The Thrifty Traveler: Luxury destination weddings for less

By By Myscha Theriault

McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3 2013 2:11 p.m. MDT

When the reality of the per-person cost of a wedding sinks in, spirits can sag. Here are a handful of strategies brides and grooms can use to keep costs under control while still having the wedding of their dreams.

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Wedding days are something most people wait decades to experience. With such great expectations attached to the big event, couples often have their hearts set on a luxury destination or venue. When the reality of the per-person costs sinks in, spirits can sag. Here are a handful of strategies brides and grooms can use to keep costs under control while still having the wedding of their dreams.

Timing: At the Barnsley Resort, a luxury venue an hour north of Atlanta, the timing of your event can swing the price tag significantly. Typical per-guest minimum rates for an evening event start at $100 and rise sharply from there. Book a morning brunch wedding on the other hand and your per-person cost for a gourmet breakfast buffet drops to 50 bucks. Their sweet potato pancakes and vegetarian eggs Benedict are divine, and a number of fun outdoor locations are available.

Considering the time of year can also save you big bucks on a luxury wedding at Barnsley. For example, weddings booked in 2014 between Jan. 1 and March 15 as well as events booked between July 1 and Aug. 23 receive complimentary facility rates for wedding and reception venues. Considering those fees typically range from $250 to $3,000, this is a savings secret brides and grooms won’t want to overlook. Receptions with as few as 40 guests also receive complimentary wedding coordination services. While food and beverage services will still cost you extra, the ability to save several thousand dollars by simply selecting a different date for your nuptials is significant.

Credits: Sometimes a destination will offer flight credits or subsidies in order to entice a couple to schedule their ceremony at a particular location. For example, those planning to get hitched on one of the romantic Out Islands in The Bahamas can currently score free air fare for two from Nassau if they book a four-night wedding getaway package with one of the participating hotels. This offer is good for travel through the end of October 2014. Booking deadlines and some blackout dates do apply. Myoutislands.com has further details.

Cocktails: It’s not news that the bar tab is a wedding expense which can spiral seriously out of control. Just as morning events can save money on the food costs, so too can they help reduce the overall cost of adult beverages. Sunrise services for example can feature a bloody Mary or a simple mimosa as the signature cocktail. With mimosas in particular, you are able to substitute the expensive champagne with a more affordable one since it will be mixed with fruit juice anyway. Or, you could offer a grapefruit and vodka beverage to mix things up a bit. The point is, paying precise attention to your bar choices allows abundance without taking away from monies you want to spend on your dream venue.

Location: If your chosen facility is in a particularly picturesque location with well-landscaped grounds, you may be able to virtually eliminate the need for a florist. Some hotels even throw in a wedding planner to sweeten the deal. Such is the case at Mirbeau Inn and Spa, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York. It’s an intimate venue bursting with French atmosphere, and starting rates for wedding packages of $140 per person. For a small gathering with 25 guests that rings in at $3,500, which is much less than most young couples are spending these days.

This rate also includes cocktails, a multi-course menu, and an overnight stay for the bride and groom at one of the inn’s luxury cottages featuring a fireplace and over-sized soaking tub. Mirbeau also offers $5 off per person for weddings booked on Fridays or Sundays. To save on overnight accommodations for guests, consider referring your friends and family to the Finger Lakes Lodging facility across the street, which has rates starting as low as $99 in the summer, depending on what day of the week you make your reservations.

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Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget,” and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers. She also founded TheLessonMachine.com, a website for teachers.

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©2013 McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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