The Cost of Things: A Family Wedding in the DR


In July I flew to the Dominican Republic to celebrate my cousin’s wedding with my boyfriend, parents, my dad’s 12 siblings and their approximately six gazillion offspring. I spent four days there, and spent the six months before that planning for the trip. Here’s what it cost me.

Flight: $503.10 round-trip. I ended up purchasing the tickets late on a Wednesday night at the end of January through Travelocity. I’d heard that’s the day of the week when flights are cheapest (thanks, Reddit!) and that was the lowest I’d seen it in weeks. Then way later, in May or June, I checked again and the same flight was $460. WHAT IS THE ALGORITHM FOR THIS MADNESS.

Tourist card: $10. The Dominican Republic charges a tax to its visitors (excluding a few countries in South America); no visa is required, but an additional fee must be paid if the traveler stays longer than 30 days. My parents were born there so I could apply for dual citizenship, but I don’t travel there enough for it to make sense. Although, man, I’d do it just to skip the hellish long line at customs.

Spending money: I withdrew $200 the night before the trip and aside from airport snacks, the purchase of a blanket at the freezing gate and a few souvenirs (so much dulce de leche), I didn’t spend any of it. With all the rushing around the weekend of the wedding, I never got around to exchanging it, and basically had to hang my head and mooch off my parents, who had already been there for a week and had pesos, for the duration. If this makes me sound dumb and terrible, can I say that a wash and blowout at a salon in Santo Domingo costs the equivalent of US $4? Let’s all go be in beautiful shampoo commercials over there!

Anyway, in all I spent maybe $50 during the trip but luckily I was able to use the rest as spending money for the next week or two after I got back.

Lodging: Free! The advantage to having a huge family is that there are so many places to stay!

Food: Family! Free! Life is a gift!

Dress and shoes for the wedding: $80 and $50, respectively. I considered renting a dress through Rent the Runway but the thought of losing this dress somewhere in the Caribbean made me want to barf. I ended up getting a great deal on a dress at Macy’s and then caught a sale at DSW a few weeks later.

Odds and ends:

$70 in Apple swag for my cousin in Santo Domingo, who requested two lightning cords and an iTunes card.

$6.41 for the Kindle version of “You’re Not Much Use to Anyone” by David Shapiro (who was interviewed by The Billfold!).

$50 for my neighbor, who walked the dog while I was gone.

5 years of my life, give or take, when I realized the next morning that said neighbor had left the back gate open and my dog had gotten out (I found him).

$XXX is what I spent at Ulta prior to the trip under the guise of needing “makeup that wouldn’t melt” in the tropical heat. Not proud of it but oh my lanta those salesgirls are good.

Ok fine it was like $75.Total: $1,044.51.

Was it worth it? I hadn’t seen my dad’s side of the family in three years and I wouldn’t have missed my cousin’s wedding for the world. After a lifetime of having my parents plan and fund our family vacations there, it felt good to book everything myself and pay for all of it with money I’d saved. Though I could’ve been more careful about my budget. And by more careful I mean made an actual budget for the trip.


Elyse Toribio is a writer in New Jersey still coming to terms with having lived there longer than in her native New York. Her browser history is a graveyard of online shopping carts that were never checked out, and when she’s feeling particularly riled up, she tweets at @elysetoribio



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