Part 4: How much will my wedding in Jamaica cost?
Destination Weddings in Jamaica: How much does a villa wedding in Jamaica cost in 2022
Couples always want to know, “How much will my Jamaica wedding cost?”
Perhaps the most common question that we get asked about weddings is, “How much does a wedding in Jamaica cost?”
The only possible answer to that question is, “It depends”.
It depends on what you want, what your priorities are, and what you are willing to spend to make that happen.
We get it that you probably have never planned a wedding before so you have no idea what a wedding costs. On top of that, you have absolutely no idea of what to expect for a wedding in Jamaica specifically.
Binge-ing on all those wedding shows, magazines, and Pinterest boards, doesn’t help either because they create the impression that everyone just has to have one of those over-the-top weddings.
After all, how expensive could a wedding be?
The good news is that a wedding in Jamaica does not have to cost an arm and a leg. It can, but, doesn’t have to.
You still have to have a reasonable budget; but, with good prioritization, planning, and flexibility, you will be able to have a beautiful destination wedding in Jamaica that is customized to fit your needs and make you happy.
We wrote this article to try to give you a frame of reference for what sort of price ranges we are seeing in our market so you can use this information to try to prioritize your budget and estimate for yourself what you can expect for the cost of your Jamaica villa wedding. (Hotels have their own pricing which you can get from their wedding planners.)
Table of Contents
What You Should Know Before You Decide on the Preliminary Budget for Your Villa Wedding in Jamaica
- This article is specifically discussing weddings at villas in Jamaica.
- While the services mentioned in the article are perhaps the most commonly selected items by couples, they represent just a sampling of what is possible for your wedding. Our wedding planners have access to all sorts of varied services. You are not limited to what we discuss in the article.
- Think of the price ranges as guidelines based on what we are seeing in the market in 2021. Do not think of them as actual “quotes”.
- It is very possible that are there are vendors whose services are higher, or even lower than the prices mentioned. These prices are more reflective of the quality standard that a North American couple would expect. This is not to say that Jamaican couples do not want high quality for their wedding; but, their priorities are likely to be very different from North American couples.
- The prices mentioned are likely to be lower than what you will see at the hotels, especially at the all-inclusive hotels.
- Don’t add up the lower end of the price ranges and expect that you are going to be able to find every vendor at the low-end of the scale for every item that you might want and that they will be available on your specific wedding day. To do so would be courting real disappointment. Different planners use different vendors. For example, Planner A may like florist A who is pricey but may like caterer B who does great work but costs less, allowing you to stay on budget.
- The prices mentioned are in US dollars, unless otherwise noted.
- Gratuities are typically in the 10-20% range depending on the service.
- Jamaica’s general consumption tax, GCT, is 15%. Some, but not all items, are subject to this tax.
- The article does not cover items such as airfare, attire, wedding rings, invitations, and so forth, which would have been purchased outside of Jamaica and before your wedding.
Jamaica Villa Weddings: How much does a wedding in Jamaica cost?
The estimate for a wedding in Jamaica at a villa involves two on-island components:
- Lodging – which would be the rental of the villa and expenses associated with your stay
- Wedding – which would be your ceremony, reception, and any other wedding-related events or activities that you might have.
Your budget for your wedding experience, therefore, needs to cover both.
VILLA RENTAL EXPENDITURES
Villa weddings almost always require rental of the villa to host a wedding on-site. Very few villas allow one-day events. Be prepared to include the cost of your villa stay within your budget.
Most villas have a minimum night stay and require full occupancy rates for the booking. (Mais Oui Villa requires a minimum of 4 nights. Christmas and New Year’s require a 7-night minimum stay.)
Remember your rental rate covers the number of guests included in your rental agreement. Additional guests who come to hang out at the property with you will most likely be charged a day pass or resort fee.
Destination wedding guests typically pay for their own airfare, hotel, as well as any activities and meals outside of wedding events. That said, traditionally, the bride or her family pays for accommodations for the bridal party and the groom or the groom’s family does the same for the groomsmen.
According to a survey by The Knot, in 2016, 40% of couples planning destination weddings contributed money toward their guests’ travel and accommodations expenses.
