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This is How Much a Destination Wedding Costs in Cartagena, Colombia

Updated: Jan 21

This wedding was featured in Budget Savvy Bride

bride and groom dressed in white in the streets of Cartagena with mulatta whipping their dresses up
Traditional Caminata wedding parade in Cartagena, Colombia

Is it cheaper for Americans to do a destination wedding than to have it in the US? Yes, for many of us; particularly those of us who live somewhere like California. Obviously, it depends on what you could put together here in the states, what you want to do for your wedding, and how many people you’re inviting. Everyone's situation is different. So the best thing I can do to help is probably to give you the breakdown for my destination wedding in Cartagena, Colombia so you can use it as a benchmark to gauge your trajectory.


But first - let's see what Google has to say. According to Boats4U, one of the main tourism companies in Cartagena the average wedding cost in Cartagena is between US $80,000 and US $100,000, for 50 to 80 guests. That’s basically American prices, and that’s not what I experienced. In this blog, I’ll give you a breakdown of how much my destination Colombia wedding cost.


Some Background About My Wedding

We had 57 people and the wedding took place March 5, 2023, which is high season and dry season.


The Costs, by Event


The Ceremony


We rented out the entire Casona del Colegio boutique hotel, and most of the sister hotel, Casona del Porvenir, next door. Both hotels are beautiful and brand new and the manager is really cool and let me run the show there and do whatever I wanted. 13 rooms for 3 nights cost $930, but I won't include that in the total cost because everyone paid for their own rooms.


groom dressed in white with Panama hat laying on the bed with 5 women dressed formal
The Cordoba Suite room in Casona del Colegio

To save money for the part of the wedding that we didn't care that much about we did the ceremony in a really casual fashion on the rooftop of Casona del Colegio. It’s not meant to fit 60 people so many people couldn't see, and some were standing on the steps in the pool and one was even floating on the flamingo that I brought with me, but it was exactly our style. my dad and the groom's mom are ordained so it was free, other than the microphone and speakers, which cost $217.


bride and groom dressed in white linen with Panama hats getting married with a priestess wearing all purple
The wedding ceremony on the Colegio rooftop


A wedding guest watching a wedding ceremony from a pink flamingo floating in the pool
One of the wedding guests watching the ceremony from the flamingo

We hired a 5-piece Cuban Son band for $1,000 for 2 hours and they were great. I know it seems weird to hire a band to play Cuban music at a Colombian wedding but it’s actually what the Colombians do when they get married in Cartagena - the whole vibe of Cartagena is actually very mid-century Havana.


5-piece Cuban Son band
5-piece Cuban Son band

The ceremony was quick and super casual (like we had drinks in our hands during it), and we didn't buy any decorations - the views of Cartagena were more than enough. We had stocked the hotel with booze for the 3 days we were there (one day being a yacht trip with 40 of us) and ordered 20 bottles of champagne and appetizers for the day of the wedding. The total for this food and booze was $1,822, but what we consumed the day of was more like $800.


(More on the yacht trip to the Rosario Islands - choosing a yacht company, where to go, and a breakdown of how much the day costs for 40 people here.)


groom dressed in white with a Panama hat and brunette MC woman in a green fitted dress
Our Colombian friend MCing the ceremony


The Caminata


After the ceremony was over we went downstairs where the caminata was waiting for us outside.


bride and groom dressed in white pants and white tops drinking champagne in the streets in Cartgena, Colombia at their wedding
Meeting the caminata and portable champagne glasses outside of our hotel

The Caminata is a traditional wedding parade, popular in Colombian weddings, especially in the city of Cartagena. It has its roots in the city's Afro-Caribbean culture and is led by three “mulatas” and three “tamboreros.” The tamboreros are men with drums and the mulatas are really beautiful black dancers (women). They’re all dressed in white, and they perform during a 45-minute parade where the wedding party, guests, and often the entire community take to the streets to celebrate. It typically takes place after the wedding ceremony and before the reception.



The parade includes live music, dancing, and street performers if you’ve got the cash - creating a really lively and festive atmosphere. You can stop at various points to dance, sing, and take pictures. People in the street get involved, its really fun. And if you don’t tell your guests that it’s happening it’s a really cool surprise.

bride and groom dancing in white in the streets of Cartagena, Colombia
Look at the girl on the right - she's so surprised!

The cost for the caminata was $427.


Dinner


The caminata dropped us at Candé - one of the best, and maybe the most Cartageñero of the fine dining restaurants in Cartagena. I wanted Candé from the moment I set foot in that place on our recon trip 6 months prior, but it's really hard to get for an event unless you want to pay $25k to rent out the entire restaurant.


tropical restaurant with thatched lanterns checkered floors and a tropical vibe
The main room at Candé, where the stage is


In the end, we got it. We go the pink salon, which was beautiful but not the main room with the thatched chairs and the stage, like we wanted.


people cheersing red cocktails at a pink tropical restaurant
The Salon at Candé

We had a set menu of 3 choices, which takes away a little bit of the charm of Candé - ordering all the fun, flaming appetizers, and decadent desserts. It was a great experience though, and our total bill for 57 people was $5,263.


For a list of Cartagena's most beautiful restaurants and their pricing, read this.


