The Hidden Costs of a Destination Wedding

When Ed and I got married in Santorini two years ago, there was no denying it wasn’t an incredible experience and one I wouldn’t change for the world, but something we hadn’t anticipated was how expensive getting married abroad would be.

As the cost of weddings in the UK rises higher and higher every year, it is easy to believe when people say that a destination wedding is a more affordable option, but it is important to know the hidden costs that are involved with a wedding in another country. These are some of the things that we discovered from getting married in Santorini.

Travel Costs

Obviously when you get married in a different country to your own, you need to travel there, and this will obviously be a cost you need to factor in. Although we knew this, I don’t think we were really prepared for the additional travel costs involved. We paid extra to sit together on the flight there and back as we didn’t want the stress of not being guaranteed seats in the same row on the day. We decided not to take a lot of things with us for the wedding itself, to keep luggage to a minimum, but if we had of wanted decorations etc with us, we would have had to add additional luggage costs.

The flights to Santorini weren’t released until a year after we booked the wedding, so by this point we were tied to the set dates of travel. As you aren’t able to be flexible with your travel dates, you may end up paying higher prices than expected. Not knowing the exact travel costs when you book your wedding can also be quite stressful. If you are booking further than a year out for your destination wedding, I would advise looking at the prices for the same time of year and putting aside a little extra in case prices increase. You will also need to consider costs that can be involved when travelling abroad, such as visas and vaccinations, which is not something we had to worry about, but would be relevant for other destinations.

Paperwork

Getting married abroad involves a lot of additional paperwork. As well as being fairly stressful (read incredibly stressful), this was a cost that we hadn’t banked on, as I was used to planning weddings in the UK as part of my job as an events coordinator. It was a bit of shock to the system when we had to come up with the money for the marriage license and the apostle stamp plus having the documents translated afterwards. Remember that different countries have different legal requirements, so it is always worth looking into the legalities in advance to make sure you don’t get caught short.

Flowers

Getting married in Santorini, which is an island, meant that flowers we wanted had to be shipped, which meant higher costs. We had originally decided to only have the flowers included in the package we had, but the day before we changed our mind as I was worried the bridesmaids would look odd without bouquets, and that the tables needed some additional decoration. This resulted in paying a fairly high fee. Make sure you do your research or talk to a wedding planner from the destination of your wedding to get a realistic idea of costs. Flowers out of season may not be available or may incur a high surcharge, so bear this in mind.

Transport

It wasn’t until we were on the island that we realised the logistics of getting our guests to and from the wedding in a place none of us were familiar with would be a bit of a challenge. In the end they shared a couple of minibus style taxis, but this is definitely something worth considering and, looking back, I would have liked to have budgeted for transport for the guests to make things a little less stressful on the day.

Photos and Videography

One of my only real regrets from the wedding was the photos that we have to look back on. Our photographer was the standard one included in the basic wedding package at our venue and he wasn’t brilliant. The photos are ok quality, but nothing amazing. If it weren’t for the incredible backdrop, they really wouldn’t be that good.

It was extremely expensive to book additional time or photographers, or to go with somebody else entirely, and we decided against it in the end, largely due to the wedding planner who we had so many issues with that I won’t go into it in this post.

This was a mistake. Your wedding photos are what you have to remember the day by as time goes by and your memories fade. We only have around 15 photos from our wedding, and although they are nice, I would love to have more. Always factor in the cost of a professional wedding photographer, and ask to see examples of their work before you commit. If they won’t provide this, book elsewhere! Photography can be expensive, but it is worth it.

General Holiday Costs

We went to Santorini for a week in total as we wanted to be there a few days before and a few days afterwards. In retrospect it would have been better to have gone for two weeks and to have had the wedding after a few days, giving us more time to relax and enjoy the holiday afterwards. Having a wedding abroad means you also need to factor in the costs involved with a normal holiday alongside the wedding costs.

We are a family of five, so we had to pay a higher fee for accommodation suitable for us, as well as needing to add on costs for food and drink throughout the week as the hotel was a bed and breakfast (all inclusive isn’t that popular in Santorini).

We also spent a fair amount of money on activities such as a boat ride, as it was a special holiday and we wanted to see the island and enjoy different experiences. Santorini is a fairly expensive destination, so it did end up costing more money than we had originally anticipated.

Costs for Guests

Obviously when you get married abroad, unless you have very deep pockets, you are going to be expecting your guests to pay out quite a lot to attend as well. We tried to include as much as we could afford to for our guests in the wedding package we had, but they did still need to pay for their accommodation, travel and all other costs associated with a week in Santorini. We are really grateful to our friends and family for coming along to celebrate with us but there were some people who simply couldn’t afford to join us, and it is something you should consider before booking a wedding abroad.

Did you get married abroad? Were there any additional costs you weren’t aware of beforehand? 

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