The proposal may have come as a surprise, but what shouldn't at this point is just how much that resulting wedding is going to cost you. Because whether you've said "I do" once before, stood at the altar as a member of a wedding party, or simply attended a destination wedding, you know just how pricey they can be -- and if you've forgotten, the father of the bride is often more than willing to remind you yet again. But this doesn't mean you have to quash your dreams of getting married overlooking the ocean or on a hillside retreat. We did our research and found eight romantic locales where you can have a beautiful destination wedding on a budget.
Belize offers visitors more diversity than your run-of-the-mill beach destination, and flight prices are about the same as those you'd find to popular wedding locales such as Mexico. Not only does Belize boast beautiful sandy beaches, but it's also home to lush rainforests, Mayan ruins, and the second largest barrier reef in the world. And once you're there, it's easy enough to save some green -- and go green, for that matter. Belize has very few expensive mega-resorts and instead is dotted by eco-lodges and inns where room-and-board can be found cheap -- if you're willing to give up some "luxuries" such as air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. Another perk? With lobster being a local specialty, it comes much cheaper here than stateside, so you can impress wedding guests with a lobster dinner for a lot less.
Where to Wed: The owners of the affordable Portofino Beach Resort have been helping to plan laid-back weddings for over a decade.
If your heart is set on a beach destination wedding, choosing a stateside locale will definitely help you (and your guests) save, and Destin is a great option for budget-friendly nuptials. Less expensive than Florida hot spots such as Miami and Panama City Beach, Destin offers a quieter, quainter vibe and rates that are affordable no matter the season.
Where to Wed: Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village is one of the most popular wedding hotels in Destin for good reason; it features a beautiful outdoor deck with a grand staircase for the bride to make her entrance.
Vermont, with its quaint villages and scenic landscapes, is probably your best bet for a back-to-nature, budget-friendly wedding. If you can totally see yourself posing for the pre- or post-wedding photos along tumbling streams, thick woodlands, and gorgeous views, search no more. The state's small, cozy inns and B&Bs are perfect for intimate weddings and small receptions, and the green meadows and steep mountains make for great backgrounds when reciting your vows. You will probably need to hire a shuttle bus to transport your guests, as Burlington’s is the only major airport serving the entire state, but the scenery you'll discover as a result will be well worth it -- and the cost of transportation pales in comparison to what you'd pay for the same in numerous other locations.
Where to Wed: The historic Grafton Inn is a popular choice for weddings due to its picturesque location and reputation for delicious food.
Sedona is becoming an increasingly popular destination for weddings, not only because it’s relatively more affordable than other areas nearby, but also because of its stunning desert-meets-forest scenery. Sedona’s famous red rocks are the perfect backdrop for the ceremony -- especially at sunset -- and the region’s numerous resorts offer all a couple might need before, during, and after their wedding day. From hikes to the red rocks to guided tours to Sedona’s “vortexes” (concentrations of spiritual energy) and great shopping, there's so much for visitors to do here that guests will probably be more than happy to take a few days off to celebrate your nuptials.
Where to Wed: One of the top value hotels in Sedona, Bell Rock Inn will help you and your guests save some cash -- and it doesn't hurt that it sits on picturesque Highway 179 in the Village of Oak Creek.
The Dominican Republic almost always makes the list of affordable beach destinations. Not only is it relatively easy to get to -- with direct flights leaving from the U.S. and Europe daily -- but it is filled with all-inclusive resorts, many of which offer affordable package deals. Plus, conveniently for couples on a tight budget, peak wedding season falls largely during the D.R.'s off season, which means cheaper flights, cheaper room rates, and more tranquil hotel atmospheres for your big day. Sure, June through September can be very hot and humid, and hurricanes are a possibility in the later months, but c'mon, what're the chances?!
Where to Wed: Couples at Natura Cabanas -- where rustic-chic rooms lack TVs and A/C -- can say "I do" on the private beach or in the Templo del Saber (Temple of Knowledge).
Savannah, settled in 1773, is one of the best-preserved spots in the South; those planning a classic, traditional wedding will probably find Savannah to be their perfect match. With its gorgeous historic mansions, quaint cobblestone streets and pretty public squares, the city provides a beautiful backdrop for the big day -- and it's an equally beautiful, but less expensive, alternative to a destination such as Charleston. While Savannah is not known for its nightlife, it’s legal to consume alcohol outdoors in the historic downtown area, so you can even take the post-rehearsal dinner party outside if the weather is nice.
Where to Wed: Certainly not the least expensive B&B in Savannah, Dresser Palmer House has rates that nonetheless generally stay under $200/night and the grounds are truly lovely. Couples can splurge by booking the entire house for a weekend, or opt for the more budget-friendly elopement package.
It may not have an international airport, but Negril is nonetheless easy and relatively inexpensive to get to (visitors fly into the airport at Montego Bay and then take a shuttle), and boasts some of the cheapest digs in Jamaica -- which is already one of the more affordable of the Caribbean islands. Famous for its Seven Mile Beach -- one of the softest and longest beaches in the country -- Negril is a popular spot for destination weddings, and couples and guests can save cash here in many ways: Not only are the room rates low (the area is home to an eclectic jumble of beachfront motels, cliffside cottages, and hippie bungalows), but public transportation is convenient, safe, and cheap, and you can find excellent seafood at nearly all of the hole-in-the-wall spots along the beach.
Where to Wed: To ensure each couple gets plenty of attention, the Rockhouse Hotel limits weddings to one per week (with a max of 20 per year). Rates, though, which are about one-third of those at the slightly chicer Caves, are likely what will really make couples happy.
Lake Tahoe, CA
Lake Tahoe is probably better known for skiing than weddings, but around 300 days of sunshine annually, a wide range value hotels, and lots to do in the area make it a solid pick for a budget-friendly destination wedding, too. Couples can say “I do” against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful lakes in the U.S., hold the reception in a charming alpine lodge-style venue, and then spend their first days as a married couple hiking the area's scenic trails -- all for an extremely reasonable price. It's a great option for San Franciscans in particular, as the drive takes just about three and a half hours.
Where to Wed: The entire Olympic Village offers numerous spots to wed, including in the peaceful garden at the Olympic Village Inn.