A destination micro-wedding is simply a wedding away from home with 10 people or less as your witnesses. Here are 8 tips for how to have one, and how to save money doing it!
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
This is the biggest decision you will make cost-wise. Think about where your money will go the farthest.
Your first decision is domestic vs international. You might be happy to learn an international destination microwedding can actually end up being cheaper, even much cheaper than domestic. It automatically pulls the guest list way down which is what you need. The money you spend on an international plane ticket will pale in comparison to the cost of an American wedding reception with a healthy guest list anywhere.
Your second decision is which country. A wedding in most European countries, or even Costa Rica will cost you a lot more than one in the Dominican Republic, Southeast Asia, or Nicaragua. Put the adventure first, and your wedding moment second and your heart should lead you to the right choice and price point.
Let’s be real, you’ve probably been with this person a long time and there are no surprises at this point. So let your trip be your annual vacation, share it with your friends, and call it your honeymoon so your boss has to give you the time off.
LET YOUR SMALL GUESTLIST IN ON THE PLANNING
We didn’t want our friends to feel like our wedding was an “obligation vacation.” Our goal was to have an experience that our wedding party co-created with us and held as a dream vacation for themselves, with our wedding as a bonus. This is less about savings, and more just good etiquette.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AIRBNB!
Stay away from the resorts. The move here is to get a baller house with plenty of room for all of you and split the costs per person. Its like your own episode of Real World, all scrambling calling your bedrooms, swimming in your own pool, etc. Airbnb has a saved list function where you can create a trip list and throw properties on it. This helped us identify where we could get the best house in the best place for the least amount of money – for us that was Phuket, Thailand. We decided, #Phuketletsgetmarried
Check out our initial list of houses here: Around the World in 80 Infinity Pools
If this isn’t a moment you are invested in, you can totally skip it. But I love a dinner party so I took this as an opportunity.
Consider the following option: Since you have a baller crib and a tiny guest list, have a proper dinner party at your Airbnb and make the food yourselves.
You are only paying for the groceries, and you are probably splitting the costs with your housemates. It’s also a chance to let your friends who are wizards in the kitchen or badass drink mixers step-up and do what they love for the group as their contribution to your big day. Dress up if you want, have a friend take pics with their nice camera, light some candles, and make some toasts.
And remember: you don’t actually have to rehearse anything if you don’t want to. We didn’t.
This is the hardest part of planning an affordable destination microwedding wedding. If you can’t tour venues and meet with people how can you make this decision? I’m gonna ask you to take a deep breath and try to relax.
- The whole point of getting married in a faraway place is to let the place be your production designer.
- Avoid buying into a wedding package, think outside the box.
- Show off the natural beauty of the destination.
We chose the beach at sunset. You just can’t go wrong. It was a public beach close to our villa that wasn’t over run with tourists. Since I don’t know the area, I asked my AIRBNB host to make a recommendation and he told me about the beach. My best man and I checked it out the morning of the wedding and decided it would work. (My recommendation here is to choose an AIRBNB where you can have the ceremony as a back-up.)
Don’t obsess over the ceremony, it’s only a moment. Just put the pieces together and let the moment unfold how it wants to. One of our wedding party got ordained and we signed all our paperwork stateside before we left. The ceremony in Thailand was symbolic, but let me tell you — that’s every ceremony unless you are literally signing your certificate on the stage.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER
It’s worth it, you want to enjoy those pictures forever. Use Instagram hashtags to identify wedding photographers in your destination and hit them up for quotes.
Pro tip: In a budget-friendly location like the Dominican Republic or Thailand, photographers will offer good hourly rates — however hours add up. To save a bundle, only hire them for one hour. Have your camera happy friend document the getting ready and the reception, but save the photographer for the ceremony moment.
One of the greatest cost savings for the micro-wedding savvy will be on your truncated reception. If you have 10 people or less you don’t have to do the whole expensive catered reception, you can just go to a restaurant together afterward.
It was important to me, to get to experience the dance party that goes with a traditional reception while avoiding the seating charts and centerpieces. But that might not be important to you, which will make it even easier.
I poured over Trip Adviser looking for restaurants nearby that had a nightclub element or dance halls that had a dinner option and I found it! (#research) We ended up at a place in Phuket Town called Ka Jok Se. I don’t have the word count here to fully describe it but I will say, it was pure magic, and all I had to do was make a reservation.
