One of the most frequently asked questions, I hear from potential clients is “What is it really like to have a destination wedding in Cabo?”
For brides who spend their lives googling Cabo as a potential wedding destination please read this authentic information below on what you can expect to spend for your destination wedding in Cabo. I’ve used the most frequently asked questions from my clients and followed the questions with comprehensive answers below.
What’s the best thing about having a destination wedding in Cabo?
There are so many reasons to have your destination wedding in Cabo, but to me, one of the best things about it is that you will truly be able to enjoy your wedding. I say that for one reason: fewer people will attend. I know that sounds like a negative, but it is, in fact, a positive.
Only people that truly want to be there will make the effort to come. In turn, you will be able to spend more quality time with the most important people in your life. The other massive benefit is you will immediately save money because it will be a more intimate celebration.
What’s the most expensive part of a Cabo destination wedding?
Without a doubt, the most expensive part of a wedding is Food & Beverage – The average food and beverage in Cabo is $225 USD per person at a resort (not including 16% tax and 15% service fee).
This is always a tough one to swallow when brides and grooms reach out to venues, the pricing can be difficult to understand, so when I put out that number it can be a bit of a shock. Transparency is important and my team and I are always honest. Even if it sometimes means losing business in the short term.
We always want to give our clients the best value and clear pricing.
Another point that I find really confuses our clients are food and beverage minimums. Most hotels have them and some times they are much lower than what an actual wedding costs. Brides and grooms often breeze through that information and if they see a food and beverage minimum of $10,000 USD they will take that estimate as the total cost of the event, when in fact in some cases it is triple that. I always say “Read the Fine Print.” We prefer to lay everything out and the rate I’ve stated here is a good mid average.
What does that price generally cover?
That price can actually get you a lot!!
That gets you appetizers, a 3-course meal, and (depending on venue) a 4 to 5-hour bar. Also included in that rate is all staff and service. On occasion, you can get your wedding cake or site fees included however it varies from venue to venue.
The good news is that the food, the service and the ambiance of all of Cabos magical venues are sheer perfection!!! We do not do the typical wedding food fare and our bar service is just that – Service. The service team is always on hand taking orders and serving drinks.
I have heard horror stories from our US-based clients with respect to huge bar lines, cold food and an overall indifference with respect to service. Not here in Cabo! We appreciate your business and we want you to have the best time ever.
What’s the biggest surprise for brides when they start making inquiries?
Cost comparisons can be a real shocker!
Prices in Cabo are comparable to venues in hometowns like Colorado, Dallas, New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles. The fixed costs are very, very similar to costs in the United States. However, you need to know that we can change that for you if you’re willing to think outside the box.
You also need to know that the service standards and quality of your experience are as sophisticated as you would have in the States and thus you are getting the best of both worlds.
A magical destination with the standards and quality of some of the worlds best restaurants and venues.
What do you mean by thinking outside the box?
People don’t realize that the biggest benefit of working with a wedding planning service like Amy Abbott Events is the enormous amount of creativity we have. We are planning and budgeting masters. We work with all sizes of budgets and can make incredibly simple but effective recommendations on venue, flowers or receptions so we can get your budget down to a level that’s comfortable for you.
What about thinking outside of the box for the wedding itself?
It’s always fun to get creative with wedding venues. If you stay at a villa and have your actual wedding there, I think you can have a lot more value, as long as the villa is event friendly. We can bring in taco vendors, street carts, paletas, and Elote carts. We’ve set up fun Mexican Kermes’s before and the events have a feeling of abundance, all with flavors that will leave your guests impressed.
You can have all of this and at half of what a rehearsal dinner would have cost in a restaurant or a hotel. When you stay at a house, you have a lot more financial freedom, that’s for sure. You have much more freedom in most villas. You can use your own vendors or you can bring your own alcohol and that, my friends, is the golden ticket and an awesome way to save on budget. And at the same time, you’ll be able to serve your friends your favorite top-shelf brands and wine.
Oh, the things you can do! 🙂
Another way to save is to give off the beaten path restaurants a chance to impress you with what they have. There are always options – and we’re here to do the research for you.
What’s a surprising fact about a Cabo wedding?
Our site fees are significantly less expensive than in the United States. Some of our most requested venue site fees are in the $5000 USD range where their equivalent stateside would run $15-20k.
That is a REALITY and our venues are Rockstar Level!!! (See, savings everywhere!)
What about having a wedding in a Cabo restaurant? Is it possible to do that?
Absolutely, you can have your wedding at a local restaurant with an epic ambiance or an incredible oceanfront view. Sunset Mona Lisa or Hacienda Cocina are beautiful venues. They do a ton of business though, so to have either of these spaces 100% to yourselves would require plenty of advanced notice.
Be warned: Minimum consumption for most local high-end quality restaurants in Cabo can be more than $25,000 USD plus tax and service, which you would spend anyway with 80 to 100 people, so it is a viable option.
