This Is What a Destination Wedding Looks Like in 2022

Spoiler alert: They aren't all tropical beachside ceremonies.
two grooms walking down the aisle
Reger and Co.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Mar 04, 2022

If you have a serious case of wanderlust, you might consider planning a destination wedding. (Or perhaps you already hosted your nuptials far from home.) Given that marriage trends are constantly evolving, the definition of a destination wedding has taken on a totally new meaning today. If you find yourself wondering, "What is a destination wedding exactly?" we've got the answer—and no, it's not limited to a tropical beach wedding ceremony or a remote European location. According to The Knot 2021 Real Weddings Study, which surveyed over 15,000 recently married couples, destination weddings are more common today than they've ever been before. In fact, you might have planned a destination wedding without even realizing it.

What Is a Destination Wedding?

Traditionally, a destination wedding is a ceremony that's held outside of the couple's hometown, which requires travel for most (if not all) of those involved. These weddings are commonly associated with picturesque locations, like the South of France or Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In 2021, nearly one in five couples hosted a destination wedding, proving that they're a great alternative to a traditional ceremony. But of those who planned a destination wedding, only 17% would consider their location to be tropical, and just 9% said it was held in a foreign country (Mexico and the Caribbean are the most popular international wedding locations). This indicates that the majority are actually domestic weddings—or, as we like to call them, "domestination weddings." With plenty of charming wedding venues throughout the United States, it's not surprising that domestination weddings are a trend on the rise—plus, it's often much easier to obtain a marriage license within the US than it would be abroad. While some couples select their destination wedding location for its sentimental value, others are choosing their wedding city simply because they like it.

Of those who hosted a destination wedding in 2021, 57% picked the location because it was interesting. Just over half of all respondents selected the venue for its significance to them (or their partner), and 19% hosted their loved ones at a venue that was not in their hometown or in the city where they currently live. Over 80% of couples confirmed that they stayed overnight at their location, as did the majority of their guest list. Additionally, nearly 30% of couples had to fly to their wedding destination, meaning their guests likely did as well. This factors into the average cost of being a wedding guest, which fluctuates year over year. Our data finds that the average guest spend for those who traveled in some capacity, either by driving or flying, ranges between $600 and $1,440.

While the pandemic made destination wedding planning a bit more complicated in 2021, the rate of destination weddings was actually pretty similar to past years—especially those that took place within the United States. In 2019, 21% of couples classified their big day as a destination wedding, just slightly higher than 2021's rate. We anticipate that given the current travel boom (and many people's eagerness for a getaway), the rate of destination weddings, both domestic and international, will continue to rise in 2022 and into 2023.

If you're ready to plan a destination wedding, we highly recommend hiring a wedding planner to help with the details. According to our study, couples who hosted a destination wedding were much more likely to hire a planner—and for good reason. They can help you put together all of your wedding celebrations, and book the right vendors to make your dream a reality. A travel agent can also be helpful when it comes to booking airfare and accommodations for your guests.

It's important to note that the average cost of a domestic destination wedding is higher than a hometown wedding ($33,400 vs. $27,300, not including the engagement ring). However, since the guest count tends to be lower at destination weddings, couples are spend more per wedding guest when hosting a destination event. Our studies indicate that couples are more focused than ever on planning a personalized, memorable experience for their guests, as opposed to a one-day celebration. There are plenty of ways for couples to reinvent the traditional wedding ceremony. Some continue the celebration with a sequel wedding or anniversary reception, while others host a micro-wedding with a macro-budget. And now, more couples are opting for domestination weddings too. By putting the emphasis on love and celebration, modern couples are putting their personal spins on tradition. And given that destination weddings continue to rise in popularity, despite the pandemic, it's likely that more couples will continue to host their special day in a place that's far from home—even if it is still in the United States.

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