By Karen Perry, Travel Expert
Sure you always dreamed of a destination wedding where the backdrop to your big day was a
spectacular scene, and guests remembered your big day as a trip of a lifetime. Fast forward to
modern millennial or zee days and your friends can barely afford a bus pass, much less an
international holiday. So, how do you plan a dream destination wedding on a nightmare budget?

Location, Location, Location

Sure you imagined yourself on Santorini in a flowing gown with sunset shoots… but, keep in mind,
that’s been done to death now. Every Instababe has had her same-same shoot. The locations you
thought would be the “one” went from dreams to Instagram cliches. If you’re going to choose a
spectacular location, on a budget, look closer to home. If budget allows, think…. Indonesia, think
Papua New Guinea, think, Lord Howe Island. If the budget, both yours, and your guests, doesn’t
allow for this much leeway, think, untouched Australia. Be better than the Instacliches, be the first.

The Logistics

In 2021, we attended a wedding at Carnarvon Gorge’s Mt Moffatt where the couple were married
under a spectacular arch with a breath-taking backdrop. As the planned destination wedding in
Spain was cancelled due to Covid lockdowns and the guests weren’t to cross the border, the couple
luckily chose a time when we were all clear to travel in Queensland. The logistics were a big
challenge and only really possible because many of the guests were “outdoorsy types”. We’re
passionate about firing up our caravans in Queensland, as were many of the guests so we were able
to “host” other party guests on site. While we all pitched in and it really was the most memorable
wedding of our lives, getting the logistics right was what made it utterly unforgettable, in a good

To ensure that every guest can enjoy your wedding, there’s a few logistical considerations:

  1. Be “road tripable”. Don’t choose a destination that requires three days travel. Look for a
    showstopper location within 3 hours of your home city.
  2. Make sure there’s great accommodation options for all budgets, camping or caravanning, a
    comfy hotel for Nanna and possibly some insta-worthy glamping options.
  3. Be within an hour of the stuff you need, preferably less. A big town, that has a decent
    hairdresser/make up artist/videographer/photographer/caterer/hire
    company/accommodation options will make your life so much simpler. The ceremony can
    be out of town but there must be a town.
  4. Consider a Friday wedding. This will mean that the area has more availability of
    EVERYTHING. If you’re asking people to commit to a weekend for you, this will make their
    weekend more manageable, and everyone loves a good excuse to take a Friday off work!
  5. Make sure there is access to the ceremony site for people with mobility challenges. Don’t
    ask Nanna to abseil.
  6. Call the local councils (both the city council and the traditional owners of the land) and get
    permission/permits. No point falling love with a destination only to be told it is off limits to
    crowds or a sacred site. Don’t start your marriage on a tribal burial ground or “mens only”
    site. You may find your special day cursed by 60,000 years of ancestors!
  7. Keep access in mind – including adequate parking, and heavier vehicles.
  8. Does the site have power and toilets? If not, it is going to cost you extra to make it “guest
  9. Will you need to hire busses to get everyone there or is the reception nearby? You want
    people to feel free to drink at the reception, don’t also ask them to drive.
  10. When you send out your invitations, remember that guests will be going to additional
    expense to share in your big day. You can do a “no gifts please” addition if you’re worried
    about this, and as a bonus, you don’t have to haul 11 toasters and wine glass sets back to
    the city. Plan to have a “wishing well” at the wedding for those who insist on giving gifts.

Choose an Instagrammable backdrop and plenty of places to shoot

It’s time for you and your partner to take a few road trips. Get your “wish list” together and search
up spectacular bushwalks and natural wonders. If you can, plan to camp or take a so you can check
out any potential “overnight” problems, lighting and noise considerations. Take a few days and do a
tour of great options – don’t just hit the “trip advisor top ten” look for locations that are more

  1. Must have a spectacular ceremony site
  2. Must have a spectacular entrance backdrop
  3. Must have at least five locations for your photo shoot
  4. Must have nice light (if you find a destination you love, go there for an afternoon/early
    evening to make sure it’s well lit)
  5. Must have access for your photographer
  6. Will you need make up and hair touch ups? Is wind/heat/humidity going to be an issue?
  7. Can you do it in those AMAZING SHOES you found?

Queensland isn’t just Islands
If you were to go by Insta influencers, you’d believe that Queensland is an archipelago. Aim higher,
do better, discover original – which may mean an outback wedding, a bush wedding, rock
formations, streams, waterfalls – it’s the best way to make your wedding Instagram worthy without
spending a fortune. Because, really, that’s cheating.

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