Need Help..Large group, wedding?

Jul 22nd, 2014, 01:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 6
Need Help..Large group, wedding?

I would love some advice here...this is my very first time planning a real vacation for more than 2 people, and I'm so overwhelmed.

Basically, I got tired of looking at wedding venues here in the US that cost 20G's for 6 hours of my life. So, we started looking at destination weddings. Now, we are aware of the common gripe that people don't want to spend thousands of dollars (understandably) on someone else's wedding. So, we want to cover either the accommodations and food or accommodations and flights for the 20 closest people in our lives (moms, dads, siblings, a couple kids).

We know we want it somewhere warm, and are open to almost anything to make this fit in the 20K budget. We have looked at villas on VRBO, have considered a few AI's and are not opposed. We may have up to 40 or 45 people attending (MAYBE), but would only be paying for them at the reception and nothing else, if they should choose to come. So, that being said, if more people want to come down, we would like them to be able to stay near by or at the same property if they wanted to.

The group of 20 ranges from age 4-65, four children, so we would like to have something for them if possible.

As for the wedding, we really are very laid back. I'd be happy saying vows on the beach and going out to dinner afterwards if it ends up being a small group. However, it would be nice if we could have a small reception for a couple hours with a DJ so my fiancee and I can have our first dance and I can dance with my dad.

Location wise, we'd like it to be somewhere less expensive to fly into (DR?) the grooms brother has 3 kids, and we don't want to put a huge burden on them. Time of year is flexible, whatevers cheapest.

Any suggestions??
lmdaigle1 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 02:10 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Average flight to Caribbean $500-$700 that's half your budget
Hotels, good luck with $200 per 2 nightly, so there's $14,000 (that's if you find $200 nightly, most average $350 plus)
Wedding itself, even simple, will put you out $2000-$3000
photographer will be around $3000 plus (can't bring your own, illegal to bring in a worker without work permits in most countries)

Food averages as much as accomodations

You must be on island at least 3 days prior for most islands

reception, for 40 think at least $8000 (on the cheap)

You didn't even say what time of year--non peak maybe doable (June thru November) rest of the year double or triple the prices

Wedding venues in States are much less than anything Caribbean, including beachfront with no decorations

DR the cheapest destination, averages $2500 per couple with air, not including wedding, so that alone only covers 10 people (air and hotel)

It's not just show up on a free beach easy.

So what time of year are you thinking?
blamona is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
congrats on your engagement.
may through mid december (excluding thanksgiving week) is cheapest.
best/most reliable weather is in late fall.
i would advise trip insurance since your going to pay for so many guests.
with so many folks a travel agent should be able to arrange a group rate price for rooms at any resort. they will also book air so everybody arrives on island at approx the same time. a resort will send vehicles for everyone staying with them. villas will not. suggest you select resort and then ask travel agent to book you, otherwise you'll end you where they want to send you.
most resorts in the islands have wedding planners to help you arrange thing like the flowers, officiant/mininter, dj, food & drink. they will have or put up some sort of arbor on the beach or elsewhere and arrange for chairs if you wish them. you need to find out what requirements your destination asks you to meet in order to get your license.

jamaica has a few huge villas that might work for you. i think dom rep has a couple big houses too. i have rented villas with various size groups and advise several smaller houses rather than 1 big one. inevitably grampy will be trying to nap when one of the kids has a meltdown. not all will want to eat or sleep at the same time, etc.
an ai might be a good choice so people could play together or go do different things.

the area south of cancun (near playa del carmaen) has tons of ai's in various price ranges - also loads of villas. there is a lot to do in this area from fishing to ziplines, nice beaches with clear water and is known to offer the most bang for your bucks. a couple resort companies have several resorts right next to one another so those more well off could stay in the upscale version and those with less could stay in the a mid range & still be in close proximity & and share facilities. i believe Riu does this.
for tons of info on this area take a look at

hope this helps a little
virginia is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 04:43 PM
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Are you looking for a legal wedding out of the country? If yes, that's the part I'd research first. Which islands are the easiest to get married on, with the least red-tape.

