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Last updated: 7th April, 2021

personalfinance, wedding

12 practical ways to save money on your destination wedding

It’s starting to look like weddings might be back on the cards – both in the UK and internationally! As COVID-19 restrictions start to ease and travel corridors open once more, wedding excitement is in the air.

The picturesque seafront Chapel of Senhor da Pedra, Portugal

Weddings abroad can offer warm weather, bright sunshine and smaller price tags. While the average wedding in the UK costs £30,355, a destination wedding could cost around £6,585. However, it’s important to know which countries have opened their doors to UK citizens – you don’t want to spend all that money and find out you still can’t travel there! Use the government’s travel corridors website to stay up to date on the UK’s travel corridors.

So, if you’ve rescheduled your wedding, are planning on hosting your reception in a warmer climate after getting legally married at your local office in the rain last year, or simply have just got engaged, read our tips on how to save money on your dream destination wedding.

1. Be smart about seasons

One of the many benefits of getting married abroad is the weather. Who doesn’t want guaranteed sunshine on their big day? Unfortunately, guaranteed sunshine comes at a premium wherever you choose to get married, because tourist season typically coincides with warm weather.

You can get around this by booking the ceremony during your destination’s ‘shoulder seasons’. These are the months just outside of the peak travel period when the weather may be less reliable, but the wedding venues and accommodation are cheaper. Just be sure to have a plan B in place in case the weather turns bad.

2. Avoid weekends

Midweek weddings are becoming more common as venues try to make the most of their facilities and savvy couples maximise their budgets.

At first glance, it might not seem that convenient, but you’re already asking your guests to travel to another country. They’re unlikely to mind if their flights and accommodation are cheaper midweek.

3. Timing is everything

You can also save money by veering away from tradition and booking a morning wedding followed by a celebratory lunch. Again, venues will welcome the additional booking, while your guests are likely to drink less at the reception, keeping your bar tab in check.

Views for miles: a wedding overlooking the sea on the Greek island of Santorini

4. The price is right

The best way to get a bargain on your flights and accommodation is to set up an automated price alert. Websites such as KAYAK and Skyscanner can send you email alerts when prices change, so you get the best deal on your travel arrangements. You might just have to hold your nerve waiting for the prices to drop. Jack’s Flight Club and Hitlist offer some of the best flight deals online, however they offer less precision in terms of destination.

You should also be mindful to use incognito browsing when looking at flight prices – the websites can use cookies to store information and know to increase the prices the more you look.

5. Bag it up

If you’re sending items to your international venue, such as a dress, food and drink or decorations, this can end up costing a lot. It’s important to remember that you may be charged fees and duties if sending your possessions to the EU following Brexit, or anywhere outside of the UK for that matter. Royal Mail estimates that it could cost as much as £220.55 to send a wedding dress weighing 3kg to Mexico. Based on this one quote, you can see how quickly shipping fees increase. Be prepared to cram as much into your suitcase as possible.

And, if possible, keep essential items in hand luggage, so you don’t lose them. Most airlines will allow you to take dresses and suits on board, providing they meet the baggage requirements. If your dress doesn’t fit in your hand luggage, you can often buy an extra seat for it on the plane. Although this is an additional cost, it could be cheaper than shipping and gives you complete peace of mind.

6. Bouquets and blooms

While it’s hard to pinpoint the international price of wedding flowers, in the UK, they often cost around £1,300. Thankfully, you can significantly reduce that figure by letting the scenery do the talking and skipping the venue decorations. After all, you’ve flown all that way, you should make the most of your surroundings. Consider just buying bouquets and buttonholes for key guests to keep costs under control. Bonus tip: select local, seasonal flowers so you avoid expensive delivery fees.

7. Sweet nothings

The wedding cake is a modern-day art form. And, like all good art forms, you can end up paying a pretty penny for a single item. In fact, according to MoneyAdviceService.co.uk, the average UK wedding cake costs £300. However, if you’re not too worried about having the most Instagram-able cake on social media, ask your caterers if they can supply it alongside the food. It might not be the dream three-tiered cake you imagined, but it’ll give you something to cut for the photos and you won’t have to worry about getting it home.

Spain is a popular location for destination weddings

8. Create your own playlist

Depending on your taste, a wedding band can easily set you back hundreds of pounds. In fact, according to research by Hitched.co.uk, wedding entertainment and music costs £1,014 on average. You could reduce that figure by only having live music at the ceremony, or by broadcasting a Spotify playlist over your venue’s PA system. With a basic subscription fee of £9.99 per month, Spotify could save you more than £1,000!

9. Go all-inclusive

Don’t dismiss this point too quickly; all-inclusive resorts make your life easier. Most of the time, you’ll get a set price for the entire wedding package, including the flowers, the cake and the photographer – and the venue is likely to have someone experienced in managing events throughout the year. Make the most of their relationships with local suppliers to bag a bargain. Plus, paying the cost of your wedding to one venue or supplier can simplify the whole process – a lot more convenient than making multiple payments!

10. Invest in insurance

Travel and wedding insurance is always important – but with so many international trips being cancelled in 2020, it now seems more crucial than ever. Ensure you insure your flight tickets, accommodation and, of course, the big day itself! You should also encourage your guests to do the same.

Be sure to read the T&Cs, as different policies will insure different things. For example, not every policy will cover you not being able to leave the country due to travel restrictions.

11. Cut the red tape

Paperwork is one of the biggest concerns around any destination wedding – there are often extra costs associated with it. If you’re getting hitched in Italy, for instance, you need a solicitor to draw up documents to prove you are legally free to marry. Plus, some non-English-speaking countries require a translator to be present during the ceremony, while others request that you have been in the country for several days before the wedding.

The easiest way to avoid all of that is to get married at your local register office in the UK, then hold a symbolic ceremony abroad. Not only will you save money, but you’ll definitely be married when you get home!

12. Avoid commission charges

Of course, everything you buy abroad will be paid for in the local currency. If you put it on a card, you may be charged with a non-sterling transaction fee of around 3%, as well as a purchase fee in the region of £1.50 per transaction. What does that mean? If the average wedding costs £31,974, this quickly becomes £32,933 – without adding any purchase fees and currency fluctuations into the mix.

Using PagoFX to pay for your wedding expenses removes those unnecessary costs. You only pay a small fee on top of your exchange, rather than a commission and purchase fee, potentially saving thousands of pounds on your destination wedding. PagoFX is a transparent and effortless way for everyone to send money abroad at a lower price, backed by the security of a highly trusted bank like Santander.

Download PagoFX for free on the App Store or Google Play, currently available in the UK, Spain and Belgium.

This article is provided as general information purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topic. We recommend that you take professional and specialised advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the content of this publication, as this article is not intended to constitute expert advice. We do not guarantee, explicitly or implicitly, that the content of this article is accurate, complete or up-to-date. The information in this article does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from PagoFX or its affiliates.