How to Plan a Travel Themed Wedding (on a Budget)

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Hi, friends. This is a two-pronged post. One aspect of it is how to plan a travel themed wedding that you and your guests will love. The second is, how to do this without breaking the bank.

If you’re on a budget (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) and you love travel and adventure, then this is the post for you! Read on for inspiration and advice on how to incorporate your love of the world into the ultimate celebration of your love.

How to Plana Travel ThemedWedding(On a Budget)

You’re engaged!! Congratulations!

Or maybe you’re just browsing for the future. That’s cool too. What girl doesn’t have a secret wedding Pinterest board she’s been pinning to for years? If you’re into a travel wedding theme, there are tons of ideas on there.

Well, it’s never too soon to start thinking about what you want for your wedding. Personally, I found that thinking ahead was pretty helpful once we were officially engaged and began our wedding planning. I’d already narrowed down my style and any major must-haves. And Nathan’s proposal was not a total surprise. We had talked and knew we wanted to get married and we even had our time frame tentatively set. Once Nathan popped the question, the real planning got underway. We decided to have our wedding exactly 6 months after our engagement. This would send a lot of bridezillas screaming for the hills, because most wedding planning guides start the timeline about 18 months out! Not for us. We never wanted to have a long engagement and we knew we could plan what we wanted in a short amount of time. If you’re planning a wedding in 6 months, it is definitely doable.

We also knew it would be fun to incorporate our love of travel into our wedding day. And now, with just about one month to go, our planning is mostly complete and we’re much wiser on the whole wedding planning thing. We aren’t pros, we are just real people, so here are our tips for how to plan a travel themed wedding on a budget.

**Update: We’re Married! Have a peek at our wedding day and see more of our travel themed decor.


Keep it Simple

Oh, Pinterest. I love you and I hate you. Pinterest is a gold mine for travel wedding inspiration. But what you see online is sometimes a little over the top and excessive. Sure, I’d love to give our wedding guests hand-engraved compasses, but that’s a bit out of the budget.

When you’re doing a wedding with any kind of “theme” it can be so easy to get swept away. Even without a theme this is true. But the wedding industry is smart. There are soooo many adorable things you can get for your wedding day. If you wanted, you could spend an absolute fortune, and you’d have the sweetest little travel-themed details, but all these trappings aren’t strictly necessary. To save money on your travel themed wedding, keep it simple.

Travel themed wedding invitations are so much fun. But what will your design be? Invitations designed to look like airline tickets are totally cute. But all that paper and printing adds up. And chances are, guests won’t be saving your invitations. Instead, consider simplifying that aspect and directing your funds elsewhere. My lovely maid of honor Haley, who is also a talented artist, designed and printed our invitations for us as our wedding gift. They were so special, so personalized, and so “us,” it was definitely better than anything we could have purchased. Look for ways to DIY something like your travel wedding invitations…you’ll be glad you did.

travel themed wedding invitation
Our wedding invitation

We’ve also kept other things simple. Our flowers will be relatively small bouquets, we don’t have much in the way of extra decor (choosing a gorgeous venue helps with this), and we’re doing a buffet-style dinner. These are great ways to trim the budget while still having all the elements you want.

Keep it Classic

No matter what theme you want to go with, a classic style is a great way to have a beautiful, timeless wedding as well as an opportunity to save money. Many classic styled wedding items are easier to find and thus come in a larger price range. For us, the classic feel came out of our venue (a 1920’s stone manor) and our own personal taste. We like vintage things, old books, muted colors, antique globes, etc. Going with a style like this made our color scheme more flexible, which in turn made it easier to find things in a range of prices. Choosing highly specific hues can be a budget-killer, as you may have to pay extra to source the items you want. But I wasn’t fussed. As I’ve said before, I’m a very non-bridezilla bride. In fact, when the bridesmaid dresses I wanted would have to be rush-ordered, I went ahead and changed the color. I’d rather not stress and be flexible on my color scheme. Doing a classic style helps with this as it can be easier to mix and match when your colors are more traditional.

