Beneath the often ornate envelope is your invitation to spend upwards of a few thousand dollars to attend a friend’s destination wedding. Most of us experience that pocketbook dread when the destination wedding invitation arrives. While you are no doubt over the moon for your loved one, the thought of forking over a large sum of cash just to go can make you bemoan the wedding altogether. Attending a destination wedding opens up the floodgates for costs — from airplane tickets to hotels and meals — that can really add up.

However, it is possible to attend a destination wedding on the cheap, by simply searching for cheap flight deals. You don’t have to dread getting destination wedding invitations in the mail — by being a bit budget savvy, you can attend the wedding in an exotic destination for your friend or loved one and still feel fine financially.

Here are our tips and tricks for dodging the sticker shock of a being a destination wedding guest.

Start Planning and Budgeting Now

a traveler on a laptop

You just received your invitation to a wedding in Paris. Rather than letting the invite sit around for weeks, start your travel planning now. The biggest budget drainer can be the cost of traveling to the wedding. The more time you have, the more likely you can find a deal or play around with airfare predictors to see if and when the ticket will go up or down. If you wait to book your flights, car rentals and hotels until the last minute, you’ll almost always end up playing more. By planning as far in advance as possible, you stand a better chance of not overpaying on travel expenses. Also if you set aside extra cash each month leading up to the wedding, it will make it easier to afford when the actual wedding rolls around.

Cost Compare The Wedding Hotel Rate With Other Accommodation Options

Most couples block off rooms at specific hotels for their big day. Guests often believe they are getting the best deal on the room rate. However, this isn’t always the case. While you might think the wedding rate is the best you can do, always shop around and compare costs. Wedding hotel rates aren’t the end-all-be-all. There might be cheaper options close by and more in keeping with the budget that you want to stick to for the destination wedding. The key is to compare and shop around for other accommodation options. Plus, if you’re in super-connected cities like New York, Paris, or Hong Kong, the great public transportation will make getting to and from events way easier.

Use Your Travel Rewards

searching for flights on a tablet

Perhaps you have been hanging on to airline miles or hotel points. If you are concerned about affording a destination wedding, now might be the time to cash in those travel rewards. From airline miles to credit card rewards, you can let your spending at home make it possible to attend the wedding. If you can get to the wedding without paying for a car rental, flight or a hotel night, it makes attending the wedding much more affordable.

Split Costs With Other Guests

Have a friend or two going to the wedding too? See if you can split some of the costs of the destination wedding. Car rentals can be shared or Uber rides to wedding events. Even hotel rooms can be split with a good friend or relative. Traveling with someone else can cut your costs in half. Before you book everything yourself, it never hurts to ask other guests going to the wedding if they want to split any of the travel costs.

Ditch The Gift or Go Small


Most wedding etiquette experts advise destination wedding guests to either go very small with a gift for the couple or resist getting a gift at all. Your presence and all of the money you shelled out to attend is enough of a gift for the couple. Most couples throwing a destination wedding will even write on the invitation not to send a gift. By either scaling back on the size of gift you would normally give for a wedding or not getting a gift altogether, you can save what often amounts to a hotel night or even airplane tickets if you come across cheap flight deals.


Are you a frequent destination wedding guest? How do you afford the travel aspect of destination weddings? Share your ideas with us in the comment below.

One Response

  1. Gail

    We are the destination wedding. More than half our couples elope. For those who have guests we suggest a couple of cost saving ideas. One is the shared house rental. Vacation rentals can be found most places that will hold 4 to 6 couples. Often they are like mini resorts with pools and spas. They offer an alternative to the more expensive hotel stay. Here in Hawaii there are a handful of beachfront or tropical paradise compounds where the cost of the venue and the cost of stay for as many as 16 couples can be rolled together. When planning is far enough in advance attending the wedding and a fab vacation can all roll into one happy piece.


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About The Author

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at