Open Rooftop Bar


girls dressed in colorful florals taking a selfie at a rooftop bar
Mirador Gastrobar Rooftop

After Candé we walked about 5 minutes to Mirador Gastrobar - a rooftop bar with great views of the city. The bar is on the 4th floor and each floor below has something unique - a club on 3, a restaurant on 2, and a cafe on 1. Great spot. We rented the VIP area for a $1,500 minimum, which was consumable. Our bill at the end of the night was $459, which means that for 57 people drank for 3 hours it cost $1,959. At 11:00 we had the second surprise parade come in - the Hora Loca.



La Hora Loca


La Hora Loca ("the crazy hour") is a popular tradition at Colombian weddings, typically occurring towards the end of the reception. During La Hora Loca, the atmosphere is transformed into a high-energy party with lively music, colorful costumes, and plenty of dancing. I think the original purpose is to wake the people up after they start to get tired or drunk - to liven up the atmosphere and rally everyone. The bride and groom often lead the festivities, and everyone puts on crazy costumes and accessories such as masks, hats, and boas - resembling Mardi Gras. The more outrageous, the better.


Bride and groom dressed in white in the middle of the Hora Loca dance party  where everyone is wearing crazy mardi Gras costumes
Bride and groom in the middle of the Hora Loca dance party


If you’ve cash to spend, La Hora Loca can include performers such as dancers, acrobats, and fire-eaters, adding to the lively atmosphere. Some couples even hire professional entertainment companies to create what I imagine is a truly unforgettable experience. But even without the extra costs, Hora Loca is a great addition to a wedding party.


people dressed up in Mardi Gras costumes dancing crazy
Lively wedding reception atmosphere with the Hora Loca


Pro tip: Don't tell anyone you're doing hora local - it's an awesome surprise.


women surprised and people wearing Mardi Gras feather hats
The moment the Hora Loca dancers showed up


The Hora Loca cost $569 and we bought another $200 of outfits and accessories, for a total of $769.


Total Price Tag


Wedding Planner $1,842

Photographer & Videographer $1,733

Microphone $217

Sparklers $243

Band $1,000

Appetizers and Alcohol $800

Caminata $427

Dinner at Candé $5,263

Open Rooftop Bar at Mirador $1,959

Hora Loca $769


The total price tag for the wedding day in Cartegna was $14,253.


When I was doing research for our wedding I came across a spreadsheet for a 60-person wedding that totaled $16,483, so this anecdotal evidence tells us that this is a standard price for a non-conventional wedding in Cartagena. Obviously, you can add flowers, a cake, exclusivity at a venue, and decorations, but Cartagena is so beautiful that I really dont think you need any of that.


This trip was actually 2 weeks long and I have the price breakdown for the entire thing since I handled the money for all 57 people so I was forced to be super diligent. Let me know if you want me to write a blog with that breakdown.


More Information


To find out if Colombia is a good destination wedding spot for you read my Should You Do Your Destination Wedding in Colombia blog. I go over:

  • Who pays for what in a destination wedding in Colombia?

  • Challenges of planning a destination wedding in Colombia and how to mitigate them

  • What to Wear to a Wedding in Cartagena Colombia

If you have any questions or want specific recommendations leave them in the comments and I’ll respond.








1,559 views10 comments

10 Comments


Guest
Feb 26

Can you please share your photographer/videographer? Looking for one on our big day! Thank you :)

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Guest
Feb 25

These are all great tips, your blog is great! I am eloping in Cartagena this year and trying to find a good fun photographer. Any recommendations?

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Guest
Jan 17

Tiktok brought me here! I really appreciate your transparency and how detailed this post it. Love how you did this and going for a similar vibe! I had a similar question as another person about your wedding planner. Contact info would be helpful! Thank you!

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Replying to

Okay so I used Monica Rambal. Her website is being rebuilt until February so here is her Insta, which she is using to connect with people for the next few weeks: https://www.instagram.com/abrileventplanner/


She didn't plan the rest of the weekend for us because I used to live in Colombia and my Colombian friends and I did the planning outside of the wedding day, but if you don't have connections there you will probably need her to help with a few things.


For example:


🍷 If you stay at Casona del Colegio or Casona del Porvenir, you can (and should) stock the rooftop bar with food and snacks for all the people staying at those 2 hotels to save money. Monica…


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Hello! I saw your blog about your awesome and very beautiful destination wedding in Cartagena! My fiancé and I are doing the same thing, yay! I was wondering if I could ask you a question regarding the yacht day. I'm struggling finding a boat for the amount of ppl in my group. I was wondering who you rented a yacht with? How many ppl where in your group? How much did it cost you if you don't mind me asking? I would appreciate any help with this and I hope to hear back from you! Thank you so much for your time!!!!!

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Replying to

Hi Michael! I started responding to this and it turned into a blog post: https://www.courtneymuro.com/post/how-much-are-yacht-rentals-in-cartagena-colombia-2024


I also have this TikTok with similar info: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZPRcvE7Us/

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Guest
Aug 20, 2023

Thank you for this breakdown! I am considering doing my wedding in Cartagena, so this is very helpful. I would be interested to know the pricing for the boat day and how you handled logistics of guests paying for their own rooms since you rented the entire hotel.

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Replying to

Hello!


Yacht Day


Here is a blog post with details about the yacht day: https://www.courtneymuro.com/post/how-much-are-yacht-rentals-in-cartagena-colombia-2024


I also have this TikTok with similar info: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZPRcvE7Us/


Money Logistics for a Destination Wedding:


and here is a TikTok I just made explaining how I handled all of the money logistics for the entire wedding: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZT8sEJ72m/

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