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?” What are the costs, best luxury hotels for guests to stay in, and what are the best/most beautiful venues for the event to take place
For brides who spend much of their time researching on Instagram, Tiktok, or 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. I am updating these costs as things have changed dramatically since I first published this information.
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. Since the pandemic weddings have truly increased in numbers, but it can still be a great way to keep a more intimate wedding.
The 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. Your wedding will be made more memorable as instead of spending one evening with them, you can enjoy multiple events.
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 $350 USD per person (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 sometimes 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 the 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 food service and the ambiance of all of Cabos magical venues are sheer perfections!!! 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. Combine that mentality with fresh seafood, amazing chefs, and the world’s greatest margaritas, and you have yourself a recipe for a wonderful destination wedding weekend.
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. It is important to realize that Cabo is a luxury venue, and the prices are reflected in all elements of the planning, from food and beverage, venue fees, rentals, florals, production, etc. The good news too is 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 world’s best restaurants and venues. If you are willing to think outside the box, there are ways to save a little or at least have a more experiential type of wedding.
What does it mean to think 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 are able to do magic with production, floral, and rentals here and have an arsenal of contacts that accentuate and elevate our events.
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 late-night 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.
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!
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 – $10000 USD range whereas their equivalent stateside would run $15-20k. Like America, the top venues, like Flora Farm, Acre, and Puerto Raiz book in advance, so it is best to book those spots ahead of time if you can.
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.
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 for brides 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.
Sadly, that is just not an option here, and knowing and understanding that in advance is going to make your planning much less stressful. Sometimes clients will ask what the native flowers of Baja are and our honest answer is there aren’t any.
Don’t fret, however! We have your back!!
On your wedding day, your flowers are going to be beautiful, and the centerpieces, bouquets, and 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 with 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 an excellent floral design here. If you are doing a 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!! Another great perk is that planners here do full mockups with the tablespaces and the florals so you are able to see the BIG picture of what your wedding will be like. This is such a GREAT opportunity for us to gear up for the big day and to really enjoy the planning with our clients as well as to nail down all the important details so that the wedding weekend is more relaxing.
LET’S SAY I’M A BRIDE WITH A SMALL WEDDING BUDGET. WHAT WOULD $20000 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 30 people for $20000 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 your iPod into 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 a good estimate from a luxury wedding is between $1000 to $1500 per wedding guest, based on your level of production, venue, design, and specifications, 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. They are willing to invest in the weekend and they delight in the availability to host their guests.
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. The mistake is to constantly compare your wedding planning experience with the planning process in the states as you are comparing apples with oranges.
However, all of that said, people say to us all the time, it was the very best experience of their life and worth each penny. Our clients also comment on the high quality of inventory, the excellent service from our vendors and our team, and the overall commitment to their experience. WE LOVE taking care of our clients and we are not having fun if they are not having fun, so let’s all have fun together.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY PEOPLE CAN SAVE MONEY ON A DESTINATION WEDDING IN CABO?
The best way to save money 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 they 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 28%. 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. Our vendors pay living wages and hire exceptional talent.
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 PLANNER’S PERSPECTIVE?
I feel like sometimes we lose business because of our proposal transparency. A hotel will quote $100 USD per head for dinner, then $30 USD per head for the bar an hour, 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. We try and think ahead to the hard costs.
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 or 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 clients what isn’t possible, to save them from 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. It is important to note also that prices in Cabo are very similar to prices in the states. You will save in some areas, but not in others.
WHAT’S SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE TEND TO OVERLOOK BUT SHOULDN’T?
Transportation for guests is 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 us 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. Be Patient with us and our timing though as with the demand for Cabo Weddings, we have all had a hard time keeping up and do not want to over-extend our team.
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, and you’re going to meet everyone by the pool, it’s three days of gluttony and joy!
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. It is all in the details.
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.
What are the top Luxury Hotel Venues in Cabo right now?
Now there are SO many GREAT options that are wedding friendly.
What I have seen in my clients is that they like to follow brands across the world, and now as destination planners, we are starting to follow them at least around Mexico which has been fun and we have started doing weddings in Mayakoba, Punta Mita, San Miguel Allende, and Cancun.
Some of the Hotel brands in Cabo, we love for weddings are Auberge resort, Chileno Bay Resorts and Residences, and Esperanza. Both venues are accommodating, have beautiful venue spaces, and competitive pricing. The Montage is a wonderful hotel nestled in the beautiful Santa Maria Bay. The hotel has quickly become a favorite for our clients. The Waldorf Astoria, The Cape, and Hacienda Residences are three fabulous venues for those who like to be close to all the action of Cabo but want that 5 Star Vibe as well as proximity to Cabo restaurants and beaches.
On the San Jose end, you have the iconic Las Ventanas hotel which is known for its ultra-luxury service. The newest luxury hotel is The Ritz Carlton Reserve in San Jose Del Cabo, which is an exceptional resort with a desert tropical feel and a luxurious and calming environment for weddings, corporate events, and weekend getaways.
Here’s to planning your dream Cabo destination wedding.