Budgeting for a Wedding in St. Martin

Planning a St. Martin wedding is a lot of work; you can do it yourself, or hire a wedding planner

A wedding in St. Martin/St. Maarten is a unique experience that not everyone can say they have witnessed.  Make the most important day of your life an even more special occasion by pouring love into the planning of your wedding.  

What is the biggest secret to achieving a great St. Martin/St. Maarten wedding? The key is to begin the planning process as quickly as possible.  A good system of time management should be developed because it allows you to save time when researching choices, making reservations, and coping with any complications that may arise. Beginning early also gives you time to take advantage of any possible deals that could become available.

Hired Help

Many couples who are planning a wedding in St. Martin/St. Maarten find that the most significant obstacle is making the arrangements from afar.  Many couples hire a wedding or event planner to do what they do best - make the planning of their wedding as stress free and simple as possible. You can hire someone local to you, someone in St. Martin/St. Maarten, or choose to buy a resort wedding package.

Maps

If you choose to hire a wedding planner, make sure he or she has previous experience planning a destination wedding and has references available. Connections in the area and  knowledge of the local language and customs will help guarantee that your experience is exactly what you want and expect.  Remember, if you want your wedding planner to be on site the day of your wedding, be prepared to pay for his or her airfare and hotel stay.

Many couples find that choosing an event planner in St. Martin/St. Maarten is a great way to ensure that they have someone on the island to be their eyes and ears. This person will be able to handle every detail of your wedding, and most importantly, analyze venues and vendors in person.

Wedding packages offered by local resorts are most common and often the most reliable. Accommodations, venue, officiant, catering, adornments, and more are usually included in one flat rate. Read our guide to St. Martin/St. Maarten Wedding Locations and Venues noted at the bottom of this page for more information on resort weddings.

How to Plan a St. Martin/St. Maarten Wedding Yourself

Preparing a St. Martin/St. Maarten wedding may seem stressful but many find it a fun challenge and have successfully achieved their dream event. Stay prepared, write lists, and keep notes of every phone call and transaction you make.

Step One: Structure Your Budget

Developing a sensible budget is essential to any successful Caribbean wedding. On average, couples in the United States spend between $20,000 and $30,000 on their big day, while a wedding in St. Martin/St. Maarten can cost you as little as $2,000.  Numerous major resorts and hotels have wedding planning services that can prepare your big event down to the very last detail, and charge a single set fee for the entire package. If you decide to arrange the entire wedding yourself, consider the expenses you may encounter.

Estimated St. Martin/St. Maarten Wedding Costs Wedding Costs
Item Expected Cost
Marriage License $275.55(USD)
Photography $500 to $3000(USD)
Flowers $300 to $1500(USD)
Decorations $300 to $1500(USD)
Venue $0 to $1000(USD)
Food $25 to $50(USD) per person
Lodging $100+(USD) per night

The chart above merely addresses wedding basics, and estimates are based upon average costs of the individual items. Consider other fundamentals such as the bride's gown, the groom's tuxedo, and the wedding rings. Overall, wedding costs will change drastically depending on which items you decide are the most important.  You need to stay within a reasonable budget that is based upon your financial situation.  List items commonly associated with a wedding from maximum value to lowest value and allocate a price estimate to each item.

Items ranked in order of importance will allow you to see exactly where you may be willing to trim back and where you aren't willing to compromise.

Step Two:  Select a Theme

By this point you will have determined what style of wedding you would love to host, and the type of venue you would like to have it in. These selections will quickly trim down your list of potential vendors. Consult our guide to St. Martin/St. Maarten Wedding Locations and Venues noted below for for more information about the types of weddings available in St. Martin/St. Maarten.

Step Three: Do Your Research

Every location, vendor, resort, decoration, and method of transportation should be evaluated. Contact companies for price estimates and inform them that you are arranging your nuptials from abroad, and that they should expect many long distance phone calls and e-mail communications.  When you contract vendors sight unseen, ask for references from those who have previously used their services.

Also give consideration to the time of year in which you wish to get married, and the type of festivals and events that may occur during that time. If you want you and your guests to experience a party environment, getting married in St. Martin/St. Maarten during Carnival, for example, may be desired. However, if you would rather have an intimate, discreet event, you should consider making other arrangements.

Take the time to learn a little about the island on which you plan to marry - you may find it inspiring.  St. Martin and St. Maarten are two separate, very different countries, peacefully cohabiting on one small island.  St. Martin is the French side of the island, and St. Maarten is a former Dutch territory, so Dutch heritage plays a large roll in the country's heritage.  You may find that incorporating French and Dutch wedding traditions into your own ceremony is a fun way to honor the island on which you are getting married.  Simple things like asking your caterer to serve French or Dutch cuisine, or incorporating irises and yellow sage (St. Martin and St. Maarten's national flowers) into your bouquet or boutonnière are examples of how you can do so.  

Now would also be a good time to learn about the steps you must take to legally tie the knot in St. Martin/St. Maarten.  Most couples choose to get married on the St. Maarten side because the 10 day residency requirement is easier to adhere to than St. Martin's month long requirement.  Learn more about what is required of you when you read our guide to St. Martin Wedding Requirements and Traditions.

Step Four: Book Your Vendors

The vendors you select will essentially make or break your wedding event.  When you make your final decisions and book your vendors, explain precisely what you are looking for, and the dates you have chosen. Get all of your price quotes in writing (have them send you a quote through the post office, by e-mail, or by fax). Keep duplicates of everything including invoices of all items that are included in the price. Some businesses require a deposit. Do not send anyone payments until you have received a paper statement so as to protect yourself from any possible misunderstandings.

Step Five: Take Care of At Home Projects

Many couples wish to bring a bit of personal flair to their St. Martin/St. Maarten wedding. If you are creating or purchasing any of your wedding decorations at home, there is no better time than now to start working on this project. This may also be the time to  purchase the wedding dress and/or make arrangements to rent a tuxedo. List everything you plan on taking care of at home, and the estimated  time it will take you to accomplish it.

Step Six: Follow Up

Although you may think your arrangements are finalized, it is still important to talk to your vendors  periodically to review their progress, or to discuss any changes that need to be made. Don't worry about calling too often.  They are working for you, and you are paying them to provide these services.

Listed below are a few additional tips that will assist you in planning your St. Martin/St. Maarten wedding.

  • Consider the weather. If you are planning a wedding at an outdoor venue, make alternative arrangements in case of stormy conditions.  Typical weather conditions for that time of year should be considered when choosing your wedding attire. If you plan to marry on the beach in the middle of a hot afternoon, plan accordingly.
  • Send wedding supplies ahead of time. If you are bringing any wedding items with you from home, consider shipping them ahead to your resort or venue so that you can avoid airport hassles and restrictions.  Be sure to arrange for insurance on these items in case they are lost or damaged during shipment.

While planning a destination wedding, couples can either tackle their plans with organization and wise planning, or they can find themselves bogged down with a seemingly impossible task. If you strategize correctly, you can enjoy a relatively calm planning process. Whether you choose to plan your St. Martin/St. Maarten wedding on your own, or decide to get the assistance of specialists, following the guidelines listed above will ensure that you keep your planning done in an orderly, timely, and stress-free fashion.

 

 

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