This is where booking a villa vacation rental is a God-send. You book a whole house. The rental price will be the cost for your group to stay at the villa. Close friends and family, including the bridal party, therefore can be under one roof. The cost of renting a villa is generally less than the total cost of getting separate hotel rooms for everyone.
Whether or not you pay for the entire cost of the villa rental as a thank you for your guests or you have them contribute to the cost, is up to you.; however, there is the expectation that there will be one person responsible for the rental of the villa.
Don’t forget any applicable taxes and villa staff gratuities. The minimum tip for villa staff in Jamaica for weddings is 15%, with 20% being more common due to the additional effort that necessarily comes with wedding events. Plan to pay your gratuity in cash. US dollars are always appreciated and preferred.
If you are thinking of an intimate destination wedding in Jamaica, look no further than Mais Oui Villa – a boutique, fully staffed 8 bedroom private estate with all the comforts of a private home with with amenities of a resort.
MEALS AT THE VILLA
We recommend you budget about US$65-75 per person per day per registered guest for groceries. This will vary up or down based on market prices as well as how much and what your group intends to eat.
Most villas do not include meals in their rates and offer a “pay-as-you-go” approach for groceries. Others offer an all-inclusive approach. The option you take will depend on your villa as well as what will work best for your group in terms of covering the cost.
Unless, you plan on lounging around your villa all day, which is fine, you should think about your transportation needs. How will you and your guests get to and from the airport in Jamaica? How will you get around to see the sights while you are at the villa?
Most of our guests hire a van and driver service for the duration of their stay for safety, reduced cost, and convenience. When you divide the cost of the van and driver service by the number of people in your group, you will realize that it is a cost-effective approach to getting around the island. For service between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, budget about $200-300 per day or say $20-30 per person per day with 10 person minimum.
Generally, the couple pays for transportation to and from wedding-related events. Otherwise, the extent of contribution is left to the couple’s discretion.
For further reading, check out these blog posts:
VENUE or LOCATION FEE
Some villas charge a location fee above the cost of the villa rental. Location fees could be anywhere from $500 to $6000 depending on the property and the size of your wedding. Others charge a per person fee, usually ranging between $20-50 per person to attend the event and or any wedding-related events. Some properties do both.
The location fee is typically just the permission to hold the event on the property, similar to renting a banquet room at a hotel. Weddings and events create more wear and tear on the home and grounds. They also require more staff and staff hours. For these reasons, the location fee should not be confused with the staff gratuities, which are typically 15-20% of the cost of the villa rental.
Some properties charge an additional security fee or damage deposit for weddings and events.
To host a wedding at a villa, make sure you get permission to do so prior to booking since not all villas allow weddings. If you don’t, some villas will cancel your booking or charge you a heft fee since you will be in violation of their rental policies and your rental agreement. Always get permission. Remember, a villa is someone’s home.
Most villas require that couples use a wedding planner if the number of guests exceeds the occupancy of the villa.
Some wedding planners charge a flat fee for their services, which may vary from $700 to upwards of $4000 depending on the scope of responsibility. Others charge a percentage of the actual wedding spend. A few charge an hourly fee, which could be upwards of $150-250 per hour. Others include the service in their wedding package.
In most cases, a local wedding planner is a good investment as opposed to an additional cost. They know the good vendors and keep that information close to the vest! You benefit from their insider knowledge.
It costs JA$4000, or less US$30 (2021 prices), to get a marriage license if you go to the Ministry of Justice in Kingston to apply yourself. This is true as of May 2021.
The challenge, however, is that it is almost an all-day affair that involves waiting in line at different government agencies. Additionally, it can be expensive to go into Kingston via private transfer. Why waste a day of your vacation and go to the expense and hassle of going into Kingston?
To obtain the marriage license including the processing of the documents, have an officiant perform the ceremony, and then apply for and mail a certified copy of the marriage certificate to you afterward, generally, costs around $450-550, in total.
