Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to Plan a Destination Wedding on a Budget



So I wrote a post about 'Why you should have a destination Wedding' & now I think it's time to talk about how to do it. Most times when we think about destination weddings the word, "expensive" comes to mind. But if you really think about all the ways to save & get down to it, it's totally possible to have one & keep your first born son. So tell him to stop hiding, its safe to come out from under the table.

I'll also note that for some, money isn't an issue, which is awesome & again make sure to send me an email & hire me for that fabulous Wedding you're planning. But even still there are your guests to consider. Make sure as you plan the Wedding that it is feasible for important people to attend.

There are so many beautiful locations & options when planning a destination Wedding. Start by making a list & narrowing down some places you've always want to go or maybe somewhere you've been that you loved & want to revisit.  The hardest & one of the most important things after deciding on a place is picking the date. When you have your Wedding can really impact your day. I have lots of Bride's who book in Aug & Sept I swear one of us is going to pass out from heat stroke every Wedding Im just waiting for it. Make sure you pay attention to what the weather like wherever it is you're wanting to go. For example...if it's monsoon season that might put a damper on your Wedding, pun intended. So without further ado get to planning & here's some

Tips for Guests:

1. Consider the time of year you plan your wedding  

Let's call it their 'fiscal calendar'. If you plan a Wedding just before Christmas or back to school shopping you might find a lot of people are unable to attend. Back to school shopping with multiple children can get expensive & Christmas is Christmas so you already know what's going on there. Try to pick a time of the year when people have more time & money to get away. Feb-May are usually the most inexpensive times to travel both because people have less expenses during these times but also because costs of travel are usually more affordable during the Spring.

2. Guests can't get time off or don't have the money

Give guests as much notice as possible so they have plenty of time to plan & make accommodations. I really don't know what would be appropriate here but someday when I have my Wedding in Mexico...I already know how some of my friend's are so I plan on giving everyone about a year & a month notice. That might be overkill but I feel like if they just took their yearly vacation when I tell them...they'll have a whole other year before my wedding, so they will have plenty of vacation time by then!

Tips for You:

1. If you're driving

Photo by Jose Villa
Download any of the hundreds of gas price apps to plan your stops. There's lots that will find the best gas prices & then plan your gas stops for you, which over a long drive can save you tons of money. Also make sure your car is getting the best gas mileage. There's some inexpensive things you can do to get better gas mileage like changing your filters out. Ask the hubster-to-be to get it done for you before you take off. Also whoever doesn't have the lead foot or dreams of Nascar should probably be the one to do most of the driving but that goes without saying right? Lastly, if you know you're going to be driving try to pick a time of year when gas prices aren't the same as gold. Summer would not be ideal for example since gas prices seem to double.

2. If your flying:

There's lots of little things you can do too. One is to start hoarding away frequent flyer or reward points towards your tickets. You can put a lot of your Wedding expenses on the card & then make sure whatever you spend you have the cash to pay it back off immediately! I used to be a credit counselor so I have to throw that in. Don't rack up credit card debt for your Wedding please. A $10,000 Wedding? I can only imagine what interest could end up like on that. But I regress....

So next is to do your homework. We all know about the trip comparison sites but most of us will only check one & then click the links from there & be done. Check out a few though before deciding. Bookingbuddy.com used to be one of the best ones for me everytime but lately I've found the best prices through Kayak.com.  I don't really understand how that all works but think of ot this way....they are a third party site generating leads for actual ticket sellers like Orbitz & Expedia. Then the actual airline has to get paid too! That's lots of hands grabbing money from that ticket sale. Last time I booked my flight to Vegas for example... I bought my ticket at the counter from the actual airline versus online & my ticket ended up about $100 less than my friend's just from that. This isn't the case with every airline but just try pricing it a few different ways to see what works.

Another huge saver on airline prices is where you take off & land from. Alot of people know this but I don't think realize how much of a difference it can make on the price. Pasco which is my closest airport is often much more expensive than flying out of Seattle or Portland which are 2 1/2 hours away. It's not always feasible to fly OUT of a major airport if you don't have someone to drop you off or somewhere to park your car but landing IS. Changing the airport you land in is much easier.  Mexico for example. I never fly into Manzanillo which doubles my ticket price & cost for a rental car when I get there. I always fly into Guadalajara or Puerto Vallarta which are large cities & then consider it my pre-funk. I'll land there & stay a night or rent a car & drive to Barra which is only a couple hours away. If you aren't renting a car bus tickets are super cheap but the ride will be much longer.

3. Be flexible with your dates when flying

Tues & Wed afternoon are usually the best times to shop for plane tickets. Prices are constantly fluctuating every week & day. Tues & Wed afternoon is when airlines typically discount tickets the most, maybe it's because people don't buy tickets as much during this time, I don't really know but I was told this by someone who worked for an airline & it does work. Flying red eye of course is another option we have all heard of  but also consider the day not just the time you fly. Flying mid week can save you lots of money too.  Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday are the best days to fly in & out of most places. Or head to your destination on the plane everyone just headed home in. The airline will want to fill those seats on the plane as it heads back so you can usually get tickets much cheaper. A great example of this is Vegas. Everyone fly's out Fri & comes back Sun.

Lastly on the airline tips is to sign up for email notices. AirfareWatchdog is one you can sign up with to get notices when prices drop & also a lot of the sites that compare prices will ask you if you want email notices when prices change for your destinations, say yes.

4. Book your wedding off season

It doesn't have to be off season for you but maybe it's the venues down time. Mexico is really slow in
Oct & Nov for example but it's a perfect time for your Wedding. It's getting cold most places here during that time & guests will be happy to get out of the states & enjoy some warm weather! If you're thinking of a Mountain Wedding book it at a Ski Resort during the summer. Since the winter season is their money making time they are more flexible in the summer with pricing & packages. Not all resorts stay open in the summer but many of them do for hikers & camping so check a few different places.

5. Get off the tourist trail 

Don't book a resort in Cancun or a cabin in Aspen & expect a deal. Find inspiring places that not many people know about. My best friend is getting married this coming summer on the coast. He found this tiny little town with the cutest church right on the beach. Since it's not a touristy town it was really easy to find good deals on beach houses to rent & negotiate pricing with the vendors. When we go we will literally take over the town I can't wait! How much more fun is that then getting lost in a big city?

Mexico has so many great little spots too, like Barra De Navidad, Jalisco where I grew up. It's a small town on the beach & it's tiny. You can rent a room there for $300 for a month if you wanted to & everything is super negotiable. It's also close to other large cities so you can go into the city for things to do with your guests if you wanted to.

6. Remember to pin & share if you liked the article. Email me about my special destination wedding rates! And comment if you have any tips or advice to add. 


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