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Ask Team Practical: Should We Honeymoon?


Now or later, does it make a difference?

by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Should We Honeymoon? | A Practical Wedding

Q: I’m a few months away from my wedding, and I’m stressed and thrilled and so, so excited. I’m mostly excited for the honeymoon. Time away from work and wedding planning and family craziness with the person I love most in the world. It’s going to be great. The only problem is, we have no idea where to start or how to plan it. I did some preliminary research online, and it seems like so many “example” honeymoons cost thousands of dollars. We talked to a local travel agent who gave us one or two options along with some snide comments about our budget. We’d like to pay off student loan debt and buy a house someday. I just can’t convince myself that $3,000 on a vacation is the right choice for us right now. Is it possible to have a relaxing, interesting getaway with a new spouse for less than $2,000? What have APW readers and contributors done for honeymoons?

-Anna

A: Dear Anna,

Totally possible. For starters, avoid anyone who ever makes snide comments about your budget. Then, just do something. Anything.

Loads of folks will tell you to wait, to pay off some things, to save for a house and just “go on honeymoon later.” But a honeymoon is only a honeymoon if it happens right then after the wedding. If it happens long after the wedding, it turns out to be… a really nice vacation. (Not to begrudge anyone a really nice vacation. It’s just different.) There’s a reason the honeymoon comes right after getting hitched. All of that wedding stress and build-up, then this big amazing party, and roller-coastering emotions and overwhelm… whew, after all that, what you really need is a good breather with your partner. And maybe a hot tub.

Aside from that, isn’t it kind of a nice idea to jump into marriage with both feet, taking advantage of those newlywed highs by just hunkering down and reveling in them a bit?

It’s altogether too easy to say, “When we have more money.” But very often, that day doesn’t happen for quite a long while. A person can be discerning, responsible, frugal and still, you know, live right now rather than waiting until some unforeseen date in the future. (I know a bit about fruitlessly waiting for money.)

I get that for some folks, the stomach-churning over the expense of a trip in light of bills and debt will outweigh any vacation happies. But, there’s no need to go on some lavish getaway in order to enjoy that special little honeymoon cloud (no matter what snide travel agents may say). One of my favorite “vacations” recently was to a hotel in our own city. Cheap, close, but still away from the stresses of everyday life, and as a result, special. I’ll admit, before we left, I thought it was going to be pretty lame. But it turns out, the whole “where” of the thing doesn’t matter so much as the attitude. The relaxing. The being together just the two of us, without any of the normal pressures nagging at us.

But I have a feeling I’m preaching to the choir a bit here. You asked for ideas. And if there’s anything our readers are good at, it’s loads of ideas of all sorts. So, here we are guys.

what are some affordable ways to have a honeymoon now, instead of putting it off?

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Kt

    do it yourself not through a travel agent. plan it as a time of relaxing after the wedding build up (and, yes, probably, stress). book cheap flights to somewhere close but beautiful and a decent hotel or b&b. no need to pay for the word honeymoon (which seems to have the same affect as mentioning ‘wedding’). we’re doing honeymoon on a budget and are currently discussing priorities. we usually hostel so this time would like a decent b&b with a good breakfast but enough money to allow a few really nice meals. like the wedding, set your budget and your priorities and work from there.

  • Kelly Mine-His

    Going on a honeymoon directly after our wedding was one of the best decisions we made. While, yes, we did end up taking a once-in-a-lifetime sort of trip, it was the quieter, downtime, private moments that were so important. I really needed some time to process the wedding (each moment had gone by and I had so many FEELINGS) and also to just come down from a spectacular high. We ate long, luxurious dinners and just talked about us – our family now, in the future, our hopes and our love and all we’d been through to get there.We stayed in bed in the mornings and snuggled and talked and kissed…

    I just remember the feeling of being almost completely in the moment – not worried about work, or money, or really even thinking about people and their issues outside of hubby and me. It was wonderful.

    We did not book through a travel agent and we just went with a destination that was exciting in a way we could afford. All you need is a place to stay and a way to get there. Your honeymoon doesn’t need massages or unlimited drinks or swimming with dolphins. You will have plenty of together time to keep you occupied!

    • Erin

      This is beautiful.

    • Meg Keene

      US TOO. Both the big trip and the feelings. LOTS of crying. Also though, the wedding was really great, but those two weeks were maybe the best two weeks of my life.

  • Grace

    My fiancé and I are planning on going to Vegas, even though we don’t have the slightest interest in gambling. We do, however, enjoy shows and spas and poolside bars, plus the cheaper hotels and the fact that neither one of us has been there before. We’re planning on spending around $3K though, so that may or may not be doable for you, depending on airfare and what shows you want to go to and whatnot. If it had turned out that we didn’t have that much to spend, the plan was to find a B&B or a cabin rental or something within driving distance for a super affordable honeymoon.

    Something else to consider would be to just pick a city of any significant size and explore it together. There are lots of great cities in the US where (I’m pretty sure) it’d be easy to do a week of fun in for under $2K. As a Midwesterner, I’ll say that cities like Cincinnati, Columbus, or Indianapolis are often underrated and have tons of things to do (and these places would definitely be affordable vacation spots), but there’s also Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston, or maybe even New York if you find a place to stay through airbnb and do some research beforehand.

    • Mainah

      And Portland! The first one, not the trendy one. ;)

  • Ellen

    We’re actually super excited to not be leaving our area for our “honeymoon”, but instead getting to explore all of the neat areas near us that we usually can’t go to because of work. It definitely doesn’t hurt that we live in coastal Maine so there are a lot of neat areas to explore. The money we’re saving on a big trip is going toward renovating our kitchen and I’m beyond excited about that!

    • Michigan Sara

      We went to coastal Maine on our honeymoon. Flew into Portland, rented a car, and drove along the coast for a week. We stayed at a fancier B&B the first couple of nights, then lower-cost, but still nice, motels the rest of the trip. It was VERY relaxing, there were no bad options for things to do, and we were on our own timetable. I think we spent right around $2000, including flights from Michigan, car rental, hotels, and food.
      I was a little stressed about going on our honeymoon the day after the wedding, but we didn’t leave until the evening, so the morning and early afternoon was a nice time to relax and get our act together before heading out for a week.

    • Sparkles

      Second vote for not going far… We spent a couple days at a cabin off the grid about 20 minutes from our house, it was amazing. A friend of a friend owns the place and let us use it for free, we brought leftovers from the wedding and had roast beef sandwiches and stuffed peppers, and all the leftover cookies!) to eat, warmed up on the wood stove. We went snowshoeing, and read books and had lots of fun (ahem, if you know what I mean ;), what else are you supposed to do in a cabin in the woods?). We didn’t stay for very long because my partner got sick, but it was really nice to just spend a few days talking about what happened and winding down from all the energy and stimulation.

      Best of all, after all that money we saved up and spent on the wedding, our little trip cost us nothing but the gas it took us to drive there.

    • Jenna

      We are doing the exact same thing! And I want to use the leftover funds to reno/demo our kitchen, too! Great Maine minds think alike? :)

      Where are you guys going? We’re doing bar Harbor, but haven’t settled on where exactly to stay. Plus, I kind of want to go to Nova Scotia instead.

      • Ellen

        We’re kind of thinking a day trip to Vinalhaven! We’re in Brunswick so we have a lot of great options. A couple of years ago we went to Acadia and rented a little house on Raccoon Cove in Lamoine through VRBO. It was heaven.

        Now that the ferry is up and running again… Nova Scotia is totally in the mix too! Yay Maine!

  • Lauren from NH

    Two words, LIVING SOCIAL! My partner and I went on trip to Jamaica last fall to an all inclusive resort for 5 days, 4 nights, for around $2000 (my highest pre estimate was for 2200, including fun money, taxi money, the resort, and airfare from BWI). Some people may poo poo at all inclusive resorts, and I hear that perspective, but it was amazing not to have to plan the crap out of how close is the beach, where are we going to eat, etc all taken care of. FYI you do want to read reviews on trip advisor. Sometimes these promotion deals are run because no one likes the place and the business is going under, other times, like for us they are trying to fill their off season calendar. We had an amazingly relaxing time.