FLORAL & DECOR
Prices vary according to the specific flowers chosen, size of the arrangements, and season. Tropical, local, in-season flowers such as ginger lilies, anthuriums, and dendrobium orchids cost less than imported blooms such as roses, hydrangeas, calla lilies, and Cymbidium orchids.
Tropical bouquets using anthurium and ginger lilies, for example, start at about US$120-150 while roses and dendrobium orchids would start at about US$150. Calla lilies and cymbidium orchids would be at a higher starting point of about US$200. Bridal bouquets are larger and a little more elaborate and so cost more than bridesmaids’ bouquets.
Boutonnieres may cost between US$20 and US$40 depending on the type of flowers. Corsages, depending on the type of flowers could range from US$35-50.
Decor pricing is very hard to predict without a clear understanding of what is required. Some couples simply want a table with a floor-length cloth and a tropical centerpiece. Others may want two pedestals topped with large bountiful floral arrangements on either side of the table. Others may choose a canopy of some sort draped with fabric and topped off with a mass of flowers. All of those options and more are possible.
An arch could cost around US$500-1000 depending, for example, on whether you are using a pre-existing arch or a custom structure and also on how heavily adorned the area will be with flowers. Tropical standing arrangements might cost about US$200-300 each.
Centerpieces can also vary widely in price. Simple low tropical centerpieces may cost between US$50-100 while large centerpieces with roses, orchids, and hydrangeas might start at almost US$200 each.
Rental companies have a wide array of wedding props to use. Together with your wedding planner, there will be no shortage of options to create your special day.
WELCOME BAGS & WEDDING FAVORS
The cost of welcome bags and favors vary widely depending on the inclusions and on how much you wish to D.I.Y. Do try to think of items that would either enhance your guests’ stay in Jamaica or cement the memory of their time with you, or both. Welcome bags and favors are such a personal gesture that generally couples will decide how much they want to spend per person and then find ideas to fit that budget. You shouldn’t expect to spend under $15-20 per bag for the contents and the packaging, and that assumes a D.I.Y approach. Some couples spend more as a gesture of appreciation to their guests for coming all this way for their wedding. Others ditch these all together as being unnecessary.
The investment for the wedding meal will perhaps be one of the largest, if not the largest, portion of your wedding budget.
The cost depends on how many guests you will be hosting as well as your specific entree choices, number of choices for your main course, number of courses, serving style, and any necessary rentals/catering staff.
Average price for the wedding meal, exclusive of alcohol, will be about US$40-50 for a menu of chicken or fish. Shrimp and steak will be much more expensive, perhaps 75 – 100% more. Lobster and lamb will command some of the highest prices of all options. Plated service costs more than buffet due to higher labor costs since more wait staff are necessary.
Additional costs that go along with catering that need to be considered are the associated rental costs for dinnerware, cutlery, glassware, and serving ware. Additional wait staff, as well as staff for set up and breakdown, also need to be considered. Add to that the cost of rentals for tables, chairs, linens, and possibly a tent.
For the wedding meal, required rentals (excluding a tent), and additional staff expect the total spend to be upwards of US$80-$120 per person.
Don’t be put off by thoughts of rentals and other such concerns. (It’s actually easier than you might think. Your caterer or wedding planner will figure out what you need to rent and what quantity.)
Villa weddings, even when there is the need for rentals, usually still cost less than what many hotel venues charge for similar private service options.
Whether or not you have a bar and the type of alcohol served will greatly influence your budget. Offering a local bar or a signature drink or serving wine will do wonders for the budget.
Open local bar for 4 hours might cost US$25-35 per person while open top shelf bar would be more.
Champagne is very expensive in Jamaica and could easily be $US90-100 or more per bottle. Sparkling wines are more common and more reasonably priced. Some great rums, liqueurs, and beers are made on the island but quite a bit of alcohol is imported. An opportunity for savings in this area would be to stick to local varieties or a signature drink.
Villas rarely charge corkage fees for alcohol. Many villas instead allow their guests to purchase their own alcohol and control what is offered. There are some villas, however, that do not allow outside alcohol.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of appropriate barware rental and bartenders.
The cost of the cake will depend on the type (American or Jamaican), size, number of tiers, style or design, flavor, filling, and icing type.
