How Much Is a Destination Wedding? Destination Wedding Cost Breakdown

By Upstart Content Team | Updated August 5, 2022
reading time 4 min read
A newly married couple climbs the stairs outside of a destination wedding venue

Key takeaways: 

  • The average cost of a destination wedding is $32,000.
  • Destination wedding costs vary widely based on location, the number of guests, food, and decor.
  • Wedding loans, personal lines of credit (PLOCs), and credit cards can help cover the cost of a destination wedding.

Whether you’ve dreamed of a simple ceremony on a nearby beach or an elegant event overseas, planning a destination wedding adds a touch of adventure and romance to your big day. Still, planning isn’t necessarily the most difficult part. Rather, paying for it can become challenging—especially if you’re unaware of the costs involved with a destination wedding.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the average cost of a destination wedding and discuss the factors that impact your costs, plus budget-friendly ways to finance your big day.

What is a destination wedding?

By definition, a destination wedding is one hosted outside of your hometown. Although most people envision far-away locations, a destination wedding may take place at a couple’s favorite vacation spot, a city both partners love to visit, or a tropical destination halfway around the world.

What is the average cost of a destination wedding?

According to a 2019 survey by WeddingWire, the average cost for a destination wedding is about $32,000. Keep in mind, this average may not cover engagement extras, such as the cost of an engagement ring. It’s also important to remember the number is a national average and may vary based on numerous factors, which we’ll get into shortly.

Destination wedding cost vs. local wedding cost

Local and destination wedding budgets are surprisingly similar. The WeddingWire survey found the average destination wedding cost roughly $3,400 more than a local wedding. 

However, the average cost for a wedding can increase or decrease dramatically based on the number of guests, and this is no different for a destination wedding. 

What to consider when planning a destination wedding

Planning a destination wedding comes with many of the same costs as a local wedding. You’ll need invitations, attire, rings, a photographer, and a wedding venue. You’ll also likely want to invest in some catering and reception entertainment, too.

That said, you’ll need to consider a few unusual expenses when planning a destination wedding. Let’s look at some of the factors to consider when determining your destination wedding budget:

Location

As you can likely guess, the location you choose—and its distance from where you and your partner live—can have the largest impact on your budget. 

For example, choosing a location that requires flying will almost always be more expensive than a destination you can drive to. But if you’ve dreamed of a ceremony overlooking Lake Como or set on a beach in Jamaica, you’ll need to increase your budget to cover flights, accommodations, food, and other expenses.

Time of year

If possible, try to consider your desired destination’s busy season when setting your wedding date. If you plan your wedding during the off-season, you can avoid the crush of tourists.

Plus, you may be able to get better prices on airfare, accommodations, and even your venue.

Number of guests

The number of guests you invite to your wedding plays a pivotal role when setting your budget. As a general rule, plan to spend upwards of $200 per guest. Nationally, couples spend an average of $266 per guest, according to The Knot. 

Costs per guest may increase based on additional features, like:

  • An open bar
  • Group transportation
  • Sit-down dinners
  • Specialty foods, like gluten free or vegan dishes
  • Additional events, such as a rehearsal dinner or farewell brunch
  • Live entertainment

Travel and accommodations

You and your partner will likely need to cover your own airfare and accommodations. You may also decide to pay for all or part of your wedding party’s travel costs.

Wedding guests usually cover the cost of travel and hotels. Many guests will have additional expenses as well, like clothing and transportation.

You may consider adding extra meals or gatherings to your schedule to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for guests. Similarly, arranging group transportation from the hotel to the venue is an optional—but extremely considerate—touch.

Paying for a destination wedding: 3 ways to cover the cost of a destination wedding

Planning a destination wedding comes with unique challenges. For the most part, you’ll be planning your big day from afar (potentially with the help of a wedding planner). As a result, it may feel more challenging to keep track of costs.

With that in mind, consider the following ways to help manage the cost of a destination wedding:

  • Create a budget: Setting a budget is an important part of the wedding planning process. Consider factors like your desired location, the size of the guest list, and your preferred decor style. Most importantly, take some time to discuss your financial circumstances with your partner to ensure you’re not overextending yourselves financially.
  • Ask loved ones for help: You may consider asking loved ones to help pay for your wedding. Traditionally, the bride’s parents pay for most of the wedding. However, times—and traditions—have changed dramatically. With that in mind, you may decide to ask family members to contribute to one part of the wedding, like catering.
  • Consider wedding financing options: You may choose to finance your destination wedding costs. This may allow you to plan your wedding without draining your bank account. Some common options include credit cards, personal lines of credit (PLOCs), or wedding loans.A wedding loan is a type of unsecured personal loan used to cover costs related to your big day. After your loan gets approved, you’ll receive your desired amount in one lump sum. You can then use the funds to cover vendor deposits, book flights, or buy decor. 

Say “I do” to your dream wedding destination

Planning your wedding should be one of the most exciting times of your life, especially if you’re getting ready to say “I do” at your dream location. In reality, planning a destination wedding isn’t easy. Neither is paying for one.

Set yourself up for success by researching the factors that could affect the cost of your wedding. Work with your partner to establish a workable budget and priority list. 

Most importantly, learn more about your financing options, such as a personal loan, credit card, or personal line of credit. That way, you can cover your costs while reducing the financial stress of a major life event.

This content is general in nature and is provided for informational purposes only. Upstart is not a financial advisor and does not offer financial planning services. This content may contain references to products and services offered through Upstart’s credit marketplace.

About the Author

Upstart Content Team

The Upstart Content Team shares industry insights, practical tips, and borrower success stories to help people better understand the important “money moments” of their lives.

More resources you may be interested in

Average Cost of an Engagement Ring in 2022
Wedding Etiquette: Who Pays for What In a Wedding?
Finances in Marriage: 10 Questions to Ask Before Tying the Knot

See if Upstart is right for you

Check your rate lock Won't affect your credit score¹

1. When you check your rate, we check your credit report. This initial (soft) inquiry will not affect your credit score. If you accept your rate and proceed with your application, we do another (hard) credit inquiry that will impact your credit score. If you take out a loan, repayment information may be reported to the credit bureaus.