How Much Do Wedding Planners Charge for Destination Weddings?

We break down the factors that drive the costs for a destination wedding planner, the different ways they price their services and what you can expect to pay.

By Nilina Mason-Campbell

How much Do Wedding Planners Charge for Destination Weddings?
Photo by Zola

So you’ve gotten engaged and are now at the stage of envisioning your wedding ceremony. Your mind is gravitating towards a destination wedding. Perhaps you want the added allure of a foreign locale and up the exotic ante of your big day.

Maybe you have a location that is significant to your courtship history and pairing, but it's not in the place that you currently reside or it is, it’s just far from your loved ones. Perhaps you want your new start to take place in new surroundings or you live far from your family. There are a lot of reasons to explain the appeal and purpose for a wedding to be a destination event for you, your guests or both. But what next?

If you’re looking for assistance with the next steps as you move from concept to crystalline reality, wedding planner may be your next call. And in hiring a professional to help you with your big day, how much should you budget for a destination wedding planner?

There are a lot of elements to consider when it comes to the rate you should expect to pay and we break it all down.

Why You Should Hire A Planner for Your Destination Wedding

When considering the wedding planner you’ll hire, their expertise should specifically be in planning destination weddings. When it comes to a destination wedding, there are a lot of factors and details to consider, from vendors to lodging and more. They should either have established contacts in the locale of your choice or access to a team and/or resources to acquire them once the location is determined.

Weddings are big, meaningful events that create memories that will last a lifetime, so it’s not only important that they can pull off something of this magnitude, but also contract and connect you with the best of the best: top-notch and dependable is a requirement. It requires a special skill set and savvy that they will have experience with.

How Pricing Works

There are several factors that will determine the price range of a planner capable of and specializing in destination weddings. There are also several different pricing structures that determine their rate. The most common include a flat fee as agreed upon before any services are rendered. Be sure to lay out and confirm exactly what you will get for the agreed-upon rate in advance and whether that includes advance preparations and/or day of services, on-call availability, etc.

Some destination wedding planners charge an hourly rate. This might make the most sense if you’re using a planner to set things in motion, but plan to take the reins and utilize their services primarily for consultations. However, this can still make sense even if they’re the ones continuing to coordinate and conduct follow-ups.

A Percentage of Wedding Costs

If going the percentage route, there’s a way to gauge the likely end cost in advance.Granted, they’re there to help you select everything that will eventually be charged to you for your ceremony, but since you’re likely entering with a set budget, that will help give you a vague idea of how much their fee will run you by the end. You can also do hypothetical math

How Much Can I Expect to Pay?

The number of guests and the location can factor heavily into the end cost if you’re paying a planner a percentage based on the total cost. Size definitely matters. An elopement typically concerns a very small amount of people: you and your partner, a witness, and potentially a few other close friends and/or family. A big wedding where you’re paying for meals and per plate for a significant amount of people is going to drive up the cost and therefore increase their eventual fee.

In order to come up with a ballpark figure for a destination wedding planner who charges by the hour, you can ask them how many hours a wedding typically takes to plan for them and get specific - such as weddings in their portfolio with similar specs to yours, whether it took place in a similar area, had a similar amount of guests or occurred on a similar timeline in terms of how many months to plan.

Overall, you can expect to pay a couple thousand dollars for a smaller scale wedding and $5000 for something on the larger spectrum. An elopement is often the most affordable option when it comes to a destination wedding and can easily come in at under $1000 in costs for the services of a planner.

Being educated about average costs and common factors will help you in budgeting for a destination wedding planner. You can then further discuss with them what services you’ll receive and agree upon a package that suits your requirements and the potential confines of a set budget. Just as there are several ways for determining pay and cost for a specialist to help in planning your destination wedding, there are several paths to success in meeting your needs, be they your grand ideas or financial.

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