7 Unexpected Destination Wedding Costs

Credits:    Duo Borgatto

Credits: Duo Borgatto

Destination weddings are the experience of a lifetime, an intimate way to share the biggest day of your life with the people you love the most. And in a beautiful location too! Of course, another reason many people choose a destination wedding is that (depending on the location and size of your guest list) it can work out cheaper than getting married at home. But watch out! There are often unexpected costs that can add line items to your budget. Here are some sneaky destination wedding costs you might not have planned for.

International payment fees

With so much that goes into a wedding like venue, officiant, entertainment, rental costs, food and drink, etc., it’s inevitable that you’ll be making frequent payments (including deposits). Some of these will be quite large. Bank fees and currency exchange costs can really add up when you’re making multiple payments. It’s important to research your options, including specialist peer-to-peer currency transfer services, which may charge a lower commission rate than your bank.


Service providers who are VAT registered are required to charge the appropriate rate, and this varies from country to country. This means that the price you are quoted may be less than the actual bill, when the time comes to make payment, so you should include VAT in your overall budget. If you’re planning a destination wedding in Portugal, our standard VAT rate is 23%, although there are reduced VAT rates on some items.

Guests’ transport

Some couples choose to pay all or part of their guests’ travel and accommodation costs for a destination wedding. While this isn’t required, it makes a wonderful gift! Even if you’re not paying for travel, you should consider providing transportation to and from the wedding, as well as any pre- and post-wedding events. In more remote locations, taxis and Uber rides may not be available, so it’s worth organising shuttle transportation on their behalf.

Booking out the venue

Whether you’re dreaming of a beach location or an historic property, you’ll probably want the venue to yourselves for the day of the wedding (or even the entire wedding weekend). Some properties offer this when you book out their accommodation, while others will require you to pay a fee. Either way, it’s something you should account for in your planning.

Cultural activities

One of the best parts of a destination wedding is having the opportunity to experience another place and culture. I love helping my clients arrange a Portuguese wedding experience that goes beyond the day itself! Excursions and activities are full of laughter and new memories, but they also add to your destination wedding costs.

Welcome gifts

Again, a welcome box or bag full of goodies for your guests isn’t a necessity, but it’s a gesture that’s always very much appreciated! They’re also a great place to include information about the weekend’s itinerary. The contents of your gift basket are up to you, but be aware that costs can add up quickly.

Vendor travel expenses

One of the advantages to working with local vendors is that they’re already at the wedding location. If you want to work with a specific photographer, florist or cinematographer, for example, you’ll also need to account for their travel costs. These will typically include flights, accommodation, as well as a basic allowance for meals and other expenses.

Whatever your budget, you’ll want to know your destination wedding costs from the beginning so that you can plan ahead. As a wedding planner in Portugal, I’m always happy to advise my clients, and help them stay on track financially!