Let’s face it, whether you are on a tight budget or not, financing is a key topic when planning your dream wedding. Naturally, throwing a beautiful destination wedding raises the question of funding for all of your guests, between travel and accommodation expenses and any other finances necessary which is even more so the case when you are dealing with larger wedding parties. Of course, you want to ensure that all of your guests are able to make it for your big day, but you do not want to have to sacrifice your dream wedding to make it happen... and you don’t have to! Here are a few money saving tips for your wedding in the Abacos.
1. Timing: Be Flexible with Your Dates
Perhaps you prefer to host your big day in the Bahamas during the Summer months because it is generally warmer and the weather is nicer, but honestly, there is no “bad” time of year to have your wedding if you are looking at it from a weather standpoint. You can throw a wedding that is beautiful and memorable at any time of the year and what month you choose to do so can certainly make a difference in the financial aspect. Not only are flights cheaper, but many resorts and hotels offer discounted off season rates to guests and some even offer discounted rates to wedding parties over a certain size. Choosing not to get married during the peak tourist seasons, especially Summer, can help save you on both travel and accommodation expenses.
2. Keep it Local
Not only does opting to keep as much of your planning local, such as food and flowers because it ensures freshness, but it can also make a big difference in the financial department. By purchasing as much as you can locally in Abaco for your wedding you avoid heavy taxing and importation fees. You also avoid risk of loss or damage to your goods. If you are hosting your wedding at a venue such as a local resort, stick to purchasing your drinks directly through them. This saves you on the cost of having drinks brought in and also on having to pay the corkage fees. Another major one is using local, signature wedding favors. For example, locally made soaps or candles, or a small jar of locally made jam or a bottle of local hot sauce. These are fun favors that will also give them a unique taste of the Abacos.
3. Utilize Natural Beauty
Choose a location that is already beautiful as is so you don’t have to cover it in additional decorations. A major benefit of a wedding in the Abacos is the endless natural beauty you are surrounded by. For example, if you are hosting a beach ceremony, there is no need to go over board with the decorations, take advantage of the beauty that is already there and incorporate as much of it into your decorating scheme as possible. There is no need for elaborate decorating when throwing a classic island wedding, especially if you are trying to squeeze that extra buck. Simplicity is perfection here.
4. Hire a Wedding Planner
As a wedding planner, she will want to ensure that you save as much as possible because she understands the goals and vision of her clients. Many people choose to hire a planner because they know she has the right connections to help score budget deals. On the other hand, choosing to plan your wedding strictly through your resort venue, many might think it would be cheaper because you are paying one entity, but the goal of the resort is to make as much money off of you as possible. There is also a fee for the use of their on site planner and many charge based on commission, add that to your already high cost and it can actually add up to a hefty bill. By allowing a planner to take on the planning aspects, she can save you money in the long run.
5. Look for the Best Travel Deals
Research various travel sites to find the lowest possible prices on airfare. Also, some airlines such as Delta, Continental and American Airlines, have specially designed packages for those hosting a wedding abroad and this can save both you and your guests on travel expenses. However, a package might not be what you want if you do no want or need everything that it includes and in this case it is probably better to price out airfare and accommodation separately. Choosing to fly direct can also save you on having to pay for any extra flights.
6. Create a Honeymoon Registry
Creating a Honeymoon Registry can put a lot of money back into your pocket. Your friends and family can help pay for the funding of your trip.
7. Shorten your Guest List
A shorter guest list will save you tons on your destination wedding. Less people means less food, drinks, smaller cake, etc. and this means less spending. Keep the affair more personal and intimate with just close relatives and friends.
8. Substitute flowers… or Just Use Less
Sticking to available, local flora as opposed to heavily taxed, expensive imported flowers that can add a lot to your budget, while they are beautiful, aren’t necessary. You can be creative and think of unique and inventive ways to decorate your venue. For example, if you are hosting a beach wedding, consider opting to incorporate shells and sand in your decorating scheme. These are inexpensive and unique ways to decorate. Or, you can still use a few flowers here and there and incorporate some greenery and mix it up with other decorating options, such as candles as well.
9. Substitute Whatever you can for Cheaper Options
Substitution is major when thinking about how to cut budget costs. For example, in season, there is a high demand for Bahamian Lobster and it is extremely expensive. Unless you are having a small, intimate gathering, I would either recommend substituting for a cheaper option or maybe having a combination of food items available. Including chicken, fish or even offering select vegetarian dishes can add variety and save you a few bucks. Chances are all of your guests won’t eat all of the same things anyways. Also, substitute expensive top shelf liquor for suitable house liquor instead and have a limited bar with a select few signature drinks.
10. Use Your iPod
Instead of hiring a band or DJ, there is always the much cheaper option of using your iPod. You can either create and set lengthy playlists or have someone be in charge of switching the playlists at appropriate times.
11. Check the Racks for Big Deals
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a wedding dress for it to be lovely and presentable. Expensive is not always better. You can consider buying a dress from a few seasons ago or a stunning formal dress instead of a traditional wedding gown. There is absolutely no need to go all out on spending on a wedding dress that you are only going to wear once. Especially for a island wedding where, chances are, you are going to be outdoors and near the sand and saltwater and risk the chance of staining it. Again, this is where creativity and inventive thinking come into play.
12. Consider a Partial Buyout
If renting out an entire resort is not within your budget, ask about the possibility of only renting out a part of the property instead. This way you have your privacy without having to pay for renting out the entire resort.
13. Choose a Location that Doesn’t Require Tenting
Tenting your event can take a lot out of your budget. Think about the cost of material, transportation cost, decorating, lighting and flooring and anything else that may be needed. It is cheaper and easier to stick to a venue that is already there and doesn’t require tenting. It is also important to have a covered area as a backup in the case of possible inclement weather.
14. Get Married Beforehand at Your Local Courthouse
This can save you money on traveling to and from the local Registrar’s Office here in Abaco and paying the fees which are more costly here than in the States. On top of that you don’t have the worry of remembering and traveling with sensitive paperwork.
15. Hold Your Ceremony and Reception in One Spot
This will save you on the extra added cost for an additional location. It will also lessen the hassle of moving everyone from one location to another.
Order a small cake or a cake with only one real layer for the cake-cutting and pictures and have a larger sheet cake hidden for distribution as well. Limit your add-ons and decorating and skip exotic fruit flavors.
17. Ask and Negotiate
You would be surprised how many deals you can workout if you just ask! Try to negotiate deals on airfare and accommodations. Many airlines and resorts and hotels offer deals for wedding parties.