For the most reasonable Caribbean destination I'd look at the coast of Mexico ("Mayan Riviera"). But it's not so straight-forward to be legally married there. Many people do that at home and the Mexico wedding is merely a celebration.

As far as time of year, the cheapest will be in the summer time, but that's because it's so hot and rainy season many places.
suze is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 05:07 PM
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No offense, but what wedding venues are you looking at in the US that cost 20K? Weddings preferences are so versatile, you don't have to spend anywhere near that amount of money to having a special memorable day. Having been married for years now, I am glad we chose not to spend money like that for just one day of our lives together. But, to each their own.

A destination wedding is going to be way more costly and stressful for everyone involved. The Caribbean Mexico is a beautiful destination and probably the most cost efficient venue out there. Look at the family friendly AI's. This will help with guest costs for food and drinks as well as on property activities and entertainment. I would avoid the RIU's though. It's one of those old sayings of 'you get what you pay for'. Instead, look at the Iberostars, Barcelos, Occidential or even a Wyndham first. Actually, look at Cozumel also. The cost is going to be less expensive than the Playa del Carmen area.

The most cost efficient time of year is the 3rd week of May, which is the week before Memorial Holiday, which is also the best weather wise. The first 2 weeks of November and December are good too, but the pools are too cold to swim in Mexico during that time of year, at least it is for us.

Good luck with your decision, and congrats.
KVR is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 04:40 AM
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It's surprising you cannot find anything in the US less than 20K, although 20k is not a big budget, it is probably about average. If you go to the Caribbean, you might end up in less expensive places where Americans go for cheap vacations, like Mexico or even worse, DR. The wedding packages in some hotels might look inexpensive, but by the time the extras are added it can soon mount up to what you would spend at home and you will have less people attending.
Odin is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 09:04 AM
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There's no way a destination wedding (especially when you're covering some part of guests' costs) is going to be cheaper than a ceremony at home.
suze is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 07:56 PM
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Yes, I get that I can do a wedding for much less than 20K, but I've been to dozens of places around the lake here in NH. I've got several quotes and 12-17K are bare minimums for 120 people, with catering and room rental, and MAYBE 1 hour of open bar. I don't have a spectacular yard in my family, so a backyard wedding is out. I've looked into renting a venue on VRBO, but nearly all don't allow weddings. We don't have many options up here.

Both fiancee and I have large families of which we can't just invite some if we do it locally. What really draws us is the value we can get for what we spend. Honestly, spending 17K dollars on food and a room for 6 hours makes me sick.

We aren't trying to pay for everything, just whatever makes sense. If we did an AI, then we would obviously pay for rooms and food. If not, maybe rooms and flight.

We have found a few places we like, in Akumal? Has anyone been here? Also, we have found a few large villas that are around 10-12K for the week in the DR. Something I have recently opened my eyes to is doing a repositioning cruise from Boston to San Juan, which would be easy transportation wise. We could all take a bus to Boston, and flights back are around 250. However, this wouldn't be our top choice.