    • Teresa

      We did the all-inclusive thing as well and it was FABULOUS. You could lay there all day and someone brings you drinks and snacks! There are options of snorkling and other excursions that you can do if you want to, but we literally layed in a bed on the beach for 5 straight days. Right after our wedding, that was exactly what I needed.
      I also think that going anywhere that feels a little special is enough. Going within driving distance saves on plane tickets and allows you to maybe spend a little extra on good food and a nice hotel. But, definitely go away, do something, even if just for a few days. You’ll need it and it was just pure bliss to spend a couple of days outside of our normal life just totally blissing out!

  • Lisa

    You can have an awesome trip for 2k! First I’d think about where you can drive. Is there anywhere <6 hours from your place that you've never been but always wanted to go? Then I agree with the other poster, check out AirBnB. It's a little intimidating at first but so worth it. Not only do you have a place to stay in a more "local" area, you also (usually!) have a kitchen which is huge for sticking to budget. It's your honeymoon, so of course I'd say you must go out to a few wonderful meals together. But when it comes to breakfasts and quick lunches, it's such a gift to have a kitchen. It's also much more private.

    Of course there is also always an "all-inclusive". Just this week i saw 5 day + trips including air for under 1k each.

    I agree it's important to do something to celebrate in the way of a honeymoon immediately following your wedding… you deserve it! But remember, this is not the trip to end all trips. There are many more adventures to come.

    Congratulations!

    • Eh

      We used AirBnB to find the house we rented for our honeymoon. We wanted something affordable, comfy and with a kitchen (we wanted to feel like we were coming “home” and not living in a hotel). We found a great house at a really great price and then a month before our wedding the woman cancelled on us. We did get a small credit for rebooking with another person on AirBnB but it was nearly twice as much (which made our budget much tighter). The place we ended up staying was much nicer and right on the ocean and it was more private so it was worth the extra money. I would still recommend looking at AirBnB. Other people I know have used it and none of them have ever been cancelled on.

    • JDrives

      I’ve had lovely experiences staying with AirBnB. If possible, find a place where you get the whole run of the place. We stayed in a cool little one-bedroom in Seattle that was about a 15-minute walk from downtown, and it was pretty reasonable (I think about $100 per night). It was lovely having a kitchen to save some $$ on meals (and bonus! it was stocked with a corkscrew…very important stuff).

    • Mezza

      YES Airbnb. We rented an apartment through them for our honeymoon and it was perfect, and so much cheaper than a hotel would have been. It was also amazing to have a kitchen and terrace and various home-like amenities that would be super expensive and unusual at a hotel.

    • http://kara-tanoue.blogspot.com/ Kara T

      One of the best trips we ever took was when we found a beautiful little guest house on a coffee farm for $70/night. We enjoyed exploring the area, we bought and made our own food in the kitchenette, and I still remember that guest house as my most favorite place we’ve ever stayed.

  • zoe

    Yep, we did the local-ish route. It helped that most of our vacation days were week days in the off-season in the vacation area about 2 hours from home (saved on flights too!). The week/off-season combo meant that the shmancy-ish hotel was nearly 50 percent off. We didn’t do anything spectacular, just… honey moon stuff. It was amazing.

  • Eh

    We had a very nice honeymoon for less than $2000 but we used travel points for our flights and train. Our honeymoon was ten days/night nights which included one night in sleeper class on the train, renting a house just outside Halifax for 5 nights, renting a cabin on Cape Breton for two nights and then splurging on a hotel in Halifax for the last night. We also rented a car for a week.

    One of my friends rented a cabin near where we live for their honeymoon. Other friends have stayed in a hotel in a nearby city or have gone camping. Those are usually pretty affordable options. It really depends what your priorities are.

    • Jenna

      Do you have any NS honeymoon suggestions? We might put Acadia on the back burner and hop on the Portland/Yarmouth ferry instead. Cape Breton looks amazing.

      • Ames

        Nova Scotia is amazing. We went last year on vacation and had such a great time that we are going back this summer. I was originally not as keen on Cape Breton as my partner, but once we got there I was sold on the scenery! Some of the coastal roads you see in car commercials are shot there. I was also surprised at the good quality of restaurants and B & B’s there. The other place that I really love in Nova Scotia is the Annapolis Valley. Quaint houses, local fruit, amazing views and wineries! The wineries are not as “developed” as places like Niagara, but the wine was better than I expected.

      • Eh

        We spent most of our honeymoon based out of Halifax. We spend a few days in Halifax going to museums (Pier 21, Museum of the Atlantic, the Citadel, etc.), brewery tours, just walking around seeing the sights (the Public Gardens, the boardwalk, old cemeteries), and we even did a ghost walk one evening. We went to Lunenburg/Mahone Bay/Peggys Cove one day, and we went to Wolfville/Grand Pre another day (stopping for a hike at the Uniacke Estates on our way there) to see the tides at the Bay of Fundy.

        We did not spend much time in Cape Breton. We were only there for two days. The first day we drove from Halifax to Glace Bay to go to the Miners’ Museum and then we drove to the cabin we stayed at near Ingonish Beach. The next day we drove the whole Cabot Trail, stopping frequently to see the views and visit the towns (mainly Cheticamps and Baddeck). We also went for a hike in the park (though the hike was short since it was raining).

        It was the off season so lots of things were closed which we didn’t mind since it just meant we had a more relaxing trip and didn’t feel like we needed to do everything. Things I would have liked to do if we had more time would have been to go whale watching and to go to the Fortress of Louisbourg.

  • BB

    When we got married we were financially strapped from the wedding itself and neither of us had the time or energy to plan an elaborate vacation ahead of time. All either of us wanted was to spend a week together, alone, and preferably in/near nature. What we ended up doing was borrowing my parent’s camper and all of their camping gear (and canoe!), loading up a cooler with generous donations from my parents (they gave us some delicious meat and a couple of premade meals that were frozen down), and then headed off to a secluded lake for a week of camping. It was so wonderful. The two of us moved away from Colorado (where our families live and where we had our wedding) a few years before and we missed being in the mountains. The only “activity” we planned ahead of time, was reserving a rafting trip, and finding the location of the nearest hot springs. It was so, so worth it, and so incredibly cheap. I HIGHLY recommend it.

    • Annie

      Some family friends did this 30+ years ago. They spent a week canoeing on a nearby river and called it their “Honeyfloat.” They go on a commemorative float trip every year near their anniversary, which I think is adorable!

    • TeaforTwo

      Beautiful. I think of this as the honeymoon version of the cake and punch reception: ignoring all of the add-ons that people are trying to sell you, and focussing on what the honeymoon is FOR – time alone with the person you just married.

  • Liz

    Also check out groupons and travelzoo for great deals. Home away and vrbo are great for all kinds of rental cabins, condos, all kinds of properties, usually you can get a week for less than a couple nights in a bnb. Plus you can save a lot having a kitchen, even if its just breakfasts and lunches, then you can splurge on some special meals for dinner. You don’t mention where you are or when your wedding is, but off season and mid week prices can be great deals. Also going to less well known destinations. Airfare is rough so think about what’s within a few hours drive. A cabin by a lake or in the mountains? A quaint town you haven’t been to? Have you thought about a honeymoon registry like Honeyfund?

  • Miss Anon

    You guys, we put off the honeymoon. Then we put off vacation the next year. Then our marriage never got the maintenance it needed. We kept saying, later….
    Now, we are getting divorced. We never made the time to take care of our relationship.
    DO NOT WAIT. Honeymoon. For serious!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      I disagree. I understand the reasons everyone is stating for not putting off the honeymoon but in some instances it’s just entirely impossible to get the time off work and/or get the money to do it. I am in such a situation and while it’s not ideal, I don’t think it will lead us to divorce and we can find other ways to “take care of our relationship” in the mean time…

      • Lizzie C.

        I agree with @vegankitchendiaries:disqus . My husband and I put off our international honeymoon for more than a year, which gave us time to save up for it and bank our vacation days. It also meant we didn’t have to plan the trip at the same time as the wedding, so we got to be excited about it without the wedding stress. When we went, it was no less special because of the delay. Putting off the honeymoon is right for some couples but not right for others.

      • Anon

        Yes–if the reality is at you can’t take a honeymoon, you’re not doomed! My parents didn’t and have been married for 35 years!

