How Guests Attending Destination Weddings Can Cut Costs

Bride throwing the bouquet at wedding.
Rawpixel / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Wedding season is upon us and while it’s a time of making beautiful memories, it’s also a time of spending absurd amounts of money — especially if you’re attending a destination wedding. According to a recent survey by Affirm, the average person will spend up to $3,000 on each wedding they attend this year. 

It’s depressing but not surprising if you’re boarding a plane and heading to a remote locale to witness your loved ones say “I do.” 

Rest assured knowing that at least you’re not alone in feeling like you’ve been flung into a money pit. 

“Attending a destination wedding, especially internationally, can be a financial burden to many guests,” said Jen Avey, VP of marketing at Destination Weddings Travel Group. “We’re seeing couples become extra conscious during their destination wedding planning process, to make sure their guests’ accommodations and airfare are as affordable and convenient as possible, and that the trip itself is worth it.”

Hopefully the happy couple you’re traveling to celebrate is doing everything they can to be sensitive to your budget — but even if so, there’s still some stuff you can do on your own to trim costs and save more when traveling to a destination wedding. 

Budget for Your Trip 

“Setting a budget will really help in the long run,” said Amber Sironen-Massey, owner of Epic Elopements. “Know how much you want to spend and stick with it. I find that using credit cards is most helpful. When you carry a lot of cash, it’s easier to spend and less easy to keep track. And, when you use your credit card you can set limits and collect the bonus points for future trips or items.” 

Make Your Money Work for You

Choose Your Own Accommodation  

“Yes, part of the fun is staying at an all-inclusive resort with the group, but you can save if you stay elsewhere,” said Jason Wright of Paradise Weddings. “Resort accommodation can range between $150-450 per night per person so renting an AirBnB with your partner or even recruiting other guests to stay and split the costs can easily cut that $1400 average for accommodation by 50%.”

Get Accommodations With a Kitchen 

“For food, I often recommend that couples advise their guests on a budget to make sure their accommodation has kitchen facilities, even with a minimum of a microwave, refrigerator and sink,” said Samantha Bottomley of Best Events Co. “There are plenty of meals you can prepare to save costs on eating out.”

Sign Up for a New Travel Card 

“Consider opening credit cards with signing bonuses to get travel points,” said Dan Bagby of Honeymoon Always. “Be careful to pay them off immediately or this will end up costing you in interest. This can pay for the entire trip or for one aspect of it.” 

If Driving, Get a Gas Credit Card

“If your weddings will require more car travel then opt for a good gas credit card that will give you 3% to 5% in savings on gas purchased either at any gas station or at a certain gas station chain (depends on the card),” said Meredith Lepore, the Credello and a spoon-to-be bridesmaid at a destination wedding. “The best gas cards will have $0 annual fees. These cards can literally save you hundreds of dollars of gas per year which is incredible considering the current situation.” 

Make Your Money Work for You

Use Miles — Even If Only a Small Amount 

​​”Use your miles and points wherever possible, even if they don’t cover a full purchase,” said Becca Siegel, co-owner and blogger, “For our upcoming trip for a wedding abroad, we’ll be using credit card points to book the entire hotel (an alternative we found to the wedding hotel), which feels great!” 

Use Public Transportation at the Destination 

“If possible, make use of, and brave public transportation,” said Jeremy Hulls, senior editor at Family Destinations Guide. “If you’re traveling alone, it’s a no-brainer that you’re up for a lower transportation cost with this one. I know a lot of people who may be unwilling to do this, especially in non-English speaking countries. So do your research.”

Avoid Roaming Charges 

“If you’re traveling to a foreign country, be aware of the potential roaming charges you may incur,” said Tia Mula, wedding vendor, former bride-to-be and founder of the wedding and lifestyle blog LIVE & WED. “To avoid these charges, turn off data roaming on your phone and only use Wi-Fi. You can also purchase a local SIM card when you arrive at your destination. This will allow you to have a local phone number and avoid expensive roaming charges.”

Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

“If you’re attending a destination wedding abroad, make sure you have a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees,” Mula added. “These fees can add up quickly, so it’s best to avoid them if possible. If you do not have a fee-free credit card, make sure to exchange currency before traveling and avoid using foreign ATMs.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Use Sites and Apps To Nab Deals on Airfare 

“Milk apps and travel websites for what they’re worth. Sign up for notifications and alerts on say, Hopper or pages like HolidayPirates, Google Flights and The Flight Deal,” Hulls said. “Look for pages that offer travel guides. Use these apps and pages to compare ticket prices and receive alerts on possible price hikes. With this, you can cut costs with packages, ticket sales, deals and promos which sometimes don’t show up on airline sites.”  

Say No If You Can’t Afford It

“If attending a destination wedding is not in your budget, it’s perfectly acceptable to say no,” Mula said. “The most important thing is, to be honest with the bride and groom about your financial situation. They will likely understand and would rather you not attend if it means putting yourself in a difficult financial position.”

Consider Taking the Train or Bus (Instead of Flying) 

“If you’re traveling with others and don’t mind sharing space, the train or bus may be cheaper than flying,” said Janet Coleman, founder of The Consumer Mag. “Amtrak offers discounts for seniors, children under 12 and active military personnel on some routes; Greyhound offers discounts for seniors over 60 years old and veterans who have served in combat zones since 2001; both companies offer special fares for youth groups traveling together.”

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