Posts in the 'destination wedding' Category

Partner Love: Let Bliss Honeymoons Tell You How Destinations Weddings Can Save You Big Bucks

Hey-yo! We’re letting our fantastic partners over at Bliss Honeymoons take the stage once again to present their killer tips on how to have a faboosh destination wedding without completely emptying your wallet (and checking account, savings account, etc…). Destination weddings often seem overwhelming because of the distance and the dollar signs, but surprisingly, you can score an amazing wedding for a fraction of the price it would have cost back home. Take it away, Bliss:

Exotic locations like Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, and the Capes of New England may sound expensive, but when pitted against a hometown wedding with a bloated guest list you’ll find they can save you a bundle.

Aside from saving you time and hassle, here are the 4 ways a destination wedding can save you big bucks:

Destination weddings have smaller guest lists and smaller invoices

This is simple math. How many friends of friends of friends will be willing to travel to attend your wedding? While a hometown wedding naturally lends itself to a more inflated guest list, a destination wedding is a great way to keep your guest list intimate and focused on close friends and family. If you host a hometown wedding and reception you have to find room in your budget for dozens of acquaintances that you may not include in a destination wedding guest list. This saves money on everything from the venue to the food and drink to the chair and linen rentals and guest favors.

Destination weddings give you get the best of both worlds

You get an exotic honeymoon in an amazing location bundled with the memories of a traditional ceremony-but you don’t pay for both. For just a little more  than you would spend on an exotic honeymoon trip anyways, you can include your wedding at the destination. This aspect of a destination wedding saves you the hassle of planning a wedding and a honeymoon as well as saving time by combining the two.

Destination wedding packages save big bucks

Most resorts offer special all-inclusive destination wedding packages that not only include your stay and amenities but also cover the cost of the wedding ceremony, cake, and photographs. Unlike a hometown wedding where you pay for each vendor separately as well as the venue, a destination-wedding package saves you money by bundling all your wedding day and honeymoon services into one competitive price.

Destination wedding planners take the strain off your finances

A dedicated destination wedding travel planner is the best way to squeeze the most out of your budget. Often, because of all their professional connections, tools and tricks they can save couples the cost of their fee and then some. Destination and honeymoon specialists have close relationships with the resorts, visit them in person frequently throughout the year, and have access to special pricing not available to the public. Destination wedding planners have tools and tricks to whisk you to your far away locale with insider knowledge of flight itineraries and unpublished airfare deals.

Using a destination wedding planner ensures you will spend your far away wedding day enjoying the details, not managing them.

What’s your idea of a dream destination wedding?

{Ask Liz} Two Weddings Enter, Only One Leaves

Got a question for Liz? Go to the contact page and tell us what’s up!

Break it Down, figure it out.

Dear Liz,
My fiance and I are planning a wedding 2 years out so we have time to save and I can finish with my graduate degree.  However, when we got engaged, I never dreamed of how expensive everything would be.  I have had little to no emotional or financial support from my family and although we have time to save to pay for the wedding of our dreams ourselves, I’m at the point that I feel like it would be for everyone else–instead of us.

I would like a barn wedding with a big group of people (we’ve cut the guest list down to 200), but I’m considering changing the plans completely and doing a destination wedding in Mexico instead. Do you think I would regret it?  What type of hidden costs are associated with a destination wedding?

Donde  o Donde?
Dear Donde,
The only person who can determine if you’re going to regret having a destination wedding in Mexico is you. It is pretty much on the other end of the spectrum from what you say that you want,  but here’s the thing: You have a lot of time to figure out exactly what each one is going to look like in terms of cost. The choice doesn’t have to be made right now. The Destination wedding ostensibly has less moving pieces, so start there. How much per person? How much are your guests going to have to pay to get down there, including their hotel stay? Are they going to have to pay a resort fee to use the facilities? Make the resort break it down for you in one document, including any taxes or service charges. What are you paying out the door? I know, it’s a lot of questions, but, again, you have time.
The barn wedding. This is going to sound funny, but is there a barn in particular that you had in mind? The first step is to find one, and then find out what you have to bring in. If it’s everything – tables, chairs, silverware, dishes, then find out how much that’s going to be. And, we’re talking basics, none of that silk ruffled tablecloth type of thing. Basics. You can always upgrade later. For instance, in Los Angeles, best case scenario is that a table of ten, fully set with linens, plates, etc, is going to to cost about $40, each. You will have 20 of those. I just posted what I call “The Olive Garden Rule” on my blog, which will give you a perspective on catering costs. And there’s flowers and a photographer and a DJ, all the stuff that normally goes with weddings. Don’t get freaked out while you’re finding all this info out. Just find it out, and decide. You really do have time.
Dear Liz,
I’ve been reading that  your guests bringing gifts to the wedding is a bad idea. The gifts could be stolen, cards could get separated from their boxes. I’m also worried because we live almost an hour away, and what if the gifts won’t fit in the car?We have over 100 guests.
Is there a polite way to ask them to send the gifts to our house, rather than bring them to the wedding? Or not bring anything at all? We don’t even need anything, and I don’t want anyone to feel guilty if they can’t afford to bring something.
Gifts Be Gone

Worst case scenario?