    • Rebekah

      Hugs for you.

  • Marie

    Drive or take the train to the nearest seaside or lake-side town
    Skip the hotel, and rent a room at a cute b&b; rent an apartment (then you can cook and store food for picnics!); or use air b&b
    Sign up for price alerts at kayak/priceline/southwest etc, keep abreast of deals via email newsletters, check out flyertalk

    Recent trips for under 2k: wine tasting in michigan (super cheap!); Budapest ($350 tickets!), Milwaukee, door county. Road trip down the Mississippi.

    So in sum, I would say either take advantage of the cute towns and surprising gems nearby– eg. Vineyards where you’d least expect them– or, if you tap into the world of flight deals, you can do even more dazzling stuff. Taken all together, in last two years my grad student friends and I have done Paris, Milan, Brouges, Prague, Istanbul, NYC with flights under $400, all because of random deals.

    • rys

      Where are you finding these flight deals? I need to get on this!

      • Marie

        There are entire web pages devoted to sussing out pricing flukes, alerting people to good deals, etc– eg. flyertalk. I don’t monitor the forums at flyertalk myself, but I have friends who do, and I’ve asked them to pass on the good deals. http://www.flyertalk.com

        You can really go down a rabbit hole if you get into the flight deal stuff, so I prefer to get the info second hand; and then I always try to garner good karma by spreading word when something good comes my way :)

        I also poke around kayak occasionally, to see what’s cheap when.

    • jashshea

      Great advice! If you can avoid being caught up in a “perfect” location, you can usually find a crazy good deal on a trip to somewhere great. Now off to find tix to Budapest for $350 :)

  • Cait

    Traveler’s Joy really worked for us- we didn’t need things, and everyone said how cool it was to contribute towards an experience. In the end, we had some money leftover, and that’s helping us with moving costs.

    • Lizzie C.

      We used Traveler’s Joy too and mostly liked it, as did our guests (friends our age, at least). But I was irked that it takes a percentage of each gift as a processing fee. BOO. I know other honeymoon registries don’t do that, and not everyone cares, but it meant less money for fruity cocktails for us. :p

  • Annie

    We just worked through the honeymoon sticker shock. Initially we were thinking about a big blow-out vacation, but we’re paying off student debt and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to relax and really have fun while stressing about how much money we’re spending. Here are a few things we did to make our honeymoon planning work for us:

    -Figure out what’s important to you. We really wanted to relax, read, get a massage, have somewhere nice to eat but other than that not feel pressure to sightsee or do too many activities. Once we realized that, it took a lot of pressure off of finding an exotic locale. So, we booked a B&B in a romantic Victorian town with a rocking chair-filled porch. :)
    -Find somewhere cool within driving distance. Eliminating airfare saved us about $800 right off the bat. It helped that we picked a place we’ve heard a lot about but neither of us has been. That still gives us a sense of newness and exploration!
    -Make it a few days shorter. We found a great B&B that drops their price by $40 Sunday-Wednesday nights. We’re staying Sunday – Wednesday, which seems luxurious, plus we get the cheaper rates. We have the whole week off work, so we’ll turn the last few days into a mini-staycation at home.
    -Decide on one meal a day to be your “splurge” meal (a nice brunch out, a cool dinner place). We’re planning to do simple meals in the kitchenette or even (gasp!) a grocery store for our off meals.

    All in all, I think we’ll spend about $1000-$1200, and that includes a really nice B&B and several meals out. By changing our location, we can indulge in a lot more splurges than we could in a fancier vacation spot. We’re really excited about it! We did have to work through some of the “But other people spend 2 weeks in Europe!” entitlement feelings, but it comes back to knowing your budget and then creating a fun plan within that budget.

    • 39bride

      That’s pretty much what we did (including grocery store), though it was on a small island just of the coast. It was only four days, but we absolutely loved it and made some wonderful memories.

    • Jules

      Great practical advice. I definitely advocate splurging on some things (massage, hot-tub, bottle of bubbly one night, the ability to stay in bed until noon?) and then cutting all the others that you just don’t really care about. Can you shave a few days off the vacay? Can you pick a place that doesn’t require car rental?

      Another idea: cruise! Well…I guess this mostly works for people who live near ports-of-call or can fly to them cheaply. BUT Carnival has very affordable cruises off-peak (are you getting married after mid-August? that’s when prices drop), which are all-inclusive and go anywhere from 3-7 days. That means you would have to pay for a few extra mimosas and whatever side expeditions sound interesting, but you don’t NEED to, and that’s a great relief when you’re vacationing on a budget. Bonus: it’s basically the most pre-planned vacation you could take, treating side expeditions buffet-style. After all, no one’s forcing you off the ship. I’m talking $200-500 per person here.

      People [um, that travel agent?] forget that “honeymoon” isn’t “the most extravagant romantic two-week vacation!!!!!”. It’s just a breather, a vacay with your new spouse, and THAT is what makes it special. Any ol’ person can go on a vacation…but only newlyweds get the privilege of honeymoon, whether they’re camping or staying in a French castle. Your travel agent makes me mad.

      • ruth

        I second the cruise idea! Although I recommend Norwegian – though they’re a little bit more expensive then carnival, they’re better quality in terms of food / accomadations, etc…Also, we found just telling people it was our honeymoon got us all kinds of free and delightful goodies – boxes of chocolates and champagne in our room, cocktails with the captain staff etc… – people love honeymooners, and it’s amazing the nice things they throw in if you tell them

        • bsc

          We just got back from a Norwegian Cruise for our Honeymoon and LOVED it. We’ve both cruised before but were really impressed with Norwegian. We also feel like we got a lot for what we paid! Cruising for a honeymoon is a great idea!

      • laddibugg

        yep..cruises are pretty cheap, and with 2K you can get a decent room in the off season.

      • Josie

        We did a cruise on Princess, which was awesome. We wanted warm weather, a lounge chair and a place to quietly read, and we got an awesome deal for a five night cruise to the western Caribbean. I’ll tell you what, we hadn’t gotten that much sleep in ages — neither of us realized how tired we were until we didn’t have anything else to do anymore! We did go back to work for a week in between which ended up being good, we had time to put the house back together, see my husband’s sick grandmother, etc etc.

      • JSwen

        re: cruises

        NORWALK VIRUS. google it. no thank you. i guess i’m just a land lubber.

        • YOQ

          Norovirus spreads super-easily on cruise ships because they’re fairly densely populated and contained groups of people, but you can definitely get it on land, too. I picked it up at a restaurant in PDX a couple years ago–most miserable week of my life. (I will never go to Mother’s again.)

          • JSwen

            OMG not Mother’s! Noooooooooo! Are you a PDXer, too?

            Yes, it can spread just about anywhere. My brother’s family passed it around after their toddler got it at day care.

          • YOQ

            Yes, Mother’s. I split time right now between PDX and WY, but grew up in OR. I’ll admit, that experience made me very cautious about cruises–I never, EVER want to have norovirus ever again–but don’t assume you’re safe just because you’re on land…

    • Rachel

      We’re doing something similar! We’re getting married in another state (where much of our family is) and we picked a nice town in that state and splurged on a really nice hotel room with a full kitchen (we love to cook and prefer to eat in 98% of the time). Since we are already paying for airfare the nice hotel room brings us to about $1000. Meanwhile we’re setting up a ‘honeymoon’ fund for a more exciting destination next year :)

    • Ann

      We did something very similar. I think it worked out to a total of $900 (in Monterrey/Pacific Grove, CA after a bay area wedding). Sunday-Thursday at a B&B that had plenty of fridge space and easy access to dishes that they would clean made live pretty easy. Our first night there, we asked the woman there for a pizza place recommendation, took one of their VHSs off the shelf (yep. they still had a library of VHSs) and got the pizza delivered to our room while we watched a 90s classic. Mostly, we just needed time to be alone and relax. A low key B&B is great for that.

    • Meghan A

      I have to agree that this is fantastic and practical advice. We had a similar experience, and while it wasn’t what we originally had in mind, it was fantastic. In fact, we are hoping to do the same thing for our Anniversary in about a month.

