Bride Hacks

How to plan a destination wedding on a budget

If your dream is to get married abroad, you might think it's impossible to plan a destination wedding on a budget. Well guess what? There are lots of ways of saving money when planning a destination wedding, for one thing you won't need to fork out for a honeymoon! We spoke to a bride who got married abroad, a destination wedding planner and a celebrant who gave us their tips on how to plan a destination wedding on a budget. 

Our experts

Real Bride – Roben got married to Craig in the beautiful mountain village of Deia, Mallorca. They had an outdoor ceremony and reception in the grounds of a converted monastery with loads of DIY elements. 

Wedding Planner – Gemma Auerlius is the owner of My Lake Como Wedding and has been organising weddings in the beautiful Italian lakes for over 7 years.

Celebrant – Elizabeth Cass-Kanti is a wedding celebrant who performs ceremonies all over Greece.

Let your surroundings do the talking

The great thing about getting married in a stunning, sunny location is that you shouldn’t need much decoration. Roben – “We really kept decor to a minimum and let the setting do the talking. Our venue was set amongst ancient olive groves and I wanted to incorporate these into the wedding, so (with permission) we harvested olive branches and combined these with flowers from the local market to make the bouquets, adding candles for the table decorations. 

Photo by Made in Video

Prioritise your day

Roben – “Our budget was fairly tight so we chose the things that were most important to us and prioritised our budget accordingly. Catering, music and of course, the location were our top priorities. We stripped everything else back and kept it simple, allowing us to have our dream wedding without breaking the bank. We didn’t bother with a wedding cake, we made our own bouquets and we didn’t hire a dancefloor – and none of these things were missed on the day!”

Photo by Elizabeth Cass-Kanti

Hire a villa

Elizabeth – “If you are having a small wedding (up to about 60 guests or less for example) look at staying in a villa. This way you get ceremony and reception venue at little or no extra cost to your accommodation.  This works really well if you have small children as they can be put to bed when they’ve had enough and you can continue to enjoy the evening!”

Photo by Elizabeth Cass-Kanti

say yes to the (bridesmaids) dress!

Roben – “One way I saved money was my dress. I wanted something simple and ethereal to fit the setting and the warm weather. All the dresses I was trying just felt much too heavy and fussy for our style of wedding. Then by chance my mum came across a Dessy bridesmaid dress which was the exact style that I wanted. I ordered it in ivory for the fraction of the price of a ‘real’ wedding dress. I then dressed it up with a floor length veil, sequined sash and grecian style headdress.”

Photo by Made in Video

Save time by going direct to an expert

Gemma – “Save both time and energy by speaking with a professional wedding planner from the offset. There is a lot of information online these days but reading pages and pages of information and looking at too many forum sites will soon become either overwhelming, boring or may cause more confusion.

You may also want to ask yourself is the information online current and correct. A wedding planner will provide you with everything you need from the offset, and importantly the info will be specific to your requirements, eliminating any unwanted stress and strains. Using a wedding planner who is a specialist in a particular location will definitely save you time and even any expensive mistakes.”

destination wedding on a budget
Photo by Dominique Bader

Be clear on your vision

Gemma – “Prepare an initial vision for your wedding, and include information such your preferred wedding date, estimated wedding size, the type of ceremony you want to experience (legally recognised or a simple blessing), available wedding budget, and importantly those fine and dreamy details. Then research a local wedding planner that you initially like the look of and send this vision to them with details about yourself. This way the wedding planner knowns that you are a serious inquiring couple with an initial clear and exciting vision of your special day, and with this information the wedding planner will be able to provide you with information and estimated costs based on your initial requirements.”

Photo by Made in Video

Visit the area

Elizabeth – “Have you been to your dream destination before? Don’t be enticed by the photos, go there and see it for yourself. Ideally go at the time of year you are intending to get married so you can see how busy it is, what the weather is likely to be and use this opportunity to meet up with some local suppliers or a wedding planner and your friendly local Celebrant!”

Photo by Made in Video

Wedding planners get preferential rates

Gemma – “Working with a wedding planner is a great way of assuring that you not only receive the very best products and services available, but also receive very competitive prices. This is generally because wedding venues and vendors reward wedding planners with preferential rates for being loyal to them, which they then generally pass directly on to the inquiring couples.” 

Tables decorated with roses by Lake Como wedding planner Gemma Aurelius
Photo by Gemma Aurelius

Re-use & recycle

Gemma – “Recycling wedding day decorations and flower arrangements is another great way to save money, and instead of having compositions made for each area have them designed so that they can be moved and re used in other areas of the wedding venue.” 

White flowers in vase - Mallorcan wedding
Photo by Made in Video

Honeymoon sorted 

Elizabeth – “Choosing a destination wedding is a money saving tip in itself, especially on shorter haul destinations in Europe. You’ve sorted your honeymoon out for one thing. Just be sure to spend the money where it counts, no one will remember what colour chair bows you had.  Just sayin!”

Final words of advice….

  • Are their important people in your life and family whose presence at your ceremony is a deal breaker? If Grandma Jean can’t walk unaided, then your dream of a mountain top wedding needs to be tweaked (or at least brought down the mountain). Accessibility for your most important guests needs to be considered. This also ties in with can they afford to come/can they get the time off work etc.
  • Choose wedding attire that suits the climate of your destination! It’s painful to watch grooms succumb to heat stroke in 3 piece suits under a 40-degree sun…
  • Can you meet the legal requirements to marry in your destination of choice? Speak to a professional to make sure and do some checking yourself on the internet (and in those forums!) And if you can’t meet them or would prefer the legal registration of your marriage to be done in your country of residence then do just that and have a Celebrant perform your wedding ceremony


Are you planning on getting married abroad? Join the conversation over on our Facebook group for REAL brides to be!

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how to plan a destination wedding on a budget
Photo by Matt Grainger


Gaia Hudson

Written by gaia_bkir

Founder of Brides Keeping it Real and mum of two little ones, Leon & Ada. Passionate about providing a supportive online community for brides and grooms who want an achievable, uncomplicated wedding planning experience.