Dear Gone,

Guests are going to end up bringing gifts anyway. There is no way to deter everyone, even if you put it in 14-pt bold print at the bottom of your invitation. You can try that, though, along with putting it on your wedding website, if you have them, and generally spreading the word.

Even if you don’t register, some will bring cards with checks in them. If you do register, then the larger items can be shipped to you. But either way, folks are going to bring stuff.

Don’t worry about it too much, seriously. Designate a family member to hold onto the check cards. If there do end up being too many gifts for the car, ask a family or wedding party member who lives near you to take them, and you’ll pick them up later.

Are you stuck trying to decide between two venues? How did you figure out how to go “giftless?” Share below!

See you at the end of the aisle,


{Real Bride: Carrie} Location, Location: Debates on What State

I’ve got this dream wedding location in my head, and I’m hoping it’s not imaginary.

You see, we have a really small budget.  But we still really like to party.  We’re not opposed to DIY.  And we want to spend as much time with our friends and family as possible.

So, our A+, #1, ideal wedding venue would be some kind of camp, B&B, or conference center that we could take over for a whole weekend and have everyone stay in the same place!  Someplace that included a beautiful outdoor ceremony site, a kitchen we could use to self-cater, someplace for people to eat, drink, and dance, and cabins or a lodge that everyone could stumble off to after partying all night.

Courtesy of Whitney Martin Photography

I know, we dream big.  But I can’t help hoping that if the amazing Sara and Matt of 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding (a HUGE inpsiration to me!) can do it, than so can we!  So that’s the goal right now.

With that in mind, the first thing we had to do was decide which state to get married in!

Option #1: Ohio. :-( See, Zach and I are both from Ohio and so our families naturally assumed we’d be getting married there.  However, while we both agree that Ohio was a great place to grow up, we’ve since broken away and don’t intend to live there long-term again in the future.  Honestly, it’s just kind of (REALLY) boring.  However, most of Zach’s friends and extended family still live in Ohio.  AND wedding stuff is significantly cheaper there.


Option #2: California!  Although we’ve been working summer jobs in Ohio this year, the weeks are quickly ticking by and our planned move to San Diego, California is getting closer!  We both love San Diego, the sun, the waves, the perfect temperature, the proximity to Mexico!  This is where we can finally see ourselves “settling down” (which, for us, may only mean staying somewhere longer than a year, who knows) and where we’d like to get married.  It will be so much easier to plan a wedding close to where we are living.  Plus, I have a lot of friends and family scattered around the country.  When I sketched out my side of the guest list for our wedding, I realized that more than half of my people will have to get on a plane, whether the wedding is in Ohio or not!  Do I really want to make those poor people pay for a plane ticket and take time off to go to Ohio?  Heck no!  The downside to this, however, is that a lot of Zach’s extended family may not be able to afford to come to California.  The brutal-but-true upside to that downside: it would definitely help keep our numbers in check since his family is HUGE.

California, here we come!

Option #3: The Arizona back-up plan.  Before we left on our long Latin American odyssey trip, Zach and I were living in northern Arizona.  See, his parents bought a house out there that they are planning to move to when they retire.  But, they haven’t retired yet!  So we got to live there for a year and house-sit for them!  During that year, we really grew to love the area.  The house is within an hour of the Grand Canyon, Sedona’s red rocks, mountain climbing, swimming holes, and tons of other awesome stuff!  Plus, the house is pretty big and we could definitely clear a section of the yard for the ceremony.  The problem here would be that we’d still be long-distance planning, we’d have to rent all the tables and chairs, and people would have to stay in hotels that are at least 15 minutes away from the house.  But it’s a good backup plan because we know it won’t book up and it’s still an awesome vacation spot.

Arizona: a retiree's paradise

What do you think, people?  We’re clearly leaning towards having the wedding in California, and hoping to find a great venue there.  If you were in our situation, what state would you choose?