  • Gabrielle

    We got married in December last year and went on a 2 week honeymoon to Bali (we live in Australia, so it wasn’t that far). The quiet time together post wedding craziness was lovely (? essential) but we both got sick, it rained a lot, we moved hotels every few days, and while Bali is well set up for tourists, there is only so much eating at cafes and lying on beaches you can do. Honestly, our honeymoon was… so-so.

    Earlier this month, we went on a one week camping trip. We drove to a beautiful national park, set up the tent in a private camping spot, relaxed by the river, went on walks during the day, lay under the stars at night…. heaven. If I was planning my honeymoon again, I’d do the camping trip for sure – and save $$$ in the process! DO have the honeymoon, just make it about you, your new spouse and space. Flights, fancy hotels and travel agents not required!

  • kris

    We’re getting married in 6 weeks. My fiance is entering med school
    and our reality is that we cannot take the time or money for an
    elaborate honeymoon right now. We chose the best “destination” within
    driving distance from our home, so we’ll be heading an hour away to
    Toronto using airbnb for a couple of days before I have to go back to
    work. I’m so excited to just LOUNGE AROUND with my new husband and eat
    breakfast in bed and drink wine all evening. Nothing too fancy =)
    But,
    depending on our “financial gifts”, we’ll assess whether we can take a
    bigger trip in 2015. I think it will be fun to plan another special
    event, and we both love to travel, so I’m pretty confident it won’t be
    something that falls to the wayside!

    • Ann

      Re: laying around drinking wine all evening
      That was totally our plan.
      And then our friends convinced us to drink waaaayyyy more than we otherwise would the night before the wedding and night of. The first to days of the honeymoon I was all like “YAY No one wants me to drink and I am so going to have nice lemonade instead of wine with dinner!” We also didn’t sleep enough leading up to/on the day of the wedding, and going to bed at 8pm our first night on our honeymoon (the day after the wedding) was GLORIOUS. My mind and body needed the low key honeymoon to recuperate from what had been a weekend-long party.

  • InTheBurbs

    The other posters are right on – but I’ll add one thing – if you can, structure your trip so you can have 1 day at home before you go back to work. You’ll need/want the time to do home stuff like laundry, and a grocery store run…

    • Amy A.

      THIS. We did that on the last trip we took but not on our recent honeymoon and oh, how I regret it . . .

    • http://www.etsy.com/shop/DIYIDo Laura

      YES. Absolutely 100% do this. We came back on a Saturday (traveling most of the day) then had all day Sunday to re-acclimate, get settled back in and mentally prepare for a return to work on Monday. We were both so grateful we had that whole day back at home and couldn’t imagine doing in any other way.

    • Lawyerette510

      We also really valued having a couple of days home before going back to work. It was great to end the week by being together at home without any plans but to be together.

    • Casey

      This! Our wedding was out of town and we came home for one night before leaving for our honeymoon at 4 am the next day. After being away for over 2 weeks in all, having an extra day for laundry, unpacking, etc was much needed!

    • Kelsey

      This. Except at both ends. Its pretty typical to not leave immediately for your honeymoon, and anyone currently planning should know that this is for good reason. If I had had to pack, pick out honeymoon Dvds from the library, and dig out the camera and gps all in the days before the wedding… well, lets just say, I wouldn’t have had any underwear all week (totally forgot that aspect of packing for the night-of the wedding hotel stay. Hello lace underwear with long satin ties under shorts). I was so thankful that we had Saturday to spend time with family (some extra time with the mother in law who lives across the continent and I’ve only met 4 times), open presents, and pass out floral arrangements to friends. And then Sunday night at home to pack. And then Monday to deposit our cash wedding gifts, fix my time sheet, and pick out dvds.

  • Rachael

    We chaperoned a high school mission trip to Belize for our honeymoon, so maybe I’m not the best person to take advice from. Nothing like building a school in the jungle to celebrate your new marriage! But we saved for a year before we went on a cruise. We did 7 days in the Caribbean for under $1000, and that’s including food and entertainment, because its all included in your booking fee. We got an interior (cheap) room to save money so we could have something left over to do things on shore. A lot of people think cruising is an expensive vacation but I’ve found it to be way cheaper than just about anything else if you sail off-peak.

  • Amy A.

    I loved our honeymoon (we’ve been home a week) and I’m really glad we did it right after the wedding. Is it absolutely necessary to do it that way? No. Is it really, really nice? Yes. I’d recommend it, but I realize it doesn’t work for everyone. If you can’t travel right afterwards, I would say have something booked by the time you get married, just so you feel like your honeymoon is coming, and take some kind of “mini-moon” right after, just to relax and be together for a few days.
    My #1 tip for a honeymoon you love on a budget is to decide together what experience(s) you would enjoy, then be creative and resourceful in how you go about doing it. The first part is actually really important; our honeymoon was a week of hiking and scenic drives on the coast (we are from the Midwest) and it was perfect for us. Someone below said they saw good deals on all-inclusive resort stays, which is awesome if that’s what you’re into, but it wasn’t our style. You will feel better spending whatever your budget is if it’s on something you both love.
    We used VRBO.com to book lodgings, and for the cost of a nice hotel instead got a cottage and a small condo, which meant we could save on food by having cereal for breakfast and PBJs while we hiked instead of buying meals out (and do laundry for free!). Use credit card rewards if you have them, cash some of those wedding checks right before you leave for some spending money, travel mid-week if you possibly can, and I definitely second all the suggestions to stay local and cut out the airfare; another upside there is it will be easier to return in the future on your anniversary!

  • Ashley

    I’m incredibly biased, but I think it’s perfectly fine to take a honeymoon not directly after the wedding, and still call it a honeymoon and think it will still be special if that’s what your situation dictates. My fiance and I don’t have the option to take time off after the wedding (no vacation time) – so we’re taking the monday off after our wedding and sleeping in and going to the beach (1/2 hour away from our apartment). The idea that my honeymoon won’t be as special because we’re taking it months after our wedding instead of immediately is ridiculous.

    • Sparkles

      We only took a couple days because of my partner’s work situation. I think if you can swing it it was really helpful to have at least a little bit of time to unwind. Even if it’s just a day or two, like you did.

    • K

      So, you know how when you get into a new relationship and it has this special kind of magic at the beginning? And then you settle into the relationship, and it’s just…different. Even if you want to, it’s pretty difficult to go back and recapture that shiny-new feeling. A honeymoon immediately after your wedding is like that. BUT, I don’t think a honeymoon has to be away from home or for any specific length of time. I think it’s about taking at least one day to just quietly sit with your new wife/husband and regroup. And, I think you can still call a delayed vacation a honeymoon, and it will still be special, it will just be a different kind of special. Just my opinion….

    • Liz

      I think that Monday off is going to be really special, and is exactly what I was suggesting.

    • Meg Keene

      I don’t think it’s about not being as special, it’s just different. Different isn’t bad, it’s just… different. I say this as someone who had a honeymoon and then had a few big vacations each summer after. Each of those trips was great (differently great). But nothing FELT the same as the time right after the wedding. It’s new and big, and you’re tired out and sort of emotionally raw. It’s kind of the same feeling as right after you have a baby, except you get to sleep and your not on pain meds. But they both are their own kind of un-recreatable magic.

      You’ll get that newness bubble on that Monday after the wedding. And then you’ll get a fab honeymoon/ vacation. Chances are, they’ll just be very different things, in the way they feel. Which isn’t a bad thing.

    • Sonny

      We’re about to take our honeymoon (next month!) after getting married last September and I’m glad we waited a bit. We did have a three day “minimoon” at a near-by hotel after the wedding, which was nice, but we were still working off residual wedding stress, plus we went overbudget on the wedding and wouldn’t have been able to splurge at all on the honeymoon if we went immediately.

  • Jen

    We got married about an hour from where we live. We had guests in the house we rented from Fri-Mon morn (the wedding was Sat), but then we rented a hotel room on Monday evening and stayed there on Monday night. It was nice to have most of Monday and all of Tuesday just for the two of us. A week would have been great, but seeing as how we already had another big week long trip planned a few months after the wedding, two days was about all our work would allow us :) We actually got home in the early afternoon on the Tuesday and was able to relax in our apartment together before going back to work the next day.

  • Kelly Benvenuto

    Do any of your friends or family have vacation places that they’d let you use for a few days? We were very lucky, and our friends’ offered to let us stay in their apartment in Hawaii while they were visiting family after our wedding. No way could we have afforded that trip otherwise.