What’s the most challenging part for a Destination Management/Event Planner in Cabo?
Flowers are difficult to get in Cabo. We typically get them from Mexico City. We do not have a trade agreement with the United States. Because of that, flowers do tend to be more expensive. If we can’t find it for you in Mexico City, we have to order it from Holland or from Ecuador.
This is NOT a conspiracy (I promise XOXO).
We would love to be able to walk into a florist shop or market and hand pick our flowers and be able to take you to see all the flowers. That would be a dream come true for us!! This is something that we clarify with our clients “straight out of the gate,” however in many, many cases, it is a source of frustration from bride’s who hear from their friends getting married in the States about how they were able to go to the floral shop with the florist and pick out each flower and that they spent much less.
Sadly, that is just not an option here.
Don’t fret, however! We have your back!!
On your wedding day, your flowers are going to be beautiful, and the centerpieces, bouquets, place card accents, are going to be mind-blowingly gorgeous!! To add to that, we have worked with countless stateside florists and we find that our prices are still competitive to exceptional florists in the States. Cabo florists (in most cases), do not charge as much for their artistry, and I’m happy to say that we have excellent floral design here.
If you are doing a mid to high-level wedding, you’re not going to spend any more on flowers in Cabo than you would in the United States. That is a good thing to know!!
Let’s say I’m a bride with a small wedding budget. What would $5000 USD get me?
This is where we always feel SO horrible as the truth is event planners are people pleasers and in our hearts, we want to help EVERYONE. It is always hard to get on the phone and talk at length only to discover that the client has a budget that is not plausible for a Cabo destination wedding.
It is possible that you could have 20 people for $5,000 if you stayed in an all-inclusive hotel. The price is usually less than half of the average food and beverages if your guests are staying there. That’s a great way to save costs.
If the idea of an all-inclusive doesn’t sound ideal, we could probably do an intimate beach ceremony, then go and have a nice dinner. Instead of a DJ, we would plug in your iPod to a speaker. The problem here is with that budget, there is no space for a planner, and so an all-inclusive may just be the best way to go.
What’s the average spend on a Destination Wedding in Cabo?
That is the burning question LOL. Truthfully I would estimate, $60,000 USD – $70,000 USD for approximately 80-100 guests. I’d say for 50 guests you would be looking at around $30,000 USD – $40,000 USD. It really depends on the client’s needs and budget. I find that our clients have exquisite and well-defined tastes, and are “Experience Seekers.” They are okay with spending if they can see the authenticity and the value that a luxury experience will provide.
Supply & Demand
The other thing that you have to understand is supply and demand. If you stay in LA, you get your DJ for $1,000, so your first instinct is to have that same expectation. Put it into perspective that there are probably 100,000 DJs in Los Angeles. Cabo, on the other hand, has two or three good companies. You have to understand that dynamic. Then if you bring your own DJ, you still have to pay almost the same …because you have to find the equipment locally.
However all of that said, people say to us all the time, it was the very best experience of their life and worth spending the money.
What’s the best way people can save money on a destination wedding in Cabo?
I would say flowers and furniture rentals because we can always be more creative with them. If a bride is willing to go with a less expensive florist and rely on our creativity and our work with them, that always helps. They also have to know that the actual colors and quality of flowers will vary based on whom you choose. Not every florist has access to the same lovely flowers and that can be confusing.
We work with a florist who makes the effort to travel to Europe to build relationships with her vendors and who thinks nothing of jumping on the plane to Mexico City and turning around the next day if it means she will have the best of flowers. Her flowers are exquisite, but of course, they are going to cost more as the quality is higher and she has to order so many more to make sure they arrive in the best quality. (Yes in most cases, your flowers have traveled farther than you have for your wedding XOXO)
Tell us about equipment and furniture rentals for Cabo destination weddings?
Regarding rentals, every single thing has a cost and that is something that needs to be absorbed.
The napkin has a cost.
The charger has a cost.
The table has a cost.
The cost of delivery, pickup and labor averages around 25%. People sometimes ask us, “Why are we paying so much?” What most people don’t realize is that if you have a wedding for 100 people, chances are on the day of your wedding there are upwards of 70 people working at your wedding. It is always so touching and exciting to see the wheels turning on the day of an event.
There’s a tremendous amount of labor and love that goes into the planning of your amazing destination wedding!
What’s the biggest frustration about planning a Destination Wedding in Cabo from a wedding planners perspective?
I feel like sometimes we lose business because of our proposal transparency. A hotel will quote $60 USD per head for dinner, then $20 USD per head for the bar and then they will say + tax & service fees. What we do is add up all those numbers and show the absolute final number, and show them the reality of how many hours, the bar should be, etc. For example, many hotel proposals will have three-hour bars quoted and in my experience, the minimum is 4 hours and the average is 5 to 6 hours.
