Destination Weddings – Who Pays For What?

Gone are the days when the father of the bride paid for his daughter’s wedding day. And while some couples may receive generous donations from family towards the cost of their wedding day, more and more couples are choosing to have non-traditional weddings and are paying for the wedding themselves.

Quite honestly, I don’t feel like anyone, whether that is myself or the wedding industry should dictate to you who pays for what, whether you’re having a wedding near to home or abroad. Every couple has a different financial situation, and a different budget. Just because The Knot magazine is telling you that you simply must pay for a rehearsal dinner, the wedding and a post-wedding brunch for your guests, does not mean that you have to, or that you should feel bad about not paying for everything. Even a wedding close to home can be an expensive affair for a couple and for their guests, and at the end of the day, it’s up to the people you invite whether they want to attend your wedding.

So instead of telling you what you should and should not do, I’m going to tell you how and what we paid for at our wedding. If you don’t know our story that well, I’m from England and Menno is from the Netherlands but we met and live in Austria. We decided to get married near our home in Austria, which although was not a destination wedding as such for us, almost all of our guests had to travel from overseas to celebrate with us, so in some ways, it can be regarded as a destination wedding.

So here’s what we did:

We were paying for the wedding ourselves, and around 6 months before our wedding Menno was made redundant as the company he was working for went bust. So that meant that as much as we would have loved to have paid for everything for everyone, we simply couldn’t. We set up a website in advance and tried to give everyone as much information as we could about the wedding, including what we would be paying for, and left it up to them to decide whether they could afford to come.

What we did pay for:

  • On the wedding day, we hired a venue and paid for all of the food, wine, beer and soft drinks. We told our guests in advance that if they wanted to drink spirits there would be a paid bar service, but in the end, everyone was happy drinking beer and wine.
  • I paid for the bridesmaids’ dresses and told them that they could accessorize as they wanted. We asked the groomsmen what colour suits they already owned, and agreed they would all wear black so they would not have to buy anything new.
  • Extra celebrations back in England and Holland for those that could not make it out to Austria (actual, in the end, our families paid for these but we had offered to cover the costs).
  • A pre-wedding evening of drinks and nibbles that we hosted at our apartment. Nothing fancy, just a few beers and pizzas but enough for everyone to get to know each other without the need for a formal rehearsal dinner.

What we didn’t pay for:

  • We helped our guests arrange travel and accommodation to suit their budgets that we knew would be close to our wedding venue. For the few that decided to stay a bit further away, we helped organise taxis at the end of the night but they covered the costs. We were understanding for anyone that told us they could not attend because it was too expensive for them and invited them to join us at a post wedding celebration back in our home countries.
  • We organised a pre-wedding trip to the summer bobsleigh run in Igls, but we told everyone upfront what the extra cost would be. Those that wanted to take part did, and those that didn’t could stand at the finish line a cheer the others on, so everyone could still be involved.

So that’s how we did it.

However you decide who is paying for what, do not let the wedding industry pressure you into paying for something simply because you feel obligated to. Only you can decide what you are comfortable paying for.



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