    • Katherine

      Even a borrowed vacation house closer to home would work. At some point, I need to take up some friends offer of a weekend at their home in Michigan…

      • Kelly Benvenuto

        Oh, totally doesn’t have to be far away (it just was in our case). Cabins, lake houses, an RV, camping gear. I think people like being generous, and especially want to wish people well who are getting married.

  • bsc

    Definitely take the honeymoon right away! We just got back from ours two weeks ago and it was the BEST DECISION EVER! We loved being able to spend time reflecting on our wedding and just enjoying being husband and wife.
    In terms of planning, you can TOTALLY do something awesome for less that $2k. Groupon Getaways is a good place to check and also looking at Orbitz/Priceline/Hotwire for discounted hotels. Travel Zoo is another good site that offers packages in certain cities. You can totally do this and you will love it!!

    • APracticalLaura

      I second Travelzoo!

  • Amanda

    I’m going to echo many of the lovely ladies on here and say you 1) don’t need a travel agent and 2) can definitely do a honeymoon for less than $2k. Exotic locations are pretty awesome, but we don’t usually take trips like that. Our style is way more laid back and we love doing roadtrips together. Plus, I don’t like the stress or cost of flying. So, for our upcoming honeymoon, my fiance and I decided that we wanted a trip that reflected us. We’re located in the middle of the US (sadly, far from any coast), so we’re planning a roadtrip through southern Arkansas – hitting up Eureka Springs, Hot Springs, and then maybe over to Broken Bow, Oklahoma. We’re sticking to within a 5 hr drive from home, though we love taking backroads. We’ll probably book a room for the first night, and then see what we feel like doing. This way, if we decide we’re not enjoying the trip anymore, we can just go home and enjoy the rest of our time off together in our own house. Either way, it’s relaxed, we’re together, and having a great time.

    • Helen

      Ah, yes, we also live in the ’12 hours to anywhere’ part of the country. But your honeymoon sounds amazing! If you haven’t already booked a place to stay in Eureka, I would totally recommend the treehouse cottages (http://www.treehousecottages.com/). We stayed there for one night last winter as a short getaway and it was delightful!

    • Annie

      We’re also going to Eureka! Drive down highway 7 if you can – it’s gorgeous. I’m a big fan of Lake Ouachita, too. Check out Shangri-La in Mount Ida – they’ve got amazing pie, but you may want to call and check on the hours in the off season.

  • Molly Kopuru

    We couldn’t afford a honeymoon. It works out that we are moving tomorrow (1!!) and making it into a cross-country roadtrip… so that’s sort of a honeymoon, right? With our dogs. ;)

  • YetAnotherMegan

    Not to hijack the flow of advice, but we’re getting married next weekend. We’ve got basically 2 days booked in Ocean City,MD but nothing planned other than the hotel room (with a hot tub). Suddenly, not having plans is stressing me out. Is not at least figuring out a rough plan a bad idea? Is there even time to do anything about it? The wedding is planned and organized to the point where our caterer/reception cite were amazed, but we haven’t done anything beyond booking a hotel for the honeymoon.

    • Eh

      I wouldn’t worry about having plans for your honeymoon. In the end you might want to just stay in the hotel the whole time. Our honeymoon was one of the least plan trips I’ve ever taken. We had a rough idea of the things we wanted to do but we decided what we were doing in the morning when we got up (sleeping in sometimes resulted in us going less than we could have done).

    • Heather

      Seriously, don’t stress. Maybe look up restaurant recommendations and find one (just one!) near your hotel you like the sound of, but DON’T STRESS. Just get up and walk (or drive) somewhere when you want to leave the hotel. Or ask the concierge for recommendations. You will need a break from having plans (at least, I did). Spontaneity is beautiful sometimes.

    • emilyg25

      Don’t worry about it. We went off on our honeymoon with no plans and it was AWESOME. Relaxing, fun, and so freeing. It actually taught us a new, better way to travel. Just take each day as it comes and do whatever feels good, even if it’s napping. (We spent like 50% of our honeymoon napping.)

    • planningforfun

      If it were me, I’d try to have a basic plan for the very first things I’d need to do right after arriving (typically: where can I eat dinner after checking into the hotel). After that, you can probably rely on the advice of the concierge or front desk clerk, or rack of tourism flyers at the hotel to guide you. Otherwise, you can order a guidebook or bookmark the relevant stuff on tripadviser on your phone – but I wouldn’t try to schedule too much into the 2 days you are there.

    • Liz

      Not having a plan has been key to some of my best vacations. (But I tend to overplan and overschedule, so.)

  • Fiona

    We’re only planning to take a couple of days to go spend at a friend’s vacation house because the monies is an issue…BUT having a vaycay right after the wedding sounds like such a good idea. I think there is a lot of value in taking some time out of everyday life to reflect on what just happened.
    I still have my dream honeymoon of going to Guatemala and staying at this absolutely amazing place on the lake, and we WILL do that, but that will be honeymoon part II when the money exists.

  • PAW

    We weren’t able to do a honeymoon at the time because my husband had finals the week after our wedding (oof) – so we took a few days after the wedding, and I made a “honeymoon directory.” I listed things like, “if we want a super shmancy meal…” or “if we just want takeout, but nice takeout…” and put down URLs and phone numbers, along with a few activity ideas: go get red bull and stay up all night playing World of Warcraft, go hiking at the local falls, brew beer … It was really fun! (Even if we mostly lazed on the couch in PJs, wiggled our toes, and reveled in just not planning a wedding anymore!)
    Oh, and also? That travel agent can go sit in a corner and take a time out. WTF, seriously.

  • Laurel

    I think it really depends on what you want, what you can do, and what you think is right. We had a parent who wanted to contribute to the wedding, and since we are having a fairly low-key (not inexpensive but not outrageous) wedding, we used his contribution for a honeymoon. BUT I have friends who waited to go on a honeymoon until months after their wedding. Instead, they got to spend more time with friends who were in town post-wedding–which was awesome for them and their friends and family who had traveled from all over the world! I also have friends who planned a small (i.e. within short driving distance), inexpensive getaway to a place they had never been and then plan to do a “trip of a lifetime” sort of thing for their first (or another significant) anniversary. I think it can all work as long as you talk about it, and you are VERY clear about your expectations for the wedding, the days after the wedding, and what kind of celebration you might have down the road. A honeymoon right after the wedding can probably be stressful, too, if you don’t have clear expectations (e.g. Do you want to relax, or do you want to do it up?).

  • honeymooning!

    I recommend looking at direct flights from the airport closest to you. Road trips and stay-cations are great honeymoons, but if you can get a direct flight it might be inexpensive enough to give you a great honeymoon for under 2K somewhere distant and new to you. I looked at all of those blog posts about the best honeymoon destinations, but…so expensive! In the end, where we’re going was dictated by where we can get through a direct flight. Salt Lake City sounds like an odd choice for a honeymoon at first, but we quickly came up with the idea to road trip from there through Grand Teton and Yellowstone. And neither of us has ever been to that part of the county. And we met in a National Park! How perfect is that?! I think I’m more excited for the honeymoon than the wedding.

    • Ella

      Ahh that sounds amazing! I LOVE Grand Tetons/Yellowstone. You’ll have an amazing time! :)

    • NrgGrl

      Whoa, cool/crazy: For our honeymoon, we are doing the Exact. Same. Thing. YAY! Have a great time!

  • Inmara

    We didn’t have time off work for a honeymoon, but we took Monday off, which I really recommend for couples who can’t afford more time right after the wedding. We stayed in a suite at our wedding venue (it was countryside guest house, and nobody around except us and the hosts) Sunday night and just get ourselves to recap the wedding (Did you see X on the dance floor? And can you believe the masquerade our friends had prepared for us? etc.etc.) and immerse in relaxation after all that planning madness and joyful, but long wedding day. In Monday we returned all rental items, got to our house with gifts and leftover food and drinks, and had a day to adapt to everyday life again. So, not exactly a honeymoon or even mini-moon, but these moments were really worth it!

    Also, I second suggestion to plan one day at home before returning to work if you take longer honeymoon; I usually try to do that when going on vacations, especially those which include long flights.