Thank you for the thoughts that have been thrown out here. I didn't realize May was the best "bang for your buck." We have been looking in October, as we thought that was the low season, but we are by no means stuck on that time of the year. We just want to see if we can make this fit in our budget and really treat a few very special people in our lives.
lmdaigle1 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 08:06 PM
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As far as Iberostar...which of the Mexico/Jamaica/DR resorts have you all found to be better and why? Keep in mind it will have to be one that is family friendly!
lmdaigle1 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 11:55 PM
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Hey there, I'd like to help you out. I recommend Dominican Republic, Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Club in Puerto Plata. My family and our friends have been going there for years. My cousin had his destination wedding there 2 years ago. Married on Serenity beach, we had a total of 70+ in villas and various suites. This resort is super family friendly with many pools, beaches, so many fun activities, restaurants and bars. All inclusive and the service and quality is quite impressive. They will do a wedding for you, they will bake you a wedding cake, which I must say was amazing. Our reception was in the backyard of the groom's parents villa (my aunt and uncle). A big house with a back yard, an in-ground pool, they set up a tent with tables dinner service, dance floor, a DJ, bar, etc. You get everything, the best part is, the fun doesn't stop that night. You get to spend more time with all those you love at the beach, restaurants, bars, pools the next day(s). Then there are excursions, it's impossible to be bored, and impossible to not have a great time. Perfect for all ages because there are a million pools, some with slides, volleyball nets, basketball hoops, children/adult areas. If you get a villa, which I strongly recommend, you get a private in ground pool, many rooms with king beds and personal bathroom with shower. I just returned from there two weeks ago, (10 day vacation) we brought 15 people, my aunt and uncle brought 10 people, they brought the baby as well who just turned one, everyone had a great time. The wedding was a great success and the resort is constantly expanding and improving. I'd recommend booking two villas with your 20 people. To be able to afford this, you must be sent down through a member (or be a member), because when you buy in to the club all your housing rates are drastically reduced from the non-member price and the extra benefits skyrocket. My family is at the highest membership (shareholder), if this place interests you I can send you down through our membership. If so see my profile and get in touch. This was the only destination wedding I have ever done, but it was the most fun I had in my life so I highly recommend it.
chrisc21 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 09:03 AM
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Akumal is fantastic! I've not been to that side of Mexico myself but I know many people who love it there. It's a little complicated to get to though, because you fly into Cancun then need to get everyone down the coast somehow (requiring rental cars, shuttle, bus, whatever).

I understand that thinking, but plane tickets, room, food for 20 people taking everyone to the Caribbean or Mexico is going to be a whole LOT more money than that!
suze is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 09:55 AM
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You don't stay where you are flying from but regardless you are going to spend at least $10K (and maybe more) just on the airfare for your 20 guests flying them to/from anywhere in the Caribbean or Mexico. That isn't going to leave you much for accommodations and food during their stay let alone a "special" meal & refreshments for your wedding reception.

Assuming you have a $20K budget and are inviting 20 guests (including yourself & fiancé) you'll spend $500 per person on airfare (that's a low number, by the way) and you'll only have $500 per person left for everything else. That comes to a paltry $71/day/person for a typical 7 night stay - you could stretch that to $100/day/person if if the trip lasted only 5 days. With that kind of budget you and your guests are going to be staying in a very bare bones "no frills" hotel and be dining on peanut butter sandwiches.

Of course if you expect your guests to pay their own way and you are planning to have a $17K to $20k reception somewhere in the Caribbean, that's a completely different matter but you'll still be paying that $17K to $20K for a "6 hour party".

Sorry, but your budget is unrealistic for what you are trying to achieve.
RoamsAround is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 01:21 PM
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i love akumal. it has some restaurants, beach bars & some shops. it's fun to walk around. there is good snorkeling off the town beach & in yal-ku lagoon. it's centrally located for those who want to do activities. it has some actual mexican flavor unlike cancun which tends to look like miami with a nicer beach.
akumal beach resort is ai, on a nice stretch of beach. is small & mid-priced so def not fancy but that could help stretch your budget.
re prices - may through mid november is all same price. so oct is in "low" season.
can't offer any ai advice but fodor poster with screenname KVR knows tons about ai's. put her name in the title of a new thread so she'll see it.
virginia is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 01:45 PM
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What about a wedding at a rental house closer to home (be kind to your guests) and then go to the warmer climate for your honeymoon. Maybe a big house on Cape Cod?
starrs is offline  
Jul 25th, 2014, 11:49 AM
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Ok...I realize many people here seem to think it's unrealistic...and realizing maybe I wasn't clear on the plan. Our budget is 20k for EITHER the airfare and accommodations(if we were to rent a large villa - looking at around 7-8K for that) OR accommodations and food/drinks (If staying at an all inclusive).

I have researched quite a bit, and have found I can get all-inclusives at Iberostar for 1100/wk per room (2ppl/rm). With 9 rooms, that's definitely within our budget.

