This is How Much a Destination Wedding Costs on Average

According to real data, we break down costs by vendor type and location.
diane hall senior editor and wedding expert the knot worldwide
by
Diane Hall
diane hall senior editor and wedding expert the knot worldwide
Diane Hall
Contributing Senior Editor & Wedding Expert
  • Diane writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in weddings, party planning and couple lifestyle.
  • She produces editorial content for The Knot, The Bash and WeddingWire Canada.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, she was the publisher of 2life Magazine and WeddingBells Magazine.
Updated Mar 12, 2024

You could be dreaming about a destination wedding at a luxury resort in Mexico, exchanging 'I dos' at a castle wedding or celebrating alongside your loved ones at a far-flung ceremony location in the U.S. A destination wedding is certainly a special way to celebrate your love, and so we're here to answer your budgetary questions to help you achieve the event of your dreams. We surveyed nearly 10,000 couples who got married last year to find out the average destination wedding cost.

According to The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study, traveling to a destination to get married continues to be a popular option with 19% of couples married under what they consider a destination wedding (i.e. a location other than where they currently live and/or grew up). So how much does a destination wedding cost? We've got the calculations for domestic and international destination wedding costs versus a hometown wedding along with the average amount spent on vendors hired so you can plan your escape with confidence.

Destination Wedding Cost Info in this Article:

Destination Wedding Cost: Domestic vs. International Locations

The average destination wedding cost in 2023 is $41,000, according to The Knot Real Weddings Study—an increase of 15 % over 2022 which was $35,600. As these numbers are averages, use them for baseline knowledge as you begin planning your own destination wedding. It's important to note that destination weddings aren't only beach weddings in faraway tropical locations. In fact most destination weddings take place in the continental U.S. Yes, these may be beach locations, but they can also be in the mountains, at a national park, near a lake or in a favorite vacation spot. A smaller number of weddings were held in international destinations. According to our study, 44% of international destination weddings took place in Mexico, while 20% were held in Europe and 18% in the Caribbean. Here's how the destination wedding costs compare to a hometown wedding:

  • Average cost for domestic destination wedding: $43,300
  • Average cost for international destination wedding: $42,000
  • Average cost for hometown wedding: $33,300
  • Overall average cost for wedding: $35,000

Keep in mind that this number is a national average, meaning we took numbers from couples all over the country with varying destinations, wedding packages, styles and guest counts and divided it by the total number of respondents.

Destination Wedding Cost
Photo: Joey Reger

Destination Wedding Budget Variables and Cost Considerations

Destination weddings tend to cost more than hometown weddings. According to our study, the average cost of a destination wedding in 2023 is $41,000, as compared to the average cost of a wedding overall, which is $35,000. There are a few factors that come into play when explaining the difference in cost.

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Travel expenses such as airfare and accommodations impact costs when planning a destination wedding. One wedding venue option available to couples to help save money is an all-inclusive resort since the hotel room, meals, open bar and group activities are often included in their destination wedding guests' packages. They also typically offer inclusive wedding packages that provide an onsite wedding coordinator, symbolic ceremony, wedding cake and flowers (e.g. bouquets, boutonniere and centerpieces), as well as, perks for the wedding couple like spa treatments.

The time of year when you choose to host your big day may also come into play here—hosting your wedding during the peak season may mean higher travel costs than choosing a wedding date during the off-season.

Couples were more likely to hire a wedding planner when planning a destination event. According to our study, 55% of couples who planned a domestic destination wedding in the U.S. and 75% of those who hosted an international destination wedding hired a wedding planner, as compared with 34% of those who married in their hometown. While a wedding coordinator is an added expense, if you're getting married in a location that's far from home, having someone to help book an officiant, local vendors and handle all the details along with a travel specialist during the destination wedding planning process is crucial.

Destination Wedding Vendor Cost Breakdown

The Knot 2023 Real Wedding Study researched the average cost for vendors hired by couples for their destination wedding. Both domestic and international markets oscillate when it comes to destination wedding prices. Use these costs as a benchmark when you set your budget and research your expert wedding vendor team.

  • Reception venue cost: $14,400
  • Live band cost: $4,700
  • Destination wedding photographer cost: $3,100
  • Destination wedding planner: $2,700
  • Alcohol: $3,200
  • Florist cost: $3,200
  • Rehearsal dinner: $3,900
  • Videographer cost: $2,500
  • Event rentals: $2,500
  • Lighting and decor: $1,900
  • DJ cost: $1,900
  • Guest entertainment: $1,300
  • Ceremony ensemble: $1,000
  • Paper items; $580
  • Wedding cake cost: $580
  • Catering cost: (price per person): $102
  • Local Transportation/Limo: $1,200
  • Favors: $500
  • Officiant: $250
  • Wedding dress cost: $2,400
  • Additional jewelry: $475
  • Hairstylist: (price for one to-be-wed): $164
  • Makeup artist: (price for one to-be-wed): $152

If you haven't set your budget yet, take a look at The Knot Budget Tool. It will help you stay on track while planning your wedding. Prefer Google Docs or Excel? Use our free wedding planning spreadsheet to stay organized and work through budget scenarios.

Destination Wedding Costs Across the U.S.

If you're wondering how much it costs for a destination wedding in the US, the answer is it varies greatly from coast to coast. Our study reports the average cost of weddings in 2023 for each state (except Alaska and Hawaii). Here are the results for the most expensive and cheapest spots based on the average wedding cost in each state.

The Most Expensive Wedding Destinations in the U.S.

These are the 10 most expensive wedding locations in the United States:

  1. New Jersey: $55,000
  2. New York: $49,000
  3. Massachusetts: $42,000
  4. Rhode Island/Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine: $44,000
  5. DC-Metro DC, Maryland, Northern VA: $42,000
  6. Connecticut: $44,000
  7. California: $41,000
  8. Illinois: $39,000
  9. South Carolina: $39,000
  10. Pennsylvania: $38,000

The Most Affordable Wedding Destinations in the U.S.

These are the 10 cheapest wedding locations in the United States:

  1. Utah: $17,000
  2. Idaho + Montana: $20,000
  3. Kentucky: $20,000
  4. Nevada: $21,000
  5. Nebraska: $22,000
  6. North Dakota/South Dakota: $23,000
  7. Iowa: $24,000
  8. Arkansas & Missouri: $25,000
  9. Kansas: $25,000
  10. Oklahoma: $25,000

The takeaway is simply that the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. varies greatly, so it's best to do your research and consider all the major cost variables like guest count and travel costs. Find local planners, venues, caterers and other vendors in your preferred destination wedding location on The Knot Marketplace to see what their prices look like—and then compare that to the wedding budget you've set.

How Do Couples Choose Their Destinations?

When it comes to wedding planning, the world is your oyster—literally. If you're feeling overwhelmed by all of the options out there, consider stealing strategies from the couples we surveyed. Nearly six in ten couples said that they chose their location because it was interesting, meaning it was unique or it offered great sightseeing. If you're looking for a way to personalize your wedding day, choosing a meaningful location is a great way to do so. Just over half of couples who wed in 2023 said they decided on their spot because it was special to them and their partner. Consider going back to the place where you first said "I love you" or the spot where you got engaged.

No matter where you decide to exchange vows, The Knot is here to help. Use our wedding website templates to keep your guests informed about destination wedding details, and start an online registry (complete with a cash fund, so you can plan the destination wedding of your dreams).

Maddy Sims contributed to this article.

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