How to have an affordable destination micro-wedding

Guest post by Angie Abbott
Photo by the author

A destination micro-wedding is simply a wedding away from home with 10 people or less as your witnesses. (And that can include in-state, for those who don’t want to fly.) Here are 8 tips for how to have one, and how to save money doing it!

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

This is the biggest decision you will make cost-wise. Think about where your money will go the farthest.

Your first decision is domestic vs international. You might be happy to learn an international destination micro wedding can actually end up being cheaper, even much cheaper than domestic. It automatically pulls the guest list way down which is what you need. The money you spend on an international plane ticket will pale in comparison to the cost of an American wedding reception with a healthy guest list anywhere.

Your second decision is which country. A wedding in most European countries, or even Costa Rica will cost you a lot more than one in the Dominican Republic, Southeast Asia, or Nicaragua. Put the adventure first, and your wedding moment second and your heart should lead you to the right choice and price point.

HONEYMOON

Let’s be real, you’ve probably been with this person a long time and there are no surprises at this point. So let your trip be your annual vacation, share it with your friends, and call it your honeymoon so your boss has to give you the time off.

LET YOUR SMALL GUESTLIST IN ON THE PLANNING

We didn’t want our friends to feel like our wedding was an “obligation vacation.” Our goal was to have an experience that our wedding party co-created with us and held as a dream vacation for themselves, with our wedding as a bonus. This is less about savings, and more just good etiquette.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AIRBNB!

Stay away from the resorts. The move here is to get a baller house with plenty of room for all of you and split the costs per person. Its like your own episode of Real World, all scrambling calling your bedrooms, swimming in your own pool, etc. Airbnb has a saved list function where you can create a trip list and throw properties on it. This helped us identify where we could get the best house in the best place for the least amount of money – for us that was Phuket, Thailand. We decided, #Phuketletsgetmarried

Check out our initial list of houses here: Around the World in 80 Infinity Pools

REHEARSAL DINNER

If this isn’t a moment you are invested in, you can totally skip it. But I love a dinner party so I took this as an opportunity.

Consider the following option: Since you have a baller crib and a tiny guest list, have a proper dinner party at your Airbnb and make the food yourselves.

You are only paying for the groceries, and you are probably splitting the costs with your housemates. It’s also a chance to let your friends who are wizards in the kitchen or badass drink mixers step-up and do what they love for the group as their contribution to your big day. Dress up if you want, have a friend take pics with their nice camera, light some candles, and make some toasts.

And remember: you don’t actually have to rehearse anything if you don’t want to. We didn’t.

VENUE:

This is the hardest part of planning an affordable destination microwedding wedding. If you can’t tour venues and meet with people how can you make this decision? I’m gonna ask you to take a deep breath and try to relax.

  • The whole point of getting married in a faraway place is to let the place be your production designer.
  • Avoid buying into a wedding package, think outside the box.
  • Show off the natural beauty of the destination.

We chose the beach at sunset. You just can’t go wrong. It was a public beach close to our villa that wasn’t over run with tourists. Since I don’t know the area, I asked my AIRBNB host to make a recommendation and he told me about the beach. My best man and I checked it out the morning of the wedding and decided it would work. (My recommendation here is to choose an AIRBNB where you can have the ceremony as a back-up.)

Don’t obsess over the ceremony, it’s only a moment. Just put the pieces together and let the moment unfold how it wants to. One of our wedding party got ordained and we signed all our paperwork stateside before we left. The ceremony in Thailand was symbolic, but let me tell you — that’s every ceremony unless you are literally signing your certificate on the stage.

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER

It’s worth it, you want to enjoy those pictures forever. Use Instagram hashtags to identify wedding photographers in your destination and hit them up for quotes.

Pro tip: In a budget-friendly location like the Dominican Republic or Thailand, photographers will offer good hourly rates — however hours add up. To save a bundle, only hire them for one hour. Have your camera happy friend document the getting ready and the reception, but save the photographer for the ceremony moment.

RECEPTION

One of the greatest cost savings for the micro-wedding savvy will be on your truncated reception. If you have 10 people or less you don’t have to do the whole expensive catered reception, you can just go to a restaurant together afterward.

It was important to me, to get to experience the dance party that goes with a traditional reception while avoiding the seating charts and centerpieces. But that might not be important to you, which will make it even easier.

I poured over Trip Adviser looking for restaurants nearby that had a nightclub element or dance halls that had a dinner option and I found it! (#research) We ended up at a place in Phuket Town called Ka Jok Se. I don’t have the word count here to fully describe it but I will say, it was pure magic, and all I had to do was make a reservation.

Remember the wedding is only a moment, take advantage of the opportunity to give yourself a thrill but don’t take it too seriously. The marriage is what really matters. Lock that shit down!

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