedding, and even more when planning a destination wedding. The next two topics that make a huge impact on your plans are budget and vendor selection. Once you have selected your venue, usually there is a coordinator that you work with and they can help with any questions you may have about the entire process.


First place to start is figure our your budget! And I’ll tell you a secret, you probably won’t stay within that budget because naturally everything costs more than you budget for. We set our budget to $15,000 and with the prices the planner gave me, that seems to be totally in reach! I also made a spread sheet to create the budget and one to keep track of money spent.

The average cost of a wedding in the US is $35,000 and that cost can increase depending on how many guests you have attend. The average cost of a destination wedding can vary between $1000-$10,000 depending on how involved you want to be. Most resorts actually offer a complimentary wedding package which includes the most basic elements, (ceremony with minister, chairs, canopy. Bridal bouquet, gifts for the bride and groom, complimentary room to get ready in, and wedding coordinator.) But to receive the complimentary wedding, they usually have some terms and condition including that you must book 10 roos for 3 night stay or something along those lines. Nothing is ever free! What isn’t included is anything before of after the ceremony, so this package is best for a small wedding that only includes the ceremony.

Packages vary with each resort. We chose the largest package at Villa Del Arco which was still was only $2,849! Here is what is included…

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So where does all the money go? Day of costs, hair and make up, flowers, DJ or band, photographer and video, reception (decorations, food, drinks, dance floor, tables and chairs, linens). Don’t forget to include your travel and hotel stay, plus or minus a honeymoon if they decide to do one while you are there. Other things to consider within your budget is all the costs before the wedding like dress, shoes, jewelry, grooms attire, engagement pictures, rings, dress alterations, save the dates and invitations, welcome bags, showers and favors, bachelorette party, welcome/ rehearsal dinner. There are so many things I didn’t even think of when we came up with a budget, and how would I know? Ive never planned a wedding before. There are a lot of lists out there to help with the planning process and keeping track of your budget, like this one by Happily Hitched.

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Here is the actual spread sheet I created. As you can see, the one side is the proposed cost and the other is the actual cost. I was fortunate enough to have some family help to pay some of the costs of some things so it didn’t all have to come out of our budget. But… as you see, we went over budget. And my philosophy was, this is my wedding, ONLY WEDDING, and this is the way I want it. Maybe you can stick to your budget better then I can, but good luck!

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Budget Tips

  • Use credit card points or miles to pay for airfare

  • Begin to save money when you get engaged

  • Buy used decorations and or DIY whatever you can and bring it with you


Vendors are a huge part of your budgeting plan. One thing I loved about the destination planning was that the coordinator gave me a list of 3 vendors for each category that they recommended and have worked with before. It made things so much less stressful when I only have a few options and select one. Here in the states, we know so many people who can recommend who they used and there are SO MANY OPTIONS! It took me a few hours to make a decision instead of a few days or weeks. I am a planner but also don’t make decisions very well, so this is one thing I just didn’t want to dwell on and it made things so much easier in the end. I still got to make my own decision, but didn’t get stuck looking into and consulting with all these different vendors. Sometimes you just have to cross your fingers and hope everyone shows up and does their job well. And of course, you can always do your own research and pick a vendor you think will work best for your wedding and vision.

When bringing your own vendors, you know what you are getting. The most important vendors to me were obvious photography and videography. And I knew form the beginning that I wanted to bring mine with me and not just pick someone there. I know with weddings being to popular in tropical destinations, Im sure there are amazing photographers there, I just didn’t want to chance it with my love for photography. Most venues also include a wedding photographer, but usually that is only for the ceremony and they don’t capture the rest of the day (like I would if you hired me!).

When working with vendors from out of the country, make sure you put everything in writing and make sure they understand exactly what you want. I even drew pictures to make sure they understood exactly what I wanted to avoid any issues due to communication error. I did all my communication via email so there wouldn’t be any confusion over the phone. Everyone I worked with responded very quickly and made sure to answer any questions I might have had.

My Vendors - Cabo San Lucas

Vendors I brought with me

I honestly couldn’t have been happier with all of my vendors. They all were amazing and went above and beyond my expectations.

Next step, I mean, topic is the fun part, planning the wedding and all the details!!