{Real Wedding} Christen & Leigh’s Hawaiian Beach Karaoke Bonanza

Is it just me or is it fffffreeeeezing? It’s been a nice 12 degrees F here for the last few days. I think it’s ’round about time to heat things up and cruise down to the lush tropics of Hawaii. Leigh and I tied the knot, took the plunge, straight-up got wedinated there on July 2, which was also the three-year anniversary of our first date. We were joined by fifty of our nearest and dearest for a week of carousing, splish-splashing and general good-time-havin’. So throw another log on the fire, pour some schnapps into your hot chocolate and warm up with our wicked-cool bash.

Name: Christen and Leigh
Occupation: Copy editing guru/ AP Style whiz/Wedding Superhero in training. He’s a chef.
Wedding location: The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, Kohala Coast, Hawaii
Wedding Date:July 2, 2011
Budget: ~ $20,000

How would you describe your wedding? We had one mission: Have a blast and don’t stress.

Accomplished? HELL YES.

My family lives in the states, mostly in Wyoming, where we live, and in Massachusetts. His is in Australia. Our first goal was to find some middle ground, so we (oh, sooo painfully) chose Hawaii. After contacting oodles of (seriously, like 15) hotels, we decided the Mauna Lani was the best fit for us price, location and turtle-wise.

From there, it was all about customization. We got in contact with the hotel-recommended officiant, obtained his basic civil ceremony and gave it a very us-style makeover. We wrote our own vows, included a wine box ceremony — complete with wording alluding to our TARDIS-esque wine box. We had an impromptu thumb-war and rock-scissors-paper. Our ceremony was concluded with a pinkie swear preceding our kiss, which was followed by a high-five.

Since budget (and being able to enjoy our vacation) were such high priorities, we did all of it on the cheap. Aside from the wedding package, hotel, airfare, food, cupcakes, Photographers of Awesome, my aesthetics and bar, we didn’t pay over $100 for any single item, including my dress. I had a brooch bouquet made out of baubles my mother had given me and other trinkets gifted by friends, family and co-workers. Leigh’s mum made the bunting and found the gel beads for the centerpieces. Leigh’s Gir figurine played the starring role on the top tier of our cupcakes.

Our laptop acted as DJ. We had no flowers.

But we did have an open bar.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? In general, seeing 50 of our friends and family, many of whom were meeting each other for the first time and many of whom we were meeting for the first time, tearing it up on the dance floor, playing drinking games and lounging about together throughout the week.

Personally, our  pinkie swear. It’s a very significant thing for us, something we do to resolve fights or make a promise (especially when we want to get out of awkward social situations), so to include it in such a momentous event was like the most baller buttercream icing on top of the greatest cupcake in the world.

We were also amazingly overwhelmed by people’s generosity. Be it chipping in with decorating, planning fun activities, helping out financially or just being there, we were and still are beyond fortunate to have such giving, caring people in our lives.

What did you splurge on? The hotel and wedding package definitely took the biggest bite out of our wallet, but it was completely worth it. We got a room upgrade at no cost and they ended up comping us one night. The service was unbelievable and the wedding ladies, Pinkie and Lauren, definitely know what they’re doing. Even though it was a bit spendy, we were well taken care of and didn’t really have to do anything once we showed up. It was also our first vacation together ever and the first for us in years individually. We really wanted to make it count and it certainly did.

What did you save on? Everything else. I camped out on airfare websites to find cheap tickets. We bought things from independent artists who threw some things in for free. Even our photographers, kind of. We found Kat and Justin of Persimmon Images on BAB about a year before the wedding when they ran a promotion. We got some money knocked off the top and were able to pay them down over time, so it wasn’t a huge hit all at once. They also shot four days’ worth of activities, so even with their flight, hotel and overall pricing, it broke down to be relatively inexpensive. We were really blown away by the end product, and super excited about gaining some seriously awesome friends out of it.

And my dress. Ohhh, my dress. I was kind of dragged to David’s Bridal (Shock! Gasp!) and tried on a few different dresses. I’d walked by one on the clearance rack and asked if I could try it on. The saleslady was a bit trepidatious because it was a whole whopping size bigger than what I’d been trying on, but I stood my ground. I put it on, grabbed some straps, slung ‘em over my shoulder and declared right then and there I’d be taking it. My cousin was shocked and sure I hadn’t tried enough on. I, however, was satisfied (it wasn’t love, yet. More like first-date butterflies) and knew with a little alteration, it would soon be everrrrlaaassstttiiingggg loooove (whoop … forgive me. I really shouldn’t sing in front of an audience).

Leigh’s mum helped track down a turquoise petticoat, I found the turquoise buttons and a seamstress in town whose prices were perfect, and since she makes wedding dresses, she knew what she was doing. A few inches off the bottom, petticoat sewn in, straps added, nip here, tuck there and my little clearance-rack beauty was mine … all mine.