A one-tiered American cake, vanilla, or chocolate flavor, would cost about $200-400 depending on the baker. The further the baker has to travel, the higher the price.
The traditional Jamaican wedding cake, made with dried raisins and currants that have been soaked in rum and wine for months, is a very rich and heavy cake that is beloved by Jamaicans, not so much by foreigners. It is also much more expensive than American cakes and starts at around US$450.
What would you like for the music for the ceremony?
Pre-recorded music is always an option and is good for the budget. Be sure to think about who will cue the music for you. Hint – it should not be one of your guests.
Would you like live music for your ceremony? Saxophonists, guitarists, keyboardists charge about US$350-500 for the first hour and $100-300 per hour after.
What about the reception? Will you create your favorite playlist and let it go all night? Or, do you want a DJ or a reggae or steel band? An average DJ might cost in the US$200/hr range. A more established DJ might charge in the $2000-3000 range for a ceremony and 4-hour reception with a designer glow booth for the DJ and dance floor lights and some extras. Simple steel bands start at about US$350 per hour. An established band with 5 pieces might be $700 per hour or almost $2000 per hour for a 12 piece band.
If your musical needs require a lot of power, you can expect that you will need to rent a portable generator as the electrical system of many villas may simply not be able to accommodate such power needs. These run about $350-450 price range. Wedding planners are accustomed to making these arrangements.
PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY
Prices vary significantly based on the number of photographers used, number of hours of shooting time, photography style, quantity of photos, quality of equipment, inclusion of copyright release, level of experience of the photographer, and presentation of the deliverables whether an album, CD, USB flash drive, or electronically.
A local photographer who caters to more local couples may start at around US$500 for 36-50 photos. A more mid-range photographer may charge US$1000-1200 for 3-4 hours of photography delivering 200-300 edited images, A high-end photographer with a more journalistic style and a following on Instagram might charge upwards of US$3000-$4000 per event.
The same is true for videography. A videographer who primarily does local weddings might deliver a 30-minute video to cover the ceremony and reception highlights for US$600-1000.
If videography is very important to you, you could choose a package offering two videographers, full coverage of the wedding from getting dressed through the ceremony and reception inclusive of drone coverage and professional audio for upwards of US$4000.
How important are photos and video to you? How much of your budget do you wish to attribute to cinematography?
Destination weddings often involve multiple events. Will you want a photographer or videographer at each one or only for the main event?
A new option to consider in a post-COVID world, is live streaming. Is this something you wish to consider?
ACTIVITIES & OTHER EVENTS
If you are arranging specific tours, activities, or other events that are considered “wedding events”, then those would fall under your budget. If they are mere suggestions for activities that your guests might enjoy, then they would be your guests’ responsibility.
For further reading, check out these blog posts:
Whether you are planning the simplest of events or the most lavish, we hope that this information gives you enough preliminary details to help you start trying to answer the question all couples want to know – How much does a wedding in Jamaica cost, specifically a Jamaica villa wedding?
Remember, these are just ballpark prices to give you an idea of costs in our local Jamaican wedding market. Don’t forget that these are not “our prices”. Prices are set by the respective vendors and are subject to change. Your actual wedding costs will depend on a host of factors, such as the size of your guest list, your vision, budget, priorities, and the vendors selected for your event. Also, always add an extra 15% or so for contingency.
Share this article with anyone in your inner circle who will be helping you with the final decisions and or contributing financially to the wedding investment.
If you think you might be interested in a villa wedding at Mais Oui Villa in Jamaica, contact us so we can see how to help you make it happen! We’d love to host your wedding.
What do you need to create the perfect Jamaica wedding ? Let us know! Create your own custom package. Each couple is different and we would love to help.
Til next time.
Think and dream Jamaica!
Sherry, Darrell, and Darrian
Considering a visit to Jamaica with a group? Contact us today for more information about, Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa, our boutique 8-BR ocean view Jamaica villa rental experience in beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Perfect for multi-generational families and groups, retreats, bachelorette getaways, and intimate destination weddings and vow renewals.
Visit our website: https://MakeItJamaica.com