Going with a classic vintage travel themed wedding also allowed us to be very loose with our centrepieces and table decor. In fact, this is one part of wedding planning that isn’t quite finished. Instead of numbering our tables, we named them after countries we have been to. We got our table cards from a lovely shop called Bellus Designs, and sticking with our vintage style, got them in neutral colors. This means our table decor can be a bit of a hodge podge (and it will be). We don’t have specifically travel themed centerpieces. Insted, we’ve been patronizing thrift stores and grabbing up any random pretty, travelly, antiquey things we can find. We’ll have old books, colorful empty bottles, candles, travel trinkets, globes, and more. Each table will be unique and different. We don’t mind a lack of uniformity, and this is an awesome way to stay within your budget! Also, it’s a lot of fun.

Tables named for countries: a must for your travel themed party decorations

Keep it Small(ish)

If you want to save money on a wedding, probably the best thing you can do is cut your invite list. It seems harsh, I know, but a small wedding is way more budget-friendly. Our wedding is going to end up being 75 people. Funny, it’s exactly what we estimated! A small wedding saves you money in a few ways, but especially in food and alcohol, which are two of the higher cost items. If you know a million people and you want to have all of them at your wedding, you might want to consider minimizing costs by serving heavy hors d’oeuvres or a buffet instead of a sit-down dinner. Why not have a buffet with foods from all over the world? That’s a fantastic travel themed idea.


Keep it Subtle

Big, loud, and flashy often equals expensive. Instead, make your theme more subtle and understated. You can incorporate little touches throughout your wedding to pay homage to your love of travel. Use postcards you’ve collected as part of your decor, sprinkle your tables with tiny airplane confetti, bring traditions you’ve discovered on your travels into your wedding celebration. Your wedding can still have at travel theme without needing to fill the room with “themed” items. In fact, adding subtle suggestions of travel lets the wedding be its most personal and unique to you and your partner.

Should You Skip the Favors?

We ended up providing our guests with cute little antique key-shaped bottle openers. These were attached with a cute note. Unfortunately, we failed to tell our guests what they were, and many were left behind. We loved the key touch (it was a slightly different take on travel themed wedding favors) but there are so many options, from compasses, to postcards, to luggage tags and more. The cost of favors, however cute they are, seriously adds up. Even inexpensive favors at a few dollars a pop can quickly turn into a few hundred. Keep this in mind when planning your budget, and consider if favors are really important to you.

Keep it Real

A wedding is traditionally a formal event, but you have the freedom to be as casual as you want. Approaching your wedding in a more relaxed manner is another option for staying within your budget. Trade tux rentals for button-ups and suspenders, have your bridesmaids go barefoot and wear short dresses, or keep it super relaxed and host the wedding in your backyard. This type of wedding isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great way to save on unnecessary expenses and still have the wedding you want. And when you save money in one area, you can use it elsewhere, like on your honeymoon! (After all, you do love to travel).


Keep it About the Marriage, Not the Wedding

At the end of the day, the focus of your upcoming event should not be about the wedding itself, it should be about your marriage. Remember that the wedding represents only one day in your lifetime; your marriage will hopefully last for the entirety of that lifetime. Spending more time considering your commitment and working on preparing for marriage is ultimately more valuable to you then obsessing over linen colors or finding the perfect travel themed decor. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or starting to blow out your budget, come back to what it’s all about: you and your partner. If you keep your eyes on the two of you and your future, your wedding will be a wonderful experience, travel themed or otherwise.

Amy (2)

4 thoughts on “How to Plan a Travel Themed Wedding (on a Budget)”

  1. Eee Amy it’s so exciting. I’ve just spent the morning collecting pins on Pinterest! Your artist friend is very talented, what a lovely invitation. So many positive vibes to you from fellow travel blogger – bride – to – be! Ps All about the marriage, not the wedding – excellent choice of words.

  2. Such a lovely, positive post 🙂 My husband and I got married on a beach in Thailand and it was the best decision ever. I definitely agree with you that it’s not about the wedding, but the marriage, but it’s so easy to forget when you’re stressing over the wedding plans. That’s why we eloped!

    Lots of happy thoughts to you and Nathan.

    • hi Miriam, thank you so much for your kind words!! It is good to focus on the marriage, yes! As the wedding gets closer we’re experiencing some stress, haha, as is to be expected. Your elopement in Thailand sounds amazing!!! xx

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