As with all weddings, a destination affair requires careful financial planning. It is important to develop an early understanding of your budget (and its limits) in order to be best prepared for your day. When counseling couples on how to set their budget, I highlight the six key investments you will make as you plan your wedding: planner fees, venue, accommodations, food and beverage, permits, and other vendors
When you work with a planner, they are able to help you navigate the entire planning process, using their knowledge of the area and industry to help you find the perfect venue, vendors, and accommodations. Their expertise helps you work within your established budget to create your dream experience. Choosing to work with a planner is the first step in making smart budget decisions for your wedding and provides countless benefits that will allow you to enjoy planning for your wedding instead of stressing at every turn.
Photography by: Del Sol Photography
Many couples have a venue idea in mind, but when they find out the price tag, their hearts drop. One of the biggest influencers on your budget, couples must consider both the location of their wedding as well as the type of venue that is best suited for their intended design. Depending on their preferred aesthetic, they can select from traditional villas, bohemian beach resorts, or modern, black-tie-appropriate spaces.
While the type of venue is important to your budget, the specific location you choose in the Riviera Maya can make a bigger impact on the cost of your space.
Growing increasingly more popular year after year, the cost of getting married in Tulum has risen with the demand. Now one of the top trending tourist destinations in the world, prices have increased dramatically. In other words, Tulum is not cheap. Choosing to marry in this rustic location requires a couple to be comfortable with a larger spend, especially if you want to be right on the beach. The off-the-beaten-path location means modern conveniences are a touch more scarce and couples are often required to bring in generators and other assistance devices to ensure the day moves seamlessly. Business owners are capitalizing on the high volume of requests for venue and space reservations and couples can expect costs to average between $350 and $400 per person. In addition, accommodations average $350 per night.
Playa del Carmen
While not quite as rustic as Tulum, the seaside town of Playa del Carmen is more connected to modern conveniences. With plenty of gorgeous venue options and costs per guest coming in between $150 and $250 per guest, couples find that the offerings in Playa Del Carmen allow them to do more with their finances. Moreover, lodging costs average $200 per night, making the location more affordable for guests.
Venue Only Options in Riviera Maya
Some couples capitalize on their budget by choose a venue only booking. This case is more similar to a domestic event where only the wedding venue is booked for the day. Lodging, transportation, and other costs are then incurred in addition to the wedding. Your guests will find and book their own lodging and there are plenty of options for affordable excursions, rehearsal dinner locations, and other experiences to allow your guests to enjoy their time in Mexico. Choosing to go this route can keep the cost of the wedding as low as $99 per person.
Venue Event Fees
Another financial factor related to venues that is often overlooked by couples when booking a destination wedding is the requirement to pay an event fee at the venue. Whether a restaurant, Villa, Hacienda, or hotel, you can expect to pay between $2,500 and $5,000 in order for the venue to be secure. In Tulum specifically, this cost can be as high as $10,000. The event fee guarantees privacy of your space and usually maintenance and cleaning staff. Often times, this fee is rolled into the per person charge, but it is important to know that it is part of your wedding cost.
After couples choose their preferred venue, they will then work on identifying options for accommodations for their guests. It is not common for the couple to cover accommodation costs for their guests, but it is recommended (and a great courtesy) that you talk with your guests to get an idea of their budget for your wedding and provide options that allow them to make the trip affordably. There are plenty of options throughout the Riviera Maya and, with careful planning, you can fit almost any budget.
In some cases, specifically when booking a villa or boutique hotel, venues require a buyout of the property’s rooms in order to host an event there. Depending on the size of your wedding, you may be able to have all of your guests with you at the hotel or villa. When this is the case, it is still recommended to keep your guests’ accommodation costs in mind.
When the entirety of your guest list is not staying at the same location, you will then work with your planner to make logistical arrangement to get all of your guests to the appropriate venues for your wedding-related events. It is important to keep these costs radar for potential spending.
Food and Beverage
Food and beverage costs are determined in two ways when planning a destination wedding. In one instance, the cost of food and beverage is directly associate with the chosen venue, and they require couples to choose their meal from pre-set catering options. When evaluating venue options, you will note where this is the case, and you will be given a range of prices you can expect to pay per person.
In other instance, venues do not have required caterers, leaving couples to explore other options to be brought into the venue. For those looking to make the most of a budget, this is where you are able to make up some ground. A planner will be able to help you set an ideal price per person and
The great news is that no matter who caters your meal, authentic Mexican cuisine abounds and is always delicious.
Permits and Municipal Fees
Many guests that marry on the beach aren’t aware of the need for a minimal municipal fee due to the use of the public space. Unlike other areas, the beaches in Tulum and Playa del Carmen are not private, even if they are associated with a property. In order for couples to place chairs, archways, or other wedding necessities on the federally zoned property, they must pay a municipal fee. If they plan on playing music for the ceremony, an additional music permit will be needed. In total, these fees end up topping out at just about $900. At many venues, the event coordinator will help organize these details and the costs are built in to the rental price. Again, it’s important to know how and where your dollars are going.
From florals to photographer, DJ, videographers, and everything in between, you will need to keep a portion of your budget set aside to fulfill in the remaining details of your day. I always encourage my couples to evaluate what is most important to them and then allocate their funds accordingly, booking the services that mean the most to them first.
My personal recommendation is to first select a photographer whose style is directly in line with your preferred wedding aesthetic – one whose work you see and it makes you swoon. Your photographs from your wedding will serve as the permanent reminder of the joy of your wedding experience. Invest in this gift to yourself, and work with a photographer who can truly partner with you to capture your love.
Second, give a gift to your guests and choose a DJ who will throw a party they will remember forever! Ten years later when they’re still telling stories of your day, you’ll be so glad you did.
Saying “yes” to a destination wedding already feels like a big step. Having a solid understanding of what you can handle financially and how those resources can and will be used can help to set expectations in line for your day. You don’t have to sacrifice the perfect day you have always dreamed of because of your budget – you just have to understand the investment and know how to use what you have.