**Updated April 2023**
When planning a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic, the first thing you’ll want to do is set your budget. How much do you want to spend on your wedding? Or probably a better question: How much can you spend? You’ll need to start with the basic costs of a destination wedding to find out if it’s a good fit for you.
How much does a destination wedding cost anyway?
I’ll take you through everything you need to know about the costs of having a wedding in Punta Cana as well as all the extras you may not have considered when you decided to get married on this beautiful island.
Let’s start here:
Traditional Wedding vs. Destination Wedding Cost Comparison
You’ve probably heard that destination weddings are cheaper than traditional weddings. That’s mostly true… Especially when you look at the averages.
The average cost of a wedding in the United States is $28,000, while the average cost of a destination wedding is $23,800.
Now that’s a significant difference!
But let’s be honest:
Average prices don’t always tell the full story. There are so many different factors to consider that influence the price, and your budget can quickly go from $24,000 to $28,000 (or more) for a destination wedding. So instead of looking into averages, let’s talk about all the different elements that contribute to the overall cost of a destination wedding.
What to Consider for your Destination Wedding Budget
Essentially, a lot of the elements for a destination wedding are going to be the same as you’d have for a traditional wedding. A beautiful wedding dress, a nice venue, and some flowers, of course. But let’s break it down into categories so we don’t forget anything.
First, we’ll have some basic items that you can purchase any time after you get engaged. Then we’ll add in the main vendors you’ll need to book for your wedding day. And finally, we’ll talk about the extra costs you’ll need to consider since you’re having a destination wedding.
- Weddings Rings
- Wedding Dress
- Bridal Accessories
- Groom Attire
- Printed Items (ie. save the dates, invitations, thank you cards)
- Marriage Certificate
Destination Wedding Vendors:
- Wedding Planner
- Wedding Officiant
- Hair and Makeup Artist
- Wedding Cake
Extra Destination Wedding Costs:
- Vendor Fees (at resorts only)
- Extra Wedding Events (like a crazy hour, fire show, cigar rollers, etc.)
- Wedding Favors
- Group Activities (welcome dinner, excursions, etc.)
That seems pretty straightforward, right? I know there’s a lot on that list, but the good news is, once you book your wedding venue, the rest of the details pretty much fall into place. So I guess that’s where we should head next.
Finding a Destination Wedding Venue
Booking your destination wedding venue is one of the most difficult decisions you’ll have to make during the wedding planning process. There are hundreds of options, and they will all bombard you with information. Not to mention the different pricing lists with every type of package you can imagine. So how do you know which is the best?
Well, I always recommend off-resort wedding venues like Kukua Beach Club or Jellyfish Restaurant. They offer the most flexibility across the board (and the best communication, too.) Check out Private Venues vs. All-Inclusive Resorts for a full explanation.
That being said, it can be tempting to book your wedding at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. They offer more one-size-fits-all wedding packages.
What do I mean?
Instead of piecing together the different elements of your wedding day, as you would do at an outside venue, you’ll select from a list of wedding packages, with one set price, that already has “everything” included.
Let’s talk about venues first and then we’ll go into the cost of resort weddings.
Off-Resort Venue Wedding Pricing
The nice thing about off-resort venues in Punta Cana is that you get to decide how expensive or how affordable your wedding is going to be. Typically you’ll be given a list of everything you can include on your wedding day, and from there, you’ll piece together your budget.
A typical wedding at an off-resort venue will cost about $12,000-$15,000 for 40 people. Keep in mind this is only for the venue and doesn’t include all vendors or basics like your wedding dress or the rings.
Thankfully, you’ll be paired with an amazing wedding planner who will help you stay within your budget and also create the wedding of your dreams. Whatever your heart desires, you can make it happen at an outside venue.
Did I mention communication with outside venues is way better than at the resorts? It’s true! They offer the most personalized service in Punta Cana.
But back to pricing:
Let me get a little more specific.
Breaking Down Your Destination Wedding Costs at an Outside Venue
Food and alcohol will take up most of your wedding budget. Most venues will have a few different menu options to choose from, ranging in price from $45 to $100 per person. For alcohol, you’ll likely be charged around $15-$20 per person per hour for an open bar.
