Destination wedding anyone? HELP!!!

posted 3 years ago in Destination Weddings
Post # 3
Member
5295 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

@deannalg3: I had a destination wedding in Cuba last year May. It was an amazing time and I’m so glad we chose a destination wedding! We wanted a smaller wedding but actually had 70 people attend which was a really good turnout! We legally got married in Canada first then had a symbolic wedding at the resort with a whole bridal party. We had the reception in a private restaurant with a plated meal, cake cutting speeches, dancing and an open bar. It was a blast! We used the photographer at the resort and he did an awesome job! WE used a destination wedding travel agent who took care of al of the guest bookings for us and a few guests booked last minute to come. We were ableto do most of the planning through the agent for the wedding down there

Post # 4
Member
6812 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

I’m having a destination wedding in Punta Cana this June.

I did a TON of research and started planning about 2 years in advance – I don’t think you actually need that much time, but I just wanted to tell you that I really researched a lot.

Out of all the places in the Caribbean and Mx, Punta Cana and Cancun had the most affordable All Inclusives for your guests with the best amenities. Jamaica is more expensive. Punta Cana is actually a bit cheaper to fly to and I sometimes wish I had done Cancun, but FI and I and 99% of our guest list had never been to Punta Cana (but had been to Cancun) and that’s part of the reason we picked it.

Another reason is our venue – we’re having our wedding off-resort at an Italian restaurant started by 2 Italian men (brothers, maybe?) a few years ago. It got great reviews on trip advisor, but more importantly their wedding coordinator (Mayte) is fantastic. She handles everything for you and really cares about all her brides. The name of the restaurant is Jellyfish and a quick search in google will show you that a DW at this location is completely different from anywhere else.

Now, here’s what you need to realize – a DW is not necessarily cheaper than a wedding back home. There are some things that are cheaper (the DJ, the photographer sometimes, etc.), but there are things that are even more expensive (the food/alcohol, flowers). If you’re going to do your wedding on the resort, in order to get the food/alcohol to be included, you have to have your wedding dinner in a restaurant – they usually will section it off for you, but you’re doing it in the restaurant with other patrons. It’s not private, they will not block off the beach for your ceremony so you may have on lookers. And the deccor is sort of ridiculous – everything you want is extra for decor (for ex, $3 per chair for a sash, otherwise it’s undecorated – that stuff really adds up!). I really researched this a lot and thought that the cheapest way to have the most beautiful wedding was Jellyfish.

What usually makes a DW wedding cheaper is the fact that less people come and would be invited. It’s not just that things are “cheaper” overseas – in fact, some things are more expensive as I mentioned before.

Just an FYI – I researched almost every resort and every island before I decided on Punta Cana. I’m having my guests stay at the Paradisus Palma Real (it’s about $360/night per couple for the group rate). And I used Cherina Shaw from Boho Chic Travel as my travel agent – she is currently away at her own destination wedding (in Jamaica) and I would HIGHLY recommend using her, especially if you’re considering Jamaica.

We did consider Jamaica for a while, but the AIs are more expensive. She actually had other options for us – she said she could talk to smaller boutique hotel owners and get meal plans and the like. We decided it wasn’t for us because we wanted a large, luxurious AI bc we wanted to invite as many people and have as many or as little come without feeling the need to fill up a hotel or if we went over the max. We did consider Catcha Falling Star in Negril – we were going to book the entire resort for the wedding weekend so no one else would be there. It’s really beautiful and got great reviews on Trip Advisor, but we decided to save that for a future vacation for ourselves when we decide to go Negril. It was just too complicated.

Also, don’t be fooled that this will be “no fuss” – I mean, for the most part, everything is taken care of by your wedding coordinator (the issue being with the AI weddings is that everything is pretty cookie cutter – another reason I went with Jellyfish is Mayte and how unique every wedding is). But, I constantly have guests calling/texting me with all these questions – questions that are answered on my wedding website and can be found with a quick search by google or something, or by my travel agent, for some reason, they would prefer to just ask me. It’s been a bit annoying, I’ve even researched airfare for my guests for several weeks before some of them booked!

And my invites aren’t out yet – so this is just from people who received a STD (I did really cute luggage tag STDs) and have already booked.

Ask me any more questions you may have – I can help you out!!

Post # 5
Member
419 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

@futuremrsk18:  Can you elaborate on how many people are invited, what your budget is, and what guests you are paying for (i.e. are you paying for lodging for your parents, etc.)?

That would be super helpful information. 

Post # 6
Member
6812 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

@BrownPlaidBook:  I am not paying for anyone’s lodging, however, as part of our group rate, with every 10 rooms we book, we get 1 room free (for 3 nights – which is the minimum to get the group rate anyway).

We are looking at approx 35-50 people coming, we’re inviting about 60-80 (there are a bunch of people I have to send invites to that I already know said no, so really about 60 people who either said yes or maybe or nothing yet). Since invites haven’t gone out yet, not everyone has booked and we still have a bunch of people who have said yes, but haven’t actually booked, so I’m not sure how many people we’ll have. I’m hoping for less, honestly – bc obviously, less people = less expensive.