  • laddibugg

    Maybe check out Groupon/living social for travel deals? Never used them, so I don’t know how good it is, but I always see all-inclusive (including airfare) deals for under $1,000PP. The one *I* am currently drooling over is to Ireland for $999, and it even includes a rental car (manual, though, so boo!)

    You can call your trip whatever you like, but I kinda agree with Anna that it’s not really a honeymoon if it’s well after your wedding. That being said, why not just wait a year and go on your first anniversary. You can still get the ‘awws’ and ‘ooos’ if you tell people you were too poor to go when you got married and that you scrimped and pinched for the past year to go now.

  • Heather

    Something I think is a grand idea is going to a hotel in your city, but to a part you’ve never been to, and hunkering in a hotel or getting lost in a new neighborhood- my cousin did this just as a weekend getaway- refusing to go anywhere below 28th Street in NYC, because she knows that area and all it has to offer very well. Above 28th Street? New restaurants and side streets to explore. a hotel to hide in and a new view to take in. It’s a great way to get away, without the expense of flying. And yes, give yourself an extra day before returning to work! If you can, also give yourself a day between the wedding and starting the honeymoon- it’s nice to have a moment to gather yourself in your own space before heading out. We always clean before we go away because it’s key to our coming back relaxed, and before we went on the honeymoon, we unpacked the wedding stuff, opened cards and deposited checks. It was so helpful to be able to do that. ALSO! Bring your guestbook (if you have one) on the honeymoon and read it there, but not before. It’s magic.

  • emilyg25

    We did a low-key little honeymoon road trip. The most important thing to us was just to be together, alone, out of town. It wasn’t very splashy, and it was only five days, but it was perfect. Honestly, we’re so happy we did it that way because we couldn’t handle another big production after pulling off our wedding.

    Maybe pick a place you like within 2-3 hours of your home and just go chill there for a few days. Remember, you’ll have many years to take vacation together, so your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a blowout.

  • Allison

    To be honest, all of those groupon/living social “deals” are not truly deals though they get points for being easy. In terms of finding a deal, it is completely possible to have a honeymoon for less than $2K. Here are some examples:

    1. SE Asia for $3K for 3 Weeks. Booked award flights using Delta miles which left us all of the cash for hotels, food and experiences and was plenty. Shortening the time would have proportionally saved us cash.

    2. 5 “Adult Spring Breaks” 5 Days, 4 Nights at an All Inclusive for $600 PP. Using matrix.itasoftware.com, we determined where the top 5 cheapest flight-date combinations were to a beach location then pulled up those locations in travelocity/expedia to match to packages. The all inclusive resort aspect meant that all of our activities and food didn’t come out of pocket once we were there. As long as you don’t want to go over Christmas/NYE, there are ALWAYS deals to the Dominican Republic and Mexico where there is a lot of hotel competition.
    3. Mistake Fare (check flyertalk forums for these) to Istanbul 3 Nights, 4 Days. The airlines messed something up which meant we found $400 RT nonstop tickets. It was off season, so a 4-5* hotel was $150 a night.

    To me, the key is almost always going to be managing your expectations to your budget and finding the flights. Will you get to go to the Amalfi Coast in August and stay in a gorgeous villa with $2K? Probably not. Will you get to have an awesome honeymoon and have a bunch of options? Absolutely.

  • Zoo

    We were fortunate to be able to take a big vacation for our honeymoon, but my parents were pretty broke when they got married so I’ll tell you what they did.

    My parents drove up to Glacier National Park in Canada and stayed at the park hotel for as long as they could afford it (2! whole! nights!). Then they camped for a few more days and enjoyed the natural splendor, while having drinks in the hotel lobby at night and listening to the piano player in front of the fire. At 10 o’clock every night, a mouse ran across the floor between one set of curtains and another. Why do I know that? Because for my entire childhood, they would not shut up about their honeymoon. It was apparently THAT awesome. Romantic, adventurous, and relatively inexpensive.

    • http://underacorktree.blogspot.com Christina Josephine

      Oh my. I love, love, love this story! Especially because we will be camping for the majority of our honeymoon.

    • Leigh W.

      Allison, what a lovely story. My parents had a similar one. They rented a house boat on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky for a week. They picked the cheapest model to save money, but they loved their honeymoon of lounging and playing cards and scrabble together. ;-)

    • Meg Keene

      My parents went down to Carmel for as long as they could afford it (a few nights?) and then spent the rest of their honeymoon driving from San Francisco to Miami to move there, taking the slow route. They also always talk about it. Apparently my dad got to “show off his new bride” to his family in Birmingham, which he still seems pleased about. And my mom saw NOLA for the first and only time. They stayed in terrible motels the whole way (they were flat broke) but they don’t care.

    • NW

      Glacier National Park is truly incredible. That would be an awesome honeymoon.

    • Dacia E.

      My parents did something very similar! Went to Big Sur and stayed
      there just a few days, then drove the California coast. Even though they lived relatively close by, it
      was one of their favorite places in the world, and that made it special.
      (It was also special because my mom spent almost the whole time helping
      my dad study for his PhD general exam. Bonding through flash cards!)

    • slmrlln

      My parents went camping in the Boundary Waters for their honeymoon and it rained the entire week. So while I love camping and generally endorse it, you might want to have a backup plan.

  • K

    We managed to go to Paris for about $2500 total, and it was spectacular. I think there are a few key tricks for going to exotic locations for a more reasonable price that could be applied to a number of destinations.

    (1) Flights: We used some points to help with the cost of one flight, but it wasn’t totally covered. We also live in a city with direct flights to Paris. Another thing to aim for is traveling in the shoulder season and not on a weekend– our wedding was in October, and we flew direct to Paris the Tuesday after our wedding. Two flights were about $1200 total.

    (2) Lodging: We had no interest in luxurious hotels and preferred the idea of apartment living. So, we rented a studio apartment on AirBnB for $120/night. It overlooked a lovely courtyard and was quiet and centrally-located.

    (3) Food/activities: Paris is a strolling and people-watching city, so we didn’t spend much money on activities– just one museum and the Eiffel Tower. Breakfasts were croissants and baguettes from bakeries, and picnic lunches were THE BEST. Dinners were at sidewalk restaurants and cafes, and that’s where we spent the bulk of our food money. So, technically we ate out for every meal, but when breakfast is $5, it’s way more financially manageable. And it felt luxurious, especially when eating at least a stick of butter with each pastry :)

    (4) Duration of trip: We stayed in Paris for 5 nights. Paying for fewer nights made it affordable, and though it doesn’t sound like much, it was a really great length of time to relax, eat, stroll, reflect, and soak in such a beautiful city. A shorter honeymoon did not cheapen the experience, as many people have already said.

    • River

      Thank you thank you thank you for this :-) We’ve always dreamed of going to Paris, it’s been an inside joke of ours since we first started dating and realized that we both carry our passports on our person at all times. …But lately every time someone asks me about the honeymoon, I get this awful pit in my stomach, like what are we thinking, there’s no way we could ever afford this. But based on the things you laid out (and some quick Travel zoo spying) we might yet be able to swing it. Yay January wedding = cheaper flights!!

      • K

        Awesome! You can totally make it happen! And January flights will probably be even better than October flights were :)

        • River

          also, I had it in my head, that the trip would only be “worth it” if we went for at least ten days. But you make five days sound heavenly ;-) and that actually seems to put it in our price range!

  • TeaforTwo

    Echoing everyone else who says that OF COURSE you have have a special honeymoon for under $2K. I would even go so far as to say that the honeymoon – for us, at least – wouldn’t have been a great time to undertake major, once-in-a-lifetime travel.

    We flew out the morning after our wedding to an all-inclusive resort. We are not normally “resort people,” and if I were planning my dream trip, that wouldn’t be it. But for our honeymoon it was perfect: we had a 5-month engagement, 150 guests at our wedding, and my husband was in the middle of articling. I didn’t have time or energy to plan one single detail more than we did. A honeymoon where we had to decide only between sitting by the beach or sitting by the pool freed us up to relax, process the emotions of the wedding, and really just enjoy being together.

