According to an annual survey by wedding planning site The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. now comes in at a whopping $35,329. This figure has been steadily rising over the decade that the site has been completing the study, clearly showing that people are willing to splash out more and more for their dream day. However, having your fairy tale wedding doesn’t necessarily have to come with a make-believe price tag. (See also: People Are Still Spending Too Much on Their Weddings)
Incorporate the honeymoon into the wedding
By honeymooning in the same destination that you’re getting married, you can combine the two costs rather than paying for a separate trip. The honeymoon can be one of the most expensive parts of getting married, but this way you’re already in your desired location, so there are no extra travel costs.
If you’re concerned about the prospect of your family and friends being present for your honeymoon, then consider switching hotels once you’ve said “I do.” On the other hand, for some people, having loved ones there for the entire occasion may be a bonus.
Fewer guests mean lower costs
There’s a good chance having your wedding abroad will automatically cull the guest list for you, and probably quite drastically. While it’s common for weddings in the U.S. to top 100 guests, no matter how popular you are, your overseas celebration is unlikely to attract those numbers.
Lots of people who may ordinarily expect to attend simply won’t be able to take the time off work or be willing to pay to travel that far away. This is a deal breaker for some brides and grooms, but for others, it’s a welcome way to organically trim the guest list and, therefore, expenses.
Check out shoulder season
Traveling during peak season costs more money, and exactly the same applies for weddings, so it’s best to avoid it. However, off-peak times in popular destinations usually coincide with poor weather, and the last thing you want is for your dream beach wedding to be interrupted by wind and rain.
A great solution is to have your wedding during the shoulder season. This is the period that falls between the lousy weather and peak season, so you get the bonus of both decent weather and fewer crowds. It also means that costs will be lower for both you and your guests. (See also: The Best Times of Year to Travel Anywhere)
Choose a weekday
Guests who are able to attend your overseas wedding will more than likely be planning to spend a few days, or potentially a week or more in your chosen destination. This means that having your wedding on a weekday is unlikely to further affect their ability to be present.
As in the U.S., in most other countries Saturday is the most popular day to get married, and therefore the most costly. If you can avoid tying the knot on the weekend then you’re going to see costs come down dramatically.
Redeem travel rewards
With all the big-ticket items you’ll be buying for the wedding, now is the perfect time to get started with travel rewards credit cards. Start planning this as soon as possible because it will take you a while to accumulate enough travel rewards to make a significant difference in your wedding costs. If you’re not already collecting travel rewards, then your first step will be to choose the right credit card for you.
Get married before the wedding
This may sound counterintuitive, but doing the legal part of the wedding before heading overseas could save you a lot of money, depending on where you plan on getting married. This is because each country has its own regulations and requirements you’ll have to fulfill before being allowed to complete the ceremony there, which can be expensive and time consuming.
Some countries require you to have been there for a fixed period of time before your ceremony, some require medical tests, and others have heaps of paperwork to complete. To save both the hassle and the expense you might encounter, the simplest option may be to have the official part of the ceremony completed in your home state.
Consider an all-inclusive wedding package
Though it can be cost effective to plan and book each detail of your wedding yourself separately, it’s definitely worth looking into all-inclusive wedding packages. They will include all aspects of the wedding for a flat rate, which may help you budget and will definitely save you time.
Resorts regularly have promotional packages available, particularly outside of peak season. You might be surprised at just how much you can save by considering an all-inclusive package.
Reduce decor costs
For many people, part of the reason for having an overseas wedding is incorporating a beautiful destination, the equivalent of which isn’t available at home. This could be a white sand beach, a magnificent mountain backdrop, or a stunning garden to hold the ceremony in.
One benefit of being surrounded by this natural beauty is that there’s no need to go over the top with extra decor, so strip it back and let the location do the talking. Traditional decorations are extremely costly to buy or even rent, and the cost of things like favors and gifts can really add up. (See also: How to Save Big on Everything for Your Wedding)