Remember the wedding is only a moment, take advantage of the opportunity to give yourself a thrill but don’t take it too seriously. The marriage is what really matters. Lock that shit down!
Image by Nikk Nguyen Photo. See more of this real wedding here.
There’s a good chance that when you hear the term “destination wedding,” your mind quickly goes to the stunning vineyards of Tuscany or the sandy beaches of Tulum. But, the truth is, there are so many cool cities here in the U.S. that would be ideal for a destination wedding. These cities have it all: unique venues, cool vibes, amazing wedding vendors, and tons of bars, restaurants, and sites to keep your guests entertained for the entire wedding weekend–or even host a wedding after-party. If you’re looking to put together destination “I do’s” a little closer to home, get ready to be inspired by these 15 US cities!
1. Austin, Texas
Image by Century Tree Productions. See more of this real wedding here.
Between the amazing food, the live music, and the youthful vibe of the city, Austin has everything you could want for a destination wedding. If you’re looking for sleek, modern city vibes, there are a lot of venues located in the heart of downtown that would be perfect for your big day. If you’re more country than city, you can drive into the Hill Country–located just outside the city limits–where you’ll find sprawling venues with breathtaking views.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Austin.
2. New Orleans, Louisiana
Image by Sharon Pye. See more of this real wedding here.
New Orleans is the ultimate party city, which–for some couples–makes it the ultimate wedding destination! Your guests will have a never-ending list of food, bars, and entertainment to enjoy before and after the wedding. The historic charm of the city offers a backdrop for your big day that is both mysterious and romantic. Plus, the second-line tradition of being escorted through the streets by a brass band is as cool as it gets.
Husband and wife duo and Junebug member Erin and Geoffrey Photography had this to say about the city, “In our experience, New Orleans delivers a magical experience like no other city. While planning your wedding, go visit New Orleans and you will easily find a second-line going on somewhere around the French Quarter, and then you’ll know exactly why we recommend this city. Taste the food, find a good bar that serves the original French 75 cocktail, drink some coffee at Cafe Beignet–you will be welcomed as a local.”
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Louisiana.
3. Palm Springs, California
Image by Isaiah and Taylor Photography. See more of this real wedding here.
Palm Springs is known for its mid-century modern vibes, gorgeous weather, and desert views. This is the perfect city for couples who want to feel like they’ve stepped into another world and into another era. Gather your wedding guests and sit by the pool and enjoy margaritas at the well-known Ace Hotel, or take a historic home tour to see where Frank Sinatra once resided. Regardless of how you spend your time, Palm Springs is a city that makes for one unforgettable long weekend.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in California.
4. Seattle, Washington
Image by Nick Plus Danée. See more of this real wedding here.
Seattle is well known amongst vacationers but doesn’t immediately come to mind for weddings. After all, it’s earned its reputation as the “rainy city.” However, we think the city has a whole lot to offer. There are waterfront venues, modern downtown venues, and even island venues within a ferry ride’s distance of the city. Plus you have access to fantastic food and some of the best coffee shops in the country. The possibilities are endless.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Seattle.
5. Portland, Oregon
Image by Naba Zabih Photography. See more of this real wedding here.
Portland is one of the PNW’s dreamiest locations that boasts mild winters and has easy access to forests, mountains, beaches, and skylines. No matter what vibe you want to create for your special day, you’ll find a location and venue to match.
Don’t let the high chances of rain that the rest of the PNW experiences scare you. Portland’s summer is warm and dry–with highs in the low 80s–with low humidity, which makes it ideal for outdoor nuptials. But, if you prefer an indoor wedding, the winters are equally beautiful.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Portland.
6. Denver, Colorado
Image by Karra Leigh Photography. See more of this elopement inspiration shoot here.
Outdoor lovers and adventure seekers, this recommendation is for you! Denver averages 300 days of sunshine every year, making it one of the loveliest cities for couples who want to be outside for most–if not all–of their wedding day. As an added bonus, Denver is one of the greenest cities in the country.
Located just east of the Rockies, this city would be the perfect home base for your wedding weekend because you can have your ceremony and reception downtown and community-building activities in or around the mountains before and after the big day.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Denver.
7. San Diego, California
Image by Paris Karsh Photography. See more of this real wedding here.
If the famously perfect weather in San Diego isn’t enough to convince you, the cool vibes of Balboa Park, the stretches of pristine beaches, and the incredible harbor should seal the deal. This coastal city has waterfront venues galore for beach-loving couples, industrial warehouses and downtown lofts for more modern couples, and even sprawling ranches for couples who want a backyard feel in the heart of the city. If you can dream it, you can find it in sunny San Diego.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in San Diego.