    A resort may not be your thing. (We got married in a blizzard, and so the beach had special allure at the time.) But I would tell anyone who’d listen to keep their honeymoon as simple as possible: a week at a borrowed cottage, a few nights in a B&B in the nearest charming small town. (Essentially: anywhere you have lots of sex without your laundry hamper in your sightline.) Minimal planning, maximum quiet moments to look over at your partner and take in the fact that you did it – you’re married!

    • ruth

      “Essentially: anywhere you have lots of sex without your laundry hamper in your sightline.) Minimal planning, maximum quiet moments to look over at your partner and take in the fact that you did it – you’re married!” THIS! Although my hubby and I did splurge for a big destination honeymoon, at the end of the day it all came down to this :)

    • Danielle

      This is what we’re doing after our wedding in August. Just a week of deciding – sit by the pool, sit by the lake… We wanted to plan a trip where we would need to make as few decisions as possible.

      • TeaforTwo

        Exactly! I had such decision fatigue after the wedding that it was wonderful to feel like someone else was taking care of it all.

        (Also, I think I was out of compromise at that point. It wasn’t just the decisions of the wedding that were exhausting – it was making so many small decisions TOGETHER. I couldn’t fathom trying to come to consensus on which cities/modes of transport/hotels/meals/sights etc. It was much easier to pick a resort, pack some books, snuggle and drink cocktails.)

    • Liz

      I am decidedly NOT a resort person, and had the same experience. My idea of a dream vacation involves no sand, no made-for-tourist accommodations. But being able to just do nothing for a week was bliss. BLISS.

  • Christina McPants

    Our 10 day honeymoon cost us, I think, about $3,000, including rental car, hotel and food. We had a honeymoon registry to help offset costs and flew to San Francisco, rented a car, drove up the cost to Seattle and flew home. My parents gifted us one set of tickets and we used credit card points to pay for the second set. We pricelined nearly every hotel and used a USAA discount for the rental car. We ate at cheap restaurants, had hotel breakfasts or bought food from the grocery store and had it for lunches. My point is, DUDE, OF COURSE you can keep it cheap. Go on a road trip. Stay at an air b’n’b. Have a weekend adventure. Be creative with your food choices. Not every honeymoon needs to be sitting on a beach in the Caribbean. Do what feels authentically you. One of our favorite parts of that honeymoon was running around a tourist attraction gift shop and another having a terrible, terrible meal on the Oregon coast, while watching the sunset.

    But I think taking that break after your wedding is super important. We got married on Saturday and left for the honeymoon on Monday. Monday was *rough,* but we really cherished that time away. And for both of us, it’s the only vacation we’ve had that wasn’t visiting family.

  • Helen

    We were in the same boat– wanting to pay off loans and not willing/able to spend a huge amount on a honeymoon. We paid for our wedding on our own, too, so didn’t have the extra anyway. :) Instead, we picked a city that was interesting within driving distance, booked a really nice hotel on Hotwire (we just picked one with 4/5 stars and since it didn’t tell us the name of the hotel until after we booked, it was still under $100/night) and spent several days exploring the city, going to inexpensive but fascinating events and attractions, and… mostly lounging around the hotel a whole lot, taking bubble baths, eating whatever takeout struck our fancy and watching movies. I think it was important for us to get away from normal life. Our honeymoon wasn’t fancy or exotic, but it was the best thing for us and I loved it.

  • kristylisty

    We’re getting married in Michigan in August. We rented a cabin in the Upper Peninsula for $450 for a week. It’s on a river, in a beautiful, beautiful area. We’re going to spend 5 days relaxing in our post wedding high. The cabin comes with a boat and has a fire pit. We’re going to fish in the nearby lake, kayak the pictured rocks shoreline and spend a day in Marquette. We’ve put some honeymoon costs on our registry. We’re going to spend less than $1,000 and it’ll be the most perfect thing we could imagine.

    • Lauren

      Michiganders have it the best — there are so many amazing places in state to go on vacation!

  • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

    I think a big idea people don’t take advantage of is US travel. Our country is huge! There are beautiful beaches in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Florida, etc. that many people haven’t been too. There are also great B&B areas and small towns on the coasts in New England and the Pacific NW. There are ways to do a honeymoon without going far or spending too much money. Also, you can always limit the length of your honeymoon. Not everyone can afford (financially or with work schedules) to take a two week honeymoon.

    I really wish we have listened to some of the above advice. We listened to about half of it, mainly the US travel part. But we still spent more money than we thought and probably could have have a better time having a shorter “beachy” honeymoon in Florida or Georgia.

    • http://www.therewm.com/ Rachel W. Miller

      Agree completely! Honeymoon now implies “beach” and “flight” but there are so many cool things to do all across the country.

      • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

        Two friends of ours (teachers) took the summer off to drive the entirety of Route 66. Talk about badass US trips to take. <3

    • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

      Fistbump to Georgia beach mention! Jekyll and St. Simons are really fabulous places to do on a budget, and there’s so much history there. And Savannah is amazing! Not a beach, but a lovely place to be a tourist in for a weekend.

    • Meg Keene

      True story. I’ve traveled now inside and outside the country. But the stuff inside the country is just as interesting as the stuff outside the country. People in the US don’t tend to travel much at all, I think (just in that it’s not a huge value like it is in some other places), and we have so much to SEE here.

      Now with a kid we’re talking about getting a travel trailer so we can see a lot of it with little ones, for much less money.

    • Dawn

      If you want relaxation, look for spots where retires go to golf :-)

      We had a couple of days at West Baden Indiana. We didn’t golf and never made it to the spa (sleep was so nice!) but we went horseback riding, enjoyed a nice hot tub and, a pool, and lounged on rocking chairs on a lovely porch…There are little-known spots with great honeymoon potential all over the place!

    • http://www.rachellerawlingsphotography.com/ Rachelle

      Totally agree with this! We went to San Francisco on our honeymoon, which was really confusing for a lot of people at the time (okayyyyyy?) and it was wonderful. I had to pack sweaters and tights instead of bikinis but so what?

    • Cecily

      This is so, so true. I grew up in Connecticut and now live in Massachusetts. When I was growing up, I thought New England was boring, but I’m now realizing how many amazing places there are to see in MA, VT and NH.

  • planningforfun

    We got married about two years ago and since then I’ve watched a lot of friends and family members try to figure out the honeymoon situation. I would say the most important thing (to me) about honeymoons is that they facilitate uninterrupted time between you and your new spouse to unwind after the wedding, take in the new state of being married, and talk through all the stuff that happened. The where and how you get that experience is secondary.

    Only you know the sorts of things that would make a honeymoon idyllic for you – but I would say that almost any type of vacation can be taken at almost any pricepoint. (For instance, we happened to go to the Caribbean – but we used a groupon to get some of our lodgings and also stayed in a tent at an eco-resort to keep that aspect of the cost down so we could afford to buy plane tickets). To hold down costs think about destinations that are in the off-season when you’ll be traveling and/or places you can drive to so that you can save on transportation.

    If a honeymoon absolutely cannot take place, then my suggestion would be to think about how you can be really intentional about spending special time with your spouse after the wedding (going out to breakfast, cooking special dinners together, just turning off the phones, etc.) whatever you can plan to avoid going straight back into your normal routine would be lovely.

    Lastly, if timing is an issue, and you cannot take time off immediately after the wedding – I would strongly suggest trying instead to take time right when you get your photos back from the photographer (if applicable). I suspect that taking a couple of days together to look through all of the photos and revisit all of the wedding stuff/bliss/excitement that way would also be a great time for a honeymoon.

  • Stephanie

    Others may already have covered this, but to my mind a great affordable honeymoon option is a road trip. My husband and I did a 6-week cross-country road trip (took the northern route from Portland, Maine, to San Francisco, then headed down the coast to L.A. sloooowly with lots of stops for camping/hiking, then took the southern route back from L.A. to D.C., where we were relocating). We did a mix of hotels, airbnb, and camping. On days when we were driving, we packed a cooler, so meals involved a lot of turkey sandwiches, but we also went out to eat at lots of amazing places, saw lots of amazing things, and engaged in lots of non-free activities (white water rafting, museums), all while only spending just under $6K in 6 weeks (including a full car tune-up at the halfway point of our trip). Most people don’t have 6 weeks (I recognize we were lucky in this respect!), and many don’t even have 1 week, but to the extent you do have at least 1 week, I think the honeymoon roadtrip concept can be pared to fit your schedule/budget. Overall, too, I think a honeymoon roadtrip is a great metaphor for marriage – it’s you and your new spouse navigating new things together (some planned, some not), with periods of excitement (looking out for bears in the Tetons) alternating with periods of non-excitement (that day we drove 14 hours non-stop).