The "be kind to your guests" thing kind of hurts. We think we are being more than generous, offering to pay a substantial amount of money to take people that would otherwise NOT go on a vacation that are very important to us. The whole point of spending this money this way was to really enjoy a week all together so both sides of the family could get to know each other. This is also counting as our honeymoon, and we are trying to make it easy on our guests.

If we went to cape cod, guests would still end up paying for gas, food, drinks, and accommodations (as the ones you have picked are 5 bedrooms or less) for a few days, and we would end up spending a large amount on the actual wedding, as more people would attend. If you think people can stay for 3 days with rooms, food, drinks, and gas for under 400 on Cape Cod, I'm impressed. Not to mention, many of the VRBO homes do not allow weddings. We are not doing a registry, and we will tell others that we are not paying for if they want to come, great! But we won't be offended, as we know this can be expensive.

I've researched flights, and to DR or Mexico out of Boston in Sept or October, we are looking at around 400-450 round trip.

I am not looking for people to tell me this is a bad idea, or that it just won't work. I know there are options out there, I'm looking for advice as to what locations people would recommend.

Thank you for all the great advice on Akumal. We would probably rent a bus for everyone to make it easy. It sounds like a great place, and almost exactly what we might be looking for. Not too busy, not too remote, perfect.
lmdaigle1 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2014, 12:14 PM
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On another note....I have attended 3 weddings this summer for friends and close relatives, all of which would be considered "destination" weddings here in the US. We went to one in New York, the room we had to book cost 300/nt....nevermind gas and food for the two nights we were there! One in DC cost flights (~250/pp rt) plus room (~150/nt) then food, drinks and parking at the airport. One other is within close driving distance, but is a Friday wedding and on the coast, and will end up paying ~250/nt for 2 nights. Add in registry gifts, bachelor/bachelorette travel, wedding showers...I've spent thousands on weddings this year alone.

Locations we have looked at here in NH, most have required room blocks that include rooms priced at 300/nt with a two night minimum!!! We are disgusted with that, and the people that would stay in those rooms are the ones coming with us anyways. I feel like they would rather spend a few hundred bucks for an awesome weeklong vacation on an island rather than 2 nights in a decent hotel here.

We aren't taking any money from my parents and paying for this ourselves. We are responsible adults who already own a home together and want to do something really nice for the closest people in our lives.
lmdaigle1 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2014, 12:37 PM
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I think it's a fine idea, I was only questioning the budget numbers.

There's some contradictions in your posts like saying:

$900 for a couple to pay there own airfare is a lot more than "a few hundred bucks".
suze is offline  
Jul 25th, 2014, 01:21 PM
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We are just trying to help you with expectations.

If you pay air OR room, OR. Whatever, you still haven't accounted for the wedding payment itself. It's just not show up in a foreign country get married at the beach kinda thing.

The actual wedding will probably put you out $20,000 between, pastors, flowers, paperwork, wedding planner (you've never been there so you'll definitely need help, or fly down before to plane which will cost a vacation)

Then add that reception, and alcohol naturally costs more on an island as it has to be imported.

We only can go on what you tell us.

Akumal sounds great for you. Just keep in mind, your paying 1100$ per person, so that allows maybe 9 persons, then that leaves $9000 for the actual wedding and reception, which usually costs more than any venues in the States.

You also have to know the laws of whichever country you choose-- most require you stay there 3-5 days before the marriage.

So while it's great to pay for some guests (noble idea) costs in the end for the wedding itself will be higher than in the States, and if you're paying for guests to get there you won't have anything left for the wedding itself.

Just trying to help!
blamona is offline  
Jul 25th, 2014, 01:30 PM
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Truly not trying to crush a dream here. Only a reality check on the math.

22 people assuming all are couples no singles
1100 x 11 = $12,100

airfare 22 x 500 = $11,000

charter a bus from Cancun airport to Akumal & back = ???

wedding planner, venue, ceremony, flowers, food = ???
suze is offline  

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