8. New York City, New York
Image by Aesthetic Sabotage Studio. See more of this real elopement here.
If you’re someone who craves modernism, art, and culture, The Big Apple is perfect for you. New York quite literally has it all–from whimsical gardens like Central Park to skyline views at the Top of the Rock. There is a reason it is one of the most iconic cities in the world, after all. Tie the knot in an industrial loft or elegant ballroom before wandering the streets of Manhatten for some of the most epic wedding portraits possible.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in New York City.
9. Nashville, Tennessee
Image by Swak Photography. See more of this real wedding here.
Nashville has found a special place in our hearts. This vibrant city offers all the southern charm you’d expect in Tennessee with a funky, fresh, and eclectic twist that is truly one-of-a-kind. Not only does this city have one of the best live music scenes in the country, but it has an impressive variety of wedding venues that range from cute and quaint to luxurious and lavish. Just don’t forget to pack those cowboy boots and brush up on your line-dancing!
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Nashville.
10. Miami, Florida
Image by Andrielle Photography. See more of this real wedding here.
Miami literally has it all–diverse venues, a tropical climate, world-class restaurants, and some of the best beaches in the country. Plus, the deeply rooted party culture is second to none. There is something for everyone, which makes it an ideal city for a destination wedding. Whether you want a shoe-free beach ceremony, a luxurious country club affair, or a sophisticated estate celebration, Miami is ready and waiting to host the day of your dreams.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Miami.
11. Portland, Maine
Image by Katelyn Mallett Photography. See more of Katelyn’s work here.
When asked about Portland, Junebug member Katelyn Mallett had this to say, “Portland has been consistently rated one of the top cities for its food and drinks for the last few years. Maine is loved by all travelers, and Portland is the perfect size for a getaway. From being situated on the ocean to its showcase of New England foliage, Portland is a great spot for a wedding year-round. It has many breweries that host weddings, as well as multiple industrial venues–the only place in Maine that has this style.” We couldn’t agree more! Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to find some lobster rolls.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Maine.
12. Joshua Tree, California
Image by Alyssa Marie Evans Photography + Cori Taylor Photography. See more of this real wedding here.
Joshua Tree offers some of the most unique scenery in the country. With its large rock formations and abundance of cacti, it’s the perfect destination for those looking to be surrounded by Earth’s natural beauty. The city and venues may be on the smaller side, but there’s nothing more unique than getting married at an old hotel built in 1946 by Roy Rodgers or amidst the saguaros and yuccas.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in California.
13. Sedona, Arizona
Image by Ashtyn Nicole Photo. See more of this real wedding here.
Located just two hours north of Phoenix, Sedona’s red rocks are unlike anything else in the world. In fact, some may argue that it’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Because it’s located in northern Arizona, the temperatures stay much milder year-round, making it ideal for weddings during any season. The small city’s venues include luxury resorts, event centers with sweeping views of the rocks, romantic gazebos, and picturesque creekside parks.
After tying the knot, take your wedding party to Devil’s Bridge or Catherdral Rock to hike off their hangovers and see some seriously cool views.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Arizona.
14. Charleston, South Carolina
Image by Billie Jo and Jeremy Photography.
If you’ve always dreamed of cobblestone streets or horse-drawn carriages for your special day, Charleston, South Carolina may just be the place for you. With plenty of colorful historic buildings, pristine beaches, high-end golf courses, and centuries-old weeping willows, your lovefest will be surrounded with southern charm. Not to mention, the city is known for its incredible cuisine and even more scrumptious desserts.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in South Carolina.
15. Chicago, Illinois
Image by Emily Keeney Photography. See more of this real wedding here.
It’s easy to fall in love with Chicago’s charm the minute you arrive. From the stunning cityscapes to the hip suburbs to some of the best pizza in the world, Chi-Town has an unexplainable magnetic energy. Although it may not have the tropical weather that one might think about for destination weddings, you can’t beat the modern and upscale shops, restaurants, and hotels. We’re talking exposed brick and marquee lights galore.
Browse our directory of the best wedding vendors in Chicago.
These 15 cities prove that you don’t need to spend your life savings to get the destination wedding experience. Feeling inspired to host your own US destination wedding now? Then you’re going to want to check out the best Airbnb wedding venues in every state!
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