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/Stay in Costa Rica) - Tying the knot isn't what it used to be. The wedding industry is as profitable as primetime football, celebrities compete for the shortest, most gimmicky marriages (72 days or less?) and the exotic appeal of a romantic getaway has led to the widespread popularity of destination weddings
One in every 10 weddings features an exotic locale, or at least a location neither the bride nor groom calls home. While there's no absolute explanation as to why destination weddings have started a bridal takeover, the hefty price of typical weddings is reason enough for many -- especially if Daddy isn't footing the bill.
"If done correctly, destination weddings can be a cheaper alternative for everyone. Guests don't have to buy expensive gifts, just a ticket. All the money spent on the wedding party, venues, refreshments, cake, reception and decor is significantly reduced if not cut altogether,"explains Nini Pardo, wedding planner at Stay in Costa Rica, an accommodations and rental management company.
The author of "Destination Weddings for Dummies," Susan Breslow Sardone, says the traditional American wedding costs an average of $28,082, whereas destination weddings average around $20,600.
"Some of the cost difference is definitely a result of resorts and hotels capitalizing on the trend. Many now offer the full wedding package with wedding planners, musicians, photographers, etc. We employ full-time wedding coordinators, like myself, to craft intimate weddings at our Los Suenos Resort," Pardo adds. "We've found it really appealing to budget-conscious brides."
Budget-conscious brides have become a trend as well, according to Patricia MacArthur, executive director of WeddingStar.com -- a go-to authority on all things wedding-related. MacArthur says more brides are trimming expenses by taking the DIY route for guest favors and some decorative elements.
For tropical weddings especially, many of the cheaper, DIY options are more easily packed into suitcases. For instance, colorful fabric is being used to replace flowers and native delicacies are replacing towering cakes.
An extra tip from the experts, when considering the perfect setting to make your vows and possibly trash the dress: look at locations that are one flight away from you and most of your guests. Direct flights tend to be cheaper and less hassle. To learn more about saying "I do" in Costa Rica, visit www.stayincostarica.com