I’ve budgeted approx $15-20k. The biggest expense right now is food/alcohol – which we’re looking at close to about $125/per person plus tax and tip (18% tax), but that’s for the lobster and steak option, which is the most expensive option, and unlim beer/wine/soda/bottled water with dinner for 2 hours plus open bar for another 2 hrs during dancing. Everything else is much cheaper – decor is about $1500, photog/video depends on who you go with, can be anywhere from $1000-ish for both to closer to $4k, DJ is $700 I believe for the whole night with an MC, flowers are extra, depending on how many bouquets I want and how much I want in my decor, looking at prob another $500 here since I don’t care for a lot of fresh flowers – I can send you the price list for the Jellyfish, it’s the 2013 price list, but I’m sure the prices won’t change that much.

Post # 8
Member
62 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@deannalg3:  I am in the middle of planning my DW in Negril, Jamaica.  We did not want to have our wedding at a big AI (such as RIU, Sandals, etc) because we were looking for something more intimate.  After months of research, we chose Moon dance cliffs in Negril.  We have booked the entire hotel with our guests (sleeps 63 people) and could not be more excited!  I am not sure if this would be something you are looking for, but feel free to ask questions if you are interested in a smaller AI resort. 

Post # 10
Member
6812 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

@deannalg3:  send me your email via PM

Also…just word of advice, do your best to think in advance of people’s schedules (bust time at work, school vacations, etc.) But do not ask people while you’re planning except for the most important (families, bridal party). I made this mistake and it cost me a whole lot of aggravation and a friend and ultimately, it’s your wedding. Do what you want and those who want to be there, will come. Trust me. I invited some people assuming they wouldn’t be able to come, but they had invited me to their weddings, and they’ve already booked and my invites haven’t gone out yet. I choose to do it during summer break, right after the schools let out in NY to accommodate my teacher friends, people with kids in school, etc. Everyone else has to take time off regardless. Most people are taking this opportunity to turn it into a vacation and are staying 5+ days, despite my thinking it might be too expensive and people are even upgrading. I’ve only had 1 or 2 people complain about the cost. Bottom line..those who want to be there will. Do what you want, don’t ask people until it’s already booked.

Post # 11
Member
21 posts
Newbee

I’m doing mine in Turks and Caicos at an intimate resort (not AI) in October 2014. There are 50 people going and the total cost including Ceremony, DJ for 5 Hours, Photography for 2.5 hours, food, 5 hour open bar, staff fees, bartender fees, chairs, tables, 2 tents, and a bonfire for a total of $10,400. I’m so pleased with the staff, caterers, hotel coordinator, etc. Let me know if you’d like more information. Just keep in mind, like others have said, check on the dates with your immediate family and close friends, and anyone else will just have to work around that. The summer and fall are the most economical for a DW. Our guests are booking through Cheapcarribean.com for the best flight and hotel package. Good luck!

Post # 12
Member
36 posts
Newbee

@futuremrsk18:  Wow your event sounds like its going to be amazing! Do you have everything booked and set up by now? Or do you find there are more last minute things to deal with being a destination wedding?

@deannalg3:  I really hope that your wedding is amazing! Its tough to make that decision to a destination vs at home but if I were to do it all again, I would spend the same amount but do a destinaiton. Less people but more special and more amazing. 

Post # 13
Member
6812 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

@Hb7503:  Well, pretty much everything is booked. The venue (which will include the baker for the cake, the florist, the DJ/MC, and it’s a restaurant so the food and alcohol) is booked already. But all the little details like my colors, what type of flowers, how I want my cake to look, what flavor cake, which menu, which alcohol options, etc. those all get done within the last month and the menu/cake/alcohol actually get finalized 2 days before the wedding. Separately, I’ve already booked my officiant, photographer, videographer, hair and makeup ladies.. hrm, I think that’s it. There are still things I need to do – forms to fill out, decisions to make (how I want my ceremony worded, for eg) but pretty much I’ve signed almost every contract and made deposits on almost all my vendors that I need to. There’s still a lot left to be done (groomsmen attire, invites, picking all the details, etc.), but I do think I had an easier time planning this than my friends did planning their domestic weddings. I remember helping my friend plan hers and we were literally discussing things almost every day and she had multiple vendor appointments before she made any decisions, etc.

Post # 15
Member
910 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Sounds like you are picking a beautiful spot for your wedding! I loved Punta Cana.

My biggest bit of advice is: 

Pick the day that works for you (and maybe your immediate family). Don’t expect everyone you are close to to be there, and try to understand if even close friends or family cannot come for financial reasons.

For example, There are only 2 people in the world I would go to a destination wedding for, and I am financially comfortable. I just don’t like taking a week of time to go on a vacation that I didn’t get to choose. That may be an extreme point of view, but it will hopefully at least help you understand where the No RSVP’s are coming from!

Focus most on you and your FI having an amazing time and enjoy the beautiful scenery while you are there!

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