Venues usually recommend serving 2 or 3 signature cocktails during the cocktail hour, then serving beer and wine for dinner, and opening the bar fully during the reception. That will help you save on your alcohol costs… But you can see how a large guest list will really influence the price, right?
It’s no secret:
The bigger the guest list, the more expensive your event will be. Plus, the more extras you include, the higher your budget will need to be, too. The biggest way to save on your destination wedding is by having a small guest list with only your closest family and friends.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can also keep it simple with minimal decor, house alcohol, and a basic dinner menu. Trust me, you don’t need much to make these places look amazing! And the food and drinks are always great!
On the other hand, if you want a big, extravagant event, feel free to add in all the extras, like an LED dance floor, huge cascading centerpieces, and a crazy hour/fire show combo. Kick it up even higher with a steak and lobster dinner and free-flowing bottles of champagne. Just remember, you’re going to feel it on your purse strings.
Now let’s compare that to resort weddings.
Resort Destination Wedding Costs
When it comes to budgeting for a resort wedding, it can be a little tricky. You may not believe me at first because their packages seem pretty straightforward: They have set pricing, and you select the package of your choice.
Most packages include:
- A Symbolic Ceremony
- Bouquet for the Bride
- Boutonniere for the Groom
- Wedding Cake
- Cocktail Hour
- Dinner Reception
- Basic Decor
Some packages even include extras like hair and makeup for the bride, a discount at the spa, or late check-out for the newlyweds. Even bigger packages can include a welcome party for you and your guests as well as a crazy hour for your wedding reception.
These packages usually start around $15,000 for 40 guests. Smaller packages with fewer guests (less than 30) can be around $10,000. Some resorts will even include a complimentary ceremony if you book a certain number of rooms. Sounds pretty great, right?
Now here’s the tricky part:
A lot of items that you need for your wedding aren’t included in their packages. Things like lighting, music, the dancefloor, an MC, bouquets for your bridesmaids, etc. The list goes on and on. Once you start adding in all those other items, your price is a lot higher than originally quoted.
So let’s talk about that for a second.
Resorts and their Hidden Fees
Surprise! Resorts have a lot of hidden fees. Most notably, the dreaded vendor fee… Have you heard about it?
Well, the resort will charge you for any off-site vendor that you’d like to hire for your wedding. Think hair and makeup artists, wedding officiants, and (ding ding ding!) the photographer and videographer.
This fee can range from understandable ($250) to outrageous ($1000+). They usually charge per vendor, but some resorts charge per person! This can really add up quickly if you plan to use all the vendors of your choice. And if you don’t get to choose the vendors you like, then you may be forced to skimp on quality.
You’ll likely run into a lot of other hidden fees like that. They may charge you extra to bring your own decor. You may find that the ceremony location you’re in love with isn’t actually included in your package, and you’ll have to pay another fee to get married there. Or if you have guests that aren’t staying at the hotel, you’ll have to pay extra to get them access for your wedding day – on top of the per person price you’re already paying for their food and drinks, etc..
Now don’t let me scare you:
Resort weddings are beautiful, and they may be a better choice for you! I just want you to know ahead of time what to expect so you aren’t blindsided when it comes time to pay the bill.
I hope it helps!
A Quick Note About Tax in the Dominican Republic
When you’re working with a wedding planner, be sure to ask if tax is included in the price of the package or not. Most of the time, it’s not! And tax in the Dominican Republic can make or break your wedding budget.
Taxes in Punta Cana are high! Like 28% to be exact. (Okay, technically it’s 18% tax and 10% legal tip.)
So be prepared for this to be added to your wedding total for many different services.
So How Much Does a Destination Wedding Cost?
The real cost of your own destination wedding is going to depend entirely on the elements you choose for your day.
It will depend on your venue, the number of guests you have, the food and drinks you serve, and all of the extras that you decide to include.
You can definitely get married in Punta Cana with a small budget under $10,000, or you can decide to have a big, fancy wedding and pay over $50,000. It’s totally up to you!
Decide what feels right for you, and the rest will fall into place.