The Nitty Gritty Details of Planning a Destination Wedding: Unexpected Fees (Part 4)

unexpected fees

Whether you’re diving into my blog series on the nitty-gritty details of planning a destination wedding or this is your first stop, you’re in the right place to uncover the hidden fees that often surprise couples, so you can help your clients avoid them.

As a destination wedding travel specialist since 2008 and a business coach for wedding and travel pros specializing in destination wedding planning, my goal with this blog series is to equip you with those small details that make a big difference.

5 Unexpected Fees Couples Should Know About

Beyond cancelation and attrition fees for group room blocks, I want to delve deeper into the lesser-known fees that wedding resorts often charge. Here are five potential extra fees you should be aware of to inform your clients and establish your expertise!

🌟 Venue Fees

I briefly mentioned this in the wedding packages post in this series, but it’s a significant one to note.

Destination weddings are becoming more customized, and couples aren’t just looking for a traditional beach wedding. To meet the needs of today’s modern couples, resorts are designing unique venues like cenotes, overwater weddings, and even allowing restaurant buyouts for receptions.

For instance, a private rooftop could come with a fee of $1,500 to $2,000, while a restaurant buyout could cost $5,000. Just because your client is getting married at a resort doesn’t mean all venues are included. Make sure you know these fees before making recommendations to your clients.

🌟 Set Up Fees

Generally, a wedding package will include the setup of basics like chairs, an aisle runner, and an altar table. Any extras, such as an acrylic platform for an overwater ceremony, usually include the setup fee in the rental cost.

However, additional setup fees can arise. For example, I had clients who paid significantly to rent specific chairs. They wanted to use these chairs for the reception at a different part of the resort, requiring a setup fee to transfer the chairs during the cocktail reception. This can also apply to moving sound equipment for different events.

Additionally, delivery of party favor bags often incurs a fee, typically around $5 per delivery. Couples should be aware of these extra costs.

🌟 Outside Vendor Fees

This one often surprises people due to its high cost. Most resorts have preferred vendors for flowers, dĂ©cor, lighting, audiovisual, and photography/videography. If a couple wants to use an outside vendor, there is usually a fee, averaging $1,000 per vendor. While this may be worth it for a beloved photographer, it’s crucial for you, as the planner, to explain this to your clients.

Preferred vendors are vetted and familiar with the resort. Allowing outside vendors means the resort takes on legal responsibility for its actions and loses out on potential revenue from the service.

I’ve used outside vendors for dĂ©cor at a few weddings. Even with the $1,000 fee, the couple saved thousands by cutting out the resort as the middleman. Networking with vendors can make you a hero to your clients.

🌟 Wedding Pass Fees

Some guests choose to stay at a nearby resort or timeshare to save money. However, these guests often miss out on the full experience of a destination wedding, which is typically a multi-day celebration. Resorts usually cap the percentage of wedding guests who can stay off-property, often around 20%. Guests who stay off-property must pay a day pass fee to attend any events, such as the welcome reception, rehearsal dinner, or wedding and reception.

Make sure to inform your clients of these policies to avoid surprises. Sometimes, the cost-saving efforts of guests staying elsewhere don’t pay off due to these fees.

🌟 Fees for Guests Booking Outside the Group

Price fluctuations and flash sales can lead some guests to book outside the group block, which can hurt the couple in many ways. One unexpected issue is the potential for additional fees for these guests to attend wedding events, even if they are staying at the resort.

When destination wedding specialists set up the group, it usually includes access to all wedding events. Guests who book outside the group may incur fees to attend these events, often paid by the couple without the guest’s knowledge. This can cause friction between the couple and guests, as well as with the onsite wedding team.

The Bottom Line

If you’re concerned about guests booking outside the group block, I have good news! We are celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the 20K System & Toolkit with a special sale. The Nation’s Premier Destination Wedding Business Course is 50% off, and we’re adding a bonus workshop to show you how to set up a wedding webpage for your destination wedding clients. This will help keep guests in the group block, ensuring the couple gets the perks and you get the payday.

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