    • Meg Keene

      YES! For a lot of reasons. Weirdly, we ended up doing an international trip AND a road trip. We drove all around Scotland for most of a week. That driving around together doing nothing much was some of the best stuff. We just got time to be together, be happy, chat, make jokes, and pull off by the side of the road if we saw something interesting. It was cool to do it in Scotland, but the essence would have been the same if we’d done it in California. Without the horrible jet lag ;)

      • Stephanie

        My gosh that sounds wonderful – perhaps we’ll have to try a Scottish road trip for our 5-year anniversary in a couple of years :-).

  • http://www.therewm.com/ Rachel W. Miller

    Oh gosh, I’m so pro doing something small right after the wedding for your honeymoon! I think every city or town has something lovely and charming within driving distance…so go there! Be a tourist! A bed and breakfast, a nice rental house, and a few dinners or breakfasts out…you can do SO much cool stuff for well under $2000. I think our honeymoon was probably like $500 and most of that cost went to boarding our dogs. We went to Galveston, only an hour from home. We also flew to Charleston a few years ago and that trip was well under $2000 and was great. And I know I’ve said this before, but I’m GLAD we didn’t do a big honeymoon. I was so bummed out in the days following our wedding, I probably would have been a total downer on a big trip.

    Another added benefit of doing something slightly more local is the opportunity to discover something really special and fun that’s close to you. It’s easy to think that the only cool destinations are big cities or beach locales, but there are so many little gems across the country. And because it’s a honeymoon, you can splurge a little (like going to the best restaurant in said small town, or buying some cool souvenirs you wouldn’t normally spend on) and those little splurges make it feel so special.

  • Teresa

    I think there is a lot of pressure to make your honeymoon a once in a lifetime kind of trip and it truly doesn’t have to be that way. As everyone is saying, the most important thing is that you just have some time to hole up together and bask in the fact that you just got married and your people were there to cheer you on. You maybe only get to have one wedding, but you hopefully will not only take that one vacation, so don’t be so hard on yourself. We did an all-inclusive trip to Punta Cana and registered for it to help off-set the cost. It was in our budget and we stayed only 5 days to keep the costs down. Then, for our first anniversary, we went to Paris and London. This August, for our second anniversary, we’re going to Italy. We’re already planning our trip to Ireland and Scotland for next August. These trips have been amazing, but I would not have wanted them for my honeymoon, when I just wanted to lay around and grin (and uh…other stuff). I would have felt terrible taking a day in Paris to just lock ourselves in our room because there was SO MUCH TO SEE, so I’m glad we honeymooned where we did and saved our big trips for later. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to mean something, to be unforgettable. It just has to be the two of you reveling in your new marriage, however and wherever works best for you.

  • ash

    Mywould advice would be spend the money in airfare and go to a cheaper part of the world. We live in the uk and backpacked around central America. We were gone 7 weeks and spent what we were quoted for 2 in Europe.

    Everything was so cheap once we were there that we were able to have a mix of budget and luxury accommodation and eat out all the time for less than $50 per day. So if u want a honeymoon that feels fancy but doesn’t cost the earth something like that is a good choice.

    Otherwise i echo other suggestions of jumpping in the car and hiring an apartment.

    I would also agree with going straight away so you get chance to soak it all in

  • april

    We actually did 2 “honeymoons” – one short local trip right after the wedding and one long international trip a couple of months later (when vacation time and finances allowed).

    The short trip was to a nearby beach. We stayed in a cheap hotel, played minigolf, ate boardwalk fries and saltwater taffy, and lounged on the beach for three days. It was cheap and relaxing and the perfect follow-up to the craziness of the wedding.

    The long trip took us to Iceland, Germany, and France – and even though it was a good 7 months after the wedding, it absolutely felt like a honeymoon (so I’m going to have to disagree with Liz on that one). I won’t lie, that one was expensive, althought we pinched some pennies by staying at self-catering apartments and organizing everything ourselves – but going abroad was something we really wanted to do. We actually used HoneyFund and asked guests to contribute to the trip as their gift to us, which is a great option if an expensive trip is something you’re considering. You can estimate costs ($10 for bike rentals, for example, or $100 for one night in a hotel room) so that people can feel like they’re giving you something tangible.

    • Kirstin

      We are doing the same thing. We took a week off after our wedding and are doing a staycation in our own city. Maybe not exciting for others, but it allows us to relax and unwind rather than going right back to work. And we are doing adventures in our city that we haven’t before.

      We are doing a big international trip in the fall, and we just knew that it would be too exhausting to do right after the wedding. It feels like just as much planning as the wedding and we didn’t want to have to do both at the same time. Plus we can save a bit more $. And using Honeyfund has been awesome! It helped our guests to know that we didn’t want things, and many contributed to our trip.

      Staying in our city also meant our friends and family could stick around for a little bit and we could spend more time with them. They traveled so far, we didn’t just want to see them at the wedding.

    • westcoastjd

      We had a similar arrangement. We went to the coast — to our favorite getaway B&B which is only about 90 minutes away — for two days after the wedding. For me, I don’t think I could have done anything else at that point — all I wanted was something quiet, relaxing, and familiar. And we had paid for the wedding ourselves without incurring debt (a goal of ours) — with a larger trip, we would have needed to put some of it on credit cards. A few months later, we did a five-day tropical vacation to somewhere we had been wanting to go for a while. It still felt special, like a honeymoon. And we were able to replenish our savings for it, as well as use wedding gift money received to partially fund. I loved how we did it and would highly recommend it — you don’t have to have a beach nearby — it would work just as well to do a desert retreat, mountain cottage, lakeside cabin, etc.

  • Amber Smith

    John and I are going rent a cabin in our state somewhere pretty. I imagine we won’t spend more than $500 on a couple nights in a cabin and a couple of nice dinners.

    • april

      This is another really great idea. A lot of State and National parks have really lovely, inexpensive cabins you can rent – and what’s more romantic than a day of wandering through the woods (or lounging by a lake) followed by an evening campfire?

  • jashshea

    Absolutely possible to spend less than 2k! Where are you and what do you like to do? How much time do you have to get away? How good are you at dealing with imperfect conditions?

    General Advice:
    -Go where other people aren’t. If it’s crowded in a location, prices are at a premium. Avoid popular festivals.
    -Go off season or to lesser known destinations. Be willing to stay in a cold mountain cabin in early fall or at the beach in late September.
    -Don’t stay in hotels unless you get a crazy good deal; instead stay in an apartment or hostel (they do have private rooms!).
    -Use miles, credit card points, wedding cash, etc to offset the costs or to upgrade yourselves.
    -Google Nomadic Matt and read his tips on spending very little cash on a trip (I know! You want to live it up on the honeymoon! But his tips are a great way to really experience a place and save a little cash.)
    -Eat breakfast at the hotel/apartment/convenience store

    Note 1: I can give concrete advice about locations in the US, eastern Canada, NZ, & parts of Europe (avoid London, Switzerland, core cities in Germany to save $$). I like the beach, mountains, and cities equally and typically try to include all in my trips. I love food and drinks and that is typically my #1 expense on vacations.

    Note 2: My husband & I are typically budget travelers (though our honeymoon was a bit of an outlier). I spent less than $2000 (food, hotels, entertainment, trains) on a 21 day trip to Germany (flight was on miles). On another trip to Portugal, I spent ~2k total including an $1100 flight.

    Note 3: I wish I could plan other peoples’ vacations for a living, especially when there limitations on time and budget. So fun for me!

    • KI

      I like your style!!

  • KI

    We found a nice package to St. Maarten through JetBlue and it was pretty inexpensive since it was their off season. We basically ate, slept and enjoyed the beach and pool for 5 days. I am so glad we went somewhere after the wedding…we were exhausted, both of us got sick and being away from home just let us be with each other and gear up for real world craziness when we got home. If you plan smart, you