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? It was all pretty awesome, and nothing huge was amiss. However, I probably would have taken my stubborn-ass hair under better consideration and chosen a style that would have not taken 3.5 hours, effectively swallowing the time allotted for shots with my homies. Mara did the best she could with my pigheaded hair and pigheaded self. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and she offered up the best compromise (hint, keeping the braid, nixing the curls). I still looked rockin’ and my pics are still amazeballz. Besides, I suck at posing and would have looked uber awkward anyway. However, timeline? A MUST. Plz. I didn’t. But I hate that I didn’t. Could have ended up with even MOAR AWESOME.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? Money and emotion. We had a really tough few months about a year into it, when my mother passed away and, separately, our financial situation plummeted. But I dug my heels in, using planning as a way to pull myself out of the grief hole. And the lack of money made us focus on the truly important stuff, thus doing away with extraneous BS. We stripped away the MUST BUY ALL THE THINGS attitude and focused on the nitty gritty. It helped to really zero in on the whole reason behind the planning. And made our bank account not give us the silent treatment.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? That I freaking LOVE to plan shit. Seriously. Who knew? My organizational skillz leave a lot to be desired, but it’s something I’m working on. Oh, and that compromise thing. It’s kind of important. And I learned how to say “no” nicely but effectively. I learned that people will always surprise you, and for the vast majority of those surprises, it will be amazeballzfantasticlikewhoa.

Also, if people have enough notice and you truly want something bad enough, it can and likely will happen. We knew we were taking a gamble by having a destination wedding, but we gave everyone a two years’ heads-up and tried to provide a plethora of cost-effective options.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

I’m gonna just throw out that getting married and who I’m marrying are a given, so  …
1. My lil sale dress with the blue petticoat and buttons. What? Yes. (Srsly, I have a lurve affair with it.)
2. Partying like it was 1999 with some of the coolest peeps ever.

3. Impromptu karaoke. It tends to happen with us (he proposed on karaoke night).
4. Pinkie swear
5. Seeing El Padrito bawl like a 5-year-old. YOU GUYS. So rare. So awesome.

Top 5 least favorite?
5. My painfully asshole-ish hair, even though it came out looking awesome.
4. Severe lack of time for photos. I really should have checked Liz’s timeline bettah.
3. The veil-in-face, can’t-hear-groom Hawaiian trade winds. Good timing, fellas.
2. Not winning the thumb-war or rock-paper-scissors.
1. It ending. That really was the crappiest bit.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? “It’s your day. You call the shots and people need to give you what you want because you’re the bride.” Yikes. No. Also, “It’s the most important/special/amazing/wonderful day of your life!!!!” Really? So, I could just die now? Granted, it was rad, and it was kind of cool to be fawned on all day, but the reason behind the wedding is the marriage. It’s everything that happens after the party. It’s a pre-Oscar party. If the Oscars don’t happen, then what’s the point? Amirite?

The best? “Take a minute, or five, with your [partner]. Soak it in.” YES. We did. Even when Kat and Justin were tailing us, we still had moments for the two of us. Y’all, so worth it. Make time for one another … and then keep doing it throughout the marriage.

Any other bits of wisdom? Cliche, I know, but when it all comes down to it, there’s one important thing about getting married: That you get married. The wedding is the means to an end. The end is the marriage. I mean, yes have that amazing party you have always (or maybe not) wanted. Try to get the dress of your dreams. Obsess over detail. Or don’t. Just get married and smile until your face falls off.

Logistically, because we booked both our venue and our photographers at least a year out, we got to nail down prices before they went up, and because we were able to pay them down over time, it saved us quite a bit of money. If you find a venue/photographer/whatever you love and know in your heart of hearts is the best option for you, try attempting this approach. With each the Mauna Lani and Persimmon Images, we saved at least $1000.

Budget breakdown?
Dress: $211 (David’s Bridal; Buttons: $11 LiD Designs Supplies on Etsy; Petticoat: Gift, eBay)
His outfit (total): $96 (Shorts: $26 Volcom on; Shirt: $39 Express for Men; Shoes: $24 Converse; Suspenders: $7 eBay)
Veil: $0 (Made by his mum)
Bouquet:  $0 (Assembled by his mum, brooches gifted)
Groomsmen Gifts (pocketwatches): $32 each x 5 = $160 from Amazon

