There isn’t just one answer to the question of how much a destination wedding costs. So we’re giving you three.
Answer 1: $32,000
The average cost of a destination wedding is $32,000 for the ceremony and reception, according to a 2018 WeddingWire survey of recent newlyweds who self-selected that they held a destination wedding.
WeddingWire defines a destination wedding as “a location other than where you and your partner currently live and/or grew up.”
This average is $3,000 more than the average cost of a wedding ceremony and reception in general ($29,000), according to Lauren Goodson, director of insights at WeddingWire.
Answer 2: Less if you go overseas
But costs can vary even within the destination wedding category because there are so many destination options.
In fact, wedding website The Knot found that international destination weddings cost slightly less than those at domestic destinations.
According to The Knot’s 2016 Romance Travel Study, the average cost for domestic destination weddings is $28,372, and for international destination weddings, it’s $27,227.
This roughly $1,000 difference is likely indicative of a lower guest count at international ceremonies.
“If you’re getting married in, say, Mexico or the Bahamas or Italy, 150 people may not come just because that’s a far way to go for a lot of people,” says Ivy Jacobson, The Knot’s senior digital editor.
Answer 3: However much you choose
But regardless of where you host your destination wedding, it may not cost anywhere near the answers above. As unhelpful as it may sound, the cost of your destination wedding could be much lower — or higher — than these averages.
“I think it all comes down to a couple’s preferences and needs,” Goodson says. “There’s lots of … decision points along the way that can drive the overall total spend.”
As we mentioned above, the cost of your destination wedding will largely be determined by your guest count. So if you want to save money, consider trimming your guest list.
But keep an eye on your spending per guest, too. Goodson says some couples have fewer people in attendance at their destination wedding but end up spending more per guest to enhance their experience.
Goodson also points out other potential expenses to keep in mind as you create your wedding budget. For instance, will you pay for the hotel accommodations for your guests? Will you hire a local wedding planner to help with the day-to-day coordination?
Depending on your preferences, a destination wedding can really be as expensive, or inexpensive, as you make it.