Are you planning a destination wedding in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort?
Have you asked about the resort’s outside vendor policy?
If not, you are in for a bit of a surprise.
And unfortunately, it’s not a ‘fun’ kind of surprise.
As a couple planning a destination wedding in Riviera Maya, you probably hope to hire your favorite wedding photographer, videographer, or hair and makeup artist, just like you chose this resort for all of the festivities.
Unfortunately, however, all-inclusive resorts in Mexico put up a costly roadblock for destination weddings.
(As if you aren’t spending enough on travel and accommodation already!)
This is called an Outside Vendor Fee, or you may see it referred to as an ‘outside vendor penalty’ in your wedding contract.
We are Riviera Maya destination wedding experts here to help you understand what outside vendor fees are, why resorts are charging them, and what (if anything) you can do about it.
(This post has been updated, 2022)
What is an Outside Vendor Fee?
Are you less than thrilled by the resort ‘Preferred Photographer’ included in your wedding package?
Have you found a local wedding photographer (an outside wedding vendor) whose style you absolutely love and must have for your precious wedding photos?
Newsflash Beach Brides!
If you choose to get married at an all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya, and want control over what wedding vendors you hire, prepare to pay the price.
Resorts have ‘Resort Photographers’ who are employees, and also a short list of ‘Preferred or Approved Photographers’ who pay big commissions to the resort for that accolade.
Therefore, an outside vendor fee is the resort’s way to guarantee they still make their percentage, regardless of who you choose to hire. They charge you, their esteemed guest, for the privilege of having the photographer you love best on your wedding day.
Is this fair?
No. Of course not.
But is this reality?
Yes. Unfortunately. Bienvenidos!
How much does an Outside Vendor Fee cost?
So now you’re probably wondering – How much is this going to cost me?
There are no regulations or standard fees across resorts. Outside vendor policies are hotel-specific. You might luck out and only need to cover day passes for each of your vendors, and if so, then expect these to start at around 150 USD per person.
Unfortunately, many of the best wedding resorts in the Riviera Maya are now charging upwards of $1000 USD per vendor – OUCH!
And this is over and above the outside vendor’s own package prices!
Can I avoid paying the Outside Vendor Fee?
If you’re like most couples, you want to sniff out any opportunity to save your precious wedding budget.
However, the only time you might hold any negotiating power whatsoever is before you sign a contract with your resort. This is why it is SO important that you do your homework about hidden wedding costs when you can still choose not to get married there!
When exploring the best Riviera Maya wedding resort options, ask about their outside vendor policy. Remember that this is Mexico, and everything is negotiable!
Some requests before you sign could include:
- have the fee reduced
- more people be included per company (often there is a limit of two people before the fee increases)
- insist that your photographer and videographer be recognized as one vendor
- get it eliminated altogether!
Insider Tip: One option to explore is booking your wedding vendor in as a guest at your resort. In some cases, the vendor fee would be waived if they have their own room. Paying for the extra accommodation can end up being less expensive for you than paying the vendor fee.
But please, if you do manage to negotiate a deal, get it in writing on your contract, because your resort wedding coordinator can change at the drop of a hat. People and policies change without notice in Mexico.
I did not know about outside vendor fees before I booked – what now?
So you’ve already signed your contract, but had no idea about this hidden fee?
You’re not alone.
All-inclusive resorts are in the business of making money and are not going to draw your attention to their outside vendor policy when trying to secure your wedding.
If you are reading this, surprised by this extortion, you can always try pleading ignorance to your wedding coordinator because it is still worth attempting to negotiate with the points mentioned above.
But expect that your emails on the subject might never get responded to, or that waiving the fee would be ‘Eeem-possible’.
It bears repeating that you need to read the fine print before you sign contracts, or agree to anything else – services, extras, upgrades – with your wedding resort.
Download our FREE Ultimate Guide To Getting Married In The Riviera Maya
Where does my Outside Vendor Fee go?
Fingers crossed that the outside vendor fee somehow increases the value of your wedding experience?
Ugh. I’m afraid not.
I wish I had a straightforward answer about where your money goes. My best research tells me that the fees might cover the salary of the resort employees whose services you opt out of.
It also needs to offset the commission from the ‘approved or preferred vendors’ who pay a handsome 40% commission out of their own fees.
Or it just goes straight into the opportunistic deep pockets of the resort.
However, I can tell you where outside vendor fees definitely do NOT go:
They do NOT go in any part to your chosen outside wedding vendor.
Will wedding vendors give me a discount to cover the fee?
Do you feel the company you want to hire should take pity on you and your budget?
Obviously, every wedding vendor is different, and has their own cost of doing business. So expecting a discount to save you money can be a tricky negotiation.
Although it never hurts to ask for a discount, please be fair and cautious.
After all, how would you feel if your boss cut your paycheck, explaining they didn’t want to pay your full salary because some other expenses popped up?
Asking a professional wedding vendor to cover the resort’s extortion is not fair either. Self-employed companies set their rates based on their cost of doing business, and therefore a discount should never be expected.
What can I do if I am unhappy with paying a Vendor Fee?
Do you have options if your resort will not budge?
Yes, you always have options!
1.Take your wedding off the resort
You can still use the resort for accommodation, but you can also cancel the wedding with them, and make sure they understand why. In my opinion, not enough couples explore this option.
There are SO many romantic, funky and unique beach clubs or private villas in the Riviera Maya that can provide an amazing beach wedding, from the ceremony through the reception. Contrary to popular belief, you are NOT restricted to getting married at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico.
Explore the best off-site destination wedding venues and when you weigh your options against paying additional vendor fees and add-ons at the resort, you will see how comparable the cost is at the end of the day.
Your best bet, if you choose to get married off-site, is to put yourselves in the experienced hands of a professional wedding planner. Luckily, we work with the best in the business! Contact us now, and we will gladly put you in touch.
2. Harness the power of the internet!
Glowing reviews and testimonials are every resort’s bread and butter, and bad reviews are super harmful.
If you are unhappy with a resort’s outside vendor policy, or how shady they are about keeping it hidden, then shout it from the rooftops to anyone and everyone who will listen!
Head on over to social media, Uncle Google, and Tripadvisor – y’know the places YOU go for research and advice.
Consider it your duty to warn future engaged couples, and cause a stir! The worldwide web is a very influential place, and you have the ability to invoke change. So speak up!
I sincerely hope this helps your wedding planning process, and I want to hear about any concerns or questions in the comments below.
And finally, if you are looking for the best Riviera Maya wedding photographer for your destination wedding in Riviera Maya, Mexico, contact us now! We are Fun In The Sun Weddings, for the best Riviera Maya wedding photography.