I can’t tell you how many times after showing a proposal to a potential client, they will then tell us that a hotel has quoted them so much less than what ours shows. But that is often because the client does not have an understanding of the price structure. We don’t want our clients to have any big financial surprises, so we will always fully disclose as close to possible about as many elements of the budget as we can.
What’s the best thing about working with a wedding planner?
The main thing that I think is great about working with a wedding planner is we really will work with your budget. We’re event planners, we’re not a rental company nor a floral company. It’s our job to advocate for our clients and find them the best rates possible. A wedding planner will not lock you into only using specific vendors or have you sign a contract that says you must use all their equipment etc.,
I had the great opportunity of listening to Mindy Weiss, whom I have always admired as she spoke at an Engage conference a couple of years ago in Cancun. She said it best, when the first thing she said as she arrived at the podium, was,
“You are either a florist, or a rental company, or a wedding planner, but you are not all 3.”
That statement really resonated with me and validated how we run our business. I follow her work and admire the fact that while she has strong vendors she works with all the time, she does switch vendors from event to event based on her needs and I think that is an admirable trait in a planner.
Our team knows all the vendors in town. When a bride and groom ask me for a specific thing, I know exactly where to get it. Alternatively, I will also be able to tell our client what isn’t possible, to save them going on a wild goose chase. We are constantly developing relationships with vendors and collaborating with them on design, giving them input on what the clients are looking for. We are always working to get the best possible design at the best possible price.
What’s something that people tend to overlook but shouldn’t?
Transportation for guests is really important. It’s common for brides and grooms to think that guests can just take a cab. What they don’t realize is that cab drivers may not be familiar with the venue and here in Cabo Uber is new and most of the cars are more European style and not meant to bring a lot of guests and they really rely on GPS, and that just is not as developed as it should be yet.
In your experience, what are people really looking for in a Destination Wedding in Cabo?
I think that the common thread is people want to be together. That’s where the blessing of staying in one place can come in! The other thing is sometimes if you get married in an offsite venue, a lot of times brides will give two options. They’ll give a budget option, and then they’ll give the option that they’re staying in. They’ll also give our email, and we’ll help people with options. They might even use Airbnb or VRBO.
Sometimes people don’t want to contact a planner, as they fear that the minute they do they will feel obligated to work with them. What do you want to say about that?
People shouldn’t be scared of contacting us to have an informal chat whether they decide to move forward or not. Email us for a consultation. We always love a phone call, so we can get to know them. We are always devoted to the best negotiations, the best venues, the best price, and the best service. We’re committed to getting top value for your dollar.
Working with a hotel can be more limiting due to the set packages and the in-house furniture they provide. Hotels will tell you themselves that they’re not event planners. They’ll say that they do not plan your event. They’ll send you to deal directly with external vendors, should you want some extra services that they can’t provide.
When you work with someone like us, we work with you and advocate for you. We liaison with the vendors on your behalf unless you really want to contact them yourself. We know to do meetings on weekdays because vendors aren’t available on weekends.
When people collaborate with us, they know our staff and event planners by their first names. It’s an extremely special and intimate day and we always pull it off seamlessly. It’s worth mentioning that we are problem-solving ninjas. 😉
What would your advice be for a girl whose ultimate dream is to get married in Cabo?
I would tell her she will have a phenomenal experience, but she needs to be realistic in her spending expectations. The reality is that the price will end up being similar to what they will spend at home, but the experience will be a hundred times better. A Cabo destination wedding experience is so much better for the guests too.
After all the years of doing Cabo destination weddings, it’s just so much darn fun and that is coming from someone who is working them! There’s a welcome party, then a rehearsal dinner, you’re going to meet everyone by the pool, it’s three days of gluttony and joy!
What ways do brides try to save, that they shouldn’t?
Sometimes brides will cut things out at the last minute to save themselves a few hundred dollars because they feel like they are overspending. Typically they will choose to cut something out of the décor. But I have to tell you; those final last-minute cuts definitely make an impact.
My advice is that if you have the money, then don’t take it out. These little details, from the itineraries to the welcome bags, cocktail table centerpieces, lush ceremony installs and statement pieces have a large effect on the whole vibe of the event. You don’t need to go over the top, but do add details where you can.
If it’s really something that you cannot afford, then obviously remove it. But if you’re cutting a $500 US expense for your $600 USD Jimmy Choo’s – then I say buy them both. Buy them both, because it really does make a difference.
The most frequent thing that I hear people say is that we were the best value for their investment. The next is ‘I’m so glad I took your advice on the flowers’.
Every single wedding is different.
If I know you’re on a budget, I’m not going tell you to get the different glassware; I’m not going tell you to rent the flatware. If I know you’re on a budget, I’ll do my best to make sure we are working within your parameters.
Here’s to planning your dream Cabo destination wedding.