Why do they make Destination wedding packages so confusing? Every resort wedding package is a little different, but most packages have the same basic elements. There are four general package options, the basic or free wedding package, the semi-private dinner wedding package, the private reception package and the top tier package. Keep reading to learn more about each one with the fine print and things to look out for when deciding on which all-inclusive wedding package is best for you.
1. The Base Package or Free Wedding Package – Most resorts offer a very basic package and if you reserve a certain number of room nights, they will offer this for free. Usually, this will include a ceremony, a bouquet, a boutonniere and a few other perks like breakfast in bed or a percentage off spa services for the couple.
THE FINE PRINT: Pay attention to the guest count in all the packages. That is the max number of guests included in the package price. For example, the base package at most resorts is usually for up to 10 guests. This doesn’t mean you can’t have more than 10 guests, it just means any guests over 10 will be an additional charge. Usually, $20 or so.
Also, the base package usually DOES NOT INCLUDE A RECEPTION. A reception can usually be added at an additional cost, as well. You will want to compare the cost of the base price package with reception add-on, to the other packages to see which is best for you. Sometimes they add a lot of “fluff” to the packages which seem like a good value, but may not be worth upgrading the package, when you could get the base package plus the reception at less cost.
THIS PACKAGE IS BEST FOR: This package is best for a small, intimate wedding group just looking to have a nice ceremony and perhaps head off the resort for celebration dinner or sunset sail. If you are looking to have an after ceremony reception, you should look into the other packages.
2. The Semi-Private Dinner Package - This is usually the second package option after the base package. It offers all of the same ceremony options, and perhaps one or two more perks, plus a semi-private dinner at one of the resort’s a' la carte restaurants.
THE FINE PRINT: This is not a private reception. This is usually a dedicated area for groups in one of the restaurants. You generally can not have a dj or live music. You will choose off of the usual menu, or perhaps a few other item additions. Also, pay attention to the number of guests included for the package price. If you have more than the number of guests listed, you will need to pay to add additional guests.
THIS PACKAGE IS BEST FOR: This package is perfect for a small to medium sized wedding, under 30 people or so, where the couple wants a nice ceremony with a low key dinner celebration. This package could be a really great value.
3. The Private Reception Package – The third all-inclusive wedding package is usually the one which includes a private reception. This wedding package essentially replaces the semi-private dinner with the private reception option.
THE FINE PRINT: The private reception wedding package generally does not include any upgraded décor for the reception. It usually includes basic white linens and chairs. If you have a specific vision for décor, you will generally need to upgrade. However, most resorts have great connections, so they will work hard to make your vision a reality. Items like string lights, up-lighting, floral centerpieces are additional. However, with this package, there are usually upgrades to the ceremony décor.
Also, entertainment or photography is generally not included in this package. So if you want additional vendors, there will be an additional charge. However, the vendors are usually a lot more affordable than a stateside wedding. In addition, some resorts may or may not include a cocktail hour with this package. If you would like a cocktail hour in between the ceremony and reception, double check to see if this package will include it or if you will have to add it on. Remember, you can usually add on items, even if it is not included in the specific package. A cocktail hour is a great time for guests to mingle with appetizers and drinks, and allows the couple and bridal party to take amazing photos before the party begins. Finally, as with the other packages, pay attention to the number of guests included and remember to budget for any additional guests over this amount.
THIS PACKAGE IS BEST FOR: This all-inclusive wedding package is best for couples that want a beautiful ceremony followed by private reception bash with their own dj and private venue space. Remember, the dj is not usually included, but you can always add on the DJ.
4. The Top Tier Package – Last but certainly not least, most all-inclusive wedding packages will include a top tier package option. This is the most expensive package, but offers the most options. It will generally include upgraded ceremony options, cocktail hour, private reception and perhaps one or two vendors such as the dj and photographer.
THE FINE PRINT: A lot of top tier wedding packages will include a dj or photographer… for one hour. Who wants a dj for only one hour?!?! Pay attention to the times offered in the package. Most likely you will need to pay for additional hours, but it could still be a great savings. Be sure to compare the cost of this package with the other packages with the add-ons to see which package is best for you.
As with the other packages, be sure to calculate the cost with the number of guests you expect to attend. This package usually includes the most number of guests, but if your guest count exceeds that amount, you will need to pay for additional guests.
Other Considerations For All-Inclusive Wedding Packages:
Outside Vendor Fees: Another thing to note is that most resorts have contracts with local vendors such as dj’s, bands, photographers, florists, decorators and officiants. If you are planning to hire your own vendor, make sure to see if the resort charges outside vendor fees or has other requirements for other vendors. A lot of resorts will charge $800 if you bring your own DJ, but may waive the fee if the vendor stays at the resort for at least 3 nights. Also, you will want to coordinate equipment with your vendor. Confirm whether they will be bringing Everything they need, or will they need to rent additional equipment at the location. Make sure you coordinate with the wedding department ahead of time if the dj will need a table, cloth, table skirt, extension cords, microphone, mixer, speakers, etc. and find out the cost. Don’t assume the wedding department will have this one the property, or that they will provide for free.
Free Rooms: Many all-inclusive resorts offer free rooms for wedding groups. For example, some resorts will give you one free room for every five rooms booked. This doesn’t mean that the sixth guest to book gets a free stay, it means they will credit your room block the equivalent amount of one room at the lowest average rate. You can use this credit towards your room, towards the wedding, to be applied towards all the rooms to reduce the cost a bit or give a free room to someone that you know needs it. This is really a great incentive and the more rooms are in your group, the higher the credit will usually be. Most resorts do have a max number of free rooms, usually 3 or 4 max rooms per group.
Overall, a destination wedding is more affordable than a wedding stateside and is a great value. Plus, a destination wedding is more than one night, it is an experience to last a lifetime. If you need help or have any questions about planning an epic destination wedding, CONTACT US HERE.
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