Brideside Gifts: $40 x 2 = $80 (Garter flasks by You-Nique Garters and Flasks), $32 (Curious George flask) $30 (Pearls by Shari) = $142
Bunting: $0 (Made by his mum)
Hair and Makeup: $225 (Lilikoi Hair Studio)
Airfare: $1000 roundtrip for both of us
Wedding Bands: $25 + $28 = $52 (Kathryn Reichart on Etsy)
Custom Turquoise Pearl Necklaces: $52.20 (North Atlantic Art Studios on Etsy; she gave me the earrings as a gift)
Red Sox garter:  $33 (Garters by Kristi on Etsy)
Hotel: $1800
Photographers: Persimmon Images $2600 – $350 BAB discount + $2625 (travel expenses)

Venue and wedding services breakdown:
A la cart wedding package (includes both ceremony and reception locations): $1911
Reception tables, chairs, linens, set up and breakdown: $156
Appetizers: $2746
Cupcakes: $325
Enhancement Rentals (tiki torches, Chinese lanterns, lounge set): $1877
Unlimited open bar: $2956

Grand total: $18492.20

The Broke-Ass Bride is always looking for rad-tastic Broke-Ass weddings to feature. Interested? You can submit via Two Bright Lights or by emailing us directly!

-xoxo, Christen

The Fresh Hubby… in print! (+ destination bachelor party goodness)

Oh hello there! Are you admiring my proud peacock feathers? I thought you might be! Why so proud, you ask? Well, aside from the lovlieness of my plumes (pfffft), its because my handsome hubby is a contributing editor to Destination Weddings & Honeymoon’s Magazine in their super-sweet Groom’s Room column every issue!

We’ve always been huge fans of DWH Mag, and I had the honor of being quoted in it a few years ago… but I’m so excited for Hunter that he’s now a regular columnist. What a gigantic honor for us both!

Check out his first article, advice for destination bachelor parties. I just lurve it (and the illustration too)!

I know, its tiny… so here’s the full text for your reading pleasure!

Destination Wedding Bachelor Party

One of our favorite grooms, the Fresh Hubby from, tells your guy how to throw a great bachelor party.
by Hunter Stiebel

Congratulations, dude — you are soon to marry the love of your life. And just as your future wife is beautiful and amazing, the spot where you’re getting hitched is too — that’s why you chose a destination wedding. I’m sure you and your partner in crime are excited for every detail of what will surely be the happiest day of your life so far, but don’t overlook what could be your second favorite day: Yup, I’m talking about the bachelor party! Instead of doing something at home like those traditional grooms, set aside some time in paradise to make some memories with your best buds. (If the celebration becomes a boozy haze, hey, at least you’ll have some great photos.) Whether your wedding is in the mountains or the heart of the city, here are five creative ideas for a destination bachelor bash.

Why drink on land when you can drink on sea  with a band of bawdy buccaneers? If you’re headed to a tropical locale, pirate cruises make a great bachelor-party option, and they’re a staple in places like the Caribbean and Mexico. In the latter, Cabo San Lucas’ Buccaneer Queen offers an open bar, pirate shows and games, as well as a close-up view of El Arco, the famous rock arch.

Nothing says male bonding like climbing rocks. Technical climbing is a good analogy to life: As you search for your next foothold, you rely on your buddy to have your back and yell, “Upward and onward!” Conquer the rock, and don’t worry about skill: Instructors at Pikes Peak Alpine School, in Colorado Springs, can customize group outings complete with helmets, harnesses and shoes. Afterward, you and your team will have earned the right to tap the Rockies at a local bar.

Wine Country
Wine has unfairly been given a less manly image than beer, but here is a quick way to up the testosterone in the vineyards: wine tours by Jeep. Forget stomping grapes with your bare feet; you’ve got massive tires for that. In Cali, Sonoma-based Wine Country Jeep Tours can do the driving while you do the drinking — ahem, I mean tasting.

For a big-city bachelor party, why not kick it like an all-star? Book a party bus from the hotel to your favorite stadium to watch the game in style. If your budget allows a little more creativity, rent a private suite or take advantage of the “all you can eat” seats popping up in many stadiums. Chicago’s Wrigley Field Rooftop Club has three sections of special seating, each a different price and offering perks like high-def TVs, extra-wide seats and the all-important private bar.

If you’re hosting a resort wedding, why not go old-school, or rather, back to school, with an on-campus scavenger hunt? Start off in the spa and get a clue from your masseuse leading you to a hike, a golf course, a cigar bar or whatever fun activities the resort has to offer. Get a new clue from the staff at each stop. The multiple resort bars (and drinks) along the way can be helpful clue-cracking pit stops.

Whatever you do, your party is going to be a kick-butt, boogie-down bonanza. It’s hard to believe it’s only a pre-game, but when you say “I Do”, that’s when the real party begins.

(originally printed in Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Magazine, March/April issue)