Destination weddings are a great way to make a memorable event even more special. Whether you want to get married where you first got engaged or someplace you've dreamt about since you were little, the destination is one of the most important aspects to consider when planning a wedding. However, destination weddings can also be a bit overwhelming.
From budgeting in otherwise unnecessary costs such as airfare to having to plan everything remotely and accommodating your guests' busy work schedule, you may realise that a destination wedding in a faraway location like Paris or Milan simply may not be feasible.
Luckily, there are some beautiful places that are affordable and easy to get to right in Singapore's backyard. Below, we discuss a few of these wedding venues as well as some tips to make your special event a bit easier on your wallet.
Consider Lesser-known Versions of Popular Tourist Locales
If you don't have an exact destination in mind yet, fear not: Southeast Asia is in no shortage of beautiful beach venues and flavorful cities. Furthermore, despite the popularity of many destinations in this region, it is possible to find many affordable hidden gems.
In fact, choosing a unique and less tourist-trodden venue can not only be more affordable, but it can also provide a unique experience that your guests will never forget—and make their extra spending and time off work worth it.
If you are worried about planning something in a location you are not too familiar with, you can rest easy knowing that resorts can also offer wedding planning services. These resort-based planning services will relinquish you from the guesswork of choosing a reputable local planner or spending extra money to send one from Singapore to your destination.
Some scenic locations to consider include Luang Prabang in Laos, Hoi An in Vietnam, Belitung in Indonesia and—for the couple who wants to avoid beaches altogether—Paro, Bhutan. You can consider Belitung as a great affordable alternative to Bali and Lombok. On the other end of the spectrum, Paro will create a truly unique wedding Buddhist experience, with gorgeous views of the Himalayas and many historical sites.
Regardless of what style ceremony you are going for, there are plenty of destinations outside of the popular wedding hotspots that provide a high quality experience and beautiful venues, so you shouldn't be afraid of broadening your search to up and coming destinations.
Choose an Off-Peak Season Wedding Date and Book Flights in Advance
If you have a particular location in mind but are flexible with the date of the ceremony, you can save around 20-35% off your venue rates and accommodations by booking your wedding as close as possible to your destination's shoulder or off-peak season.
This can end up saving you hundreds of dollars even though you may have to have an indoor venue backup plan in case of inclement weather. For even more savings, you should consider booking your flight around 3-6 months in advance.
This is especially beneficial for ASEAN region venues, since booking your flight 6 months in advance is 53% cheaper than booking your flight within one month of your wedding.
Utilise All Your Resources to Reduce the Cost of Airfare and Accommodations
You have plenty of resources right at your fingertips that can help save you hundreds of dollars on your wedding.
For example, you should check in with your credit card to see how much miles you've racked up buying all the things for your wedding. You may end up having enough to pay for the flight of a loved one who otherwise may not have been able to afford it or have enough to add an extra stop on your honeymoon.
Furthermore, your credit card may also have partnerships with travel booking sites like Expedia and Agoda, saving money on flights and accommodations for your honeymoon.
If you don't have a rewards card, you can find a reputable and experienced travel agent who has connections with hotels at your wedding destination. Their relationship with the hotels may score you a discount on rooms. You can also suggest that your guests book and travel in groups as some hotels, travel insurers and online travel agents offer group discounts of around 5-15%.
Approach Your Wedding Through a Minimalist Lens
It may be tempting to go all out on your wedding and invite everyone you've ever met and spend days making little knick knacks to give out to your guests. However, a destination wedding requires a bit more financial finesse and forethought. In fact, because you're going to be dealing with the hassle of travelling to your venue, you will have to think hard about who and what will be crucial for your ceremony.
Perhaps, you don't really need to invite that friend of a friend whom you exchanged words with once (that alone will save you a couple hundred dollars) and instead have an intimate wedding with only the people you truly care about. You can also consider skipping the party favours and extravagant decor. Afterall, the destination wedding is all about the location, the views and novel experiences.
Plan Ahead for Unexpected Costs
Destination weddings come with more risks than you would have had you stayed in Singapore. Just the flight can already wreak havoc with everything from missing luggage that contained your wedding dress to delayed flights that can make you miss your connection to your resort. However, you can alleviate some of potential losses by protecting yourself ahead of time.
For instance, some travel insurancepolicies will protect you not only from travel issues such as travel delays and lost baggage, but also from more wedding specific events such as the loss of ceremonial attire, the financial failure of your wedding service provider and even the personal liability of your guests (i.e. one of your guests breaks something or injures a third party).
Travel insurance will also be an invaluable asset if you are planning on traveling during the off-season, since it also covers deposits and cancelled flights in the event of an unfortunate natural disaster.
Sample of Travel Insurers That Provide Wedding-Related Coverage
Know What You Really Want
Whether you will be celebrating in Bali or in a remote mountain village, your wedding choices should ultimately be your own. If you stick to doing what makes you and your partner happy and you surround yourself with the people you care about, the money you spent will be an afterthought.
Nonetheless, it is important to do a cost benefit analysis of your wedding budget—if you believe you can save money somewhere, then you should do it and put those savings away towards something long-lasting such as a downpayment on a flat or towards your future family's savings.
This article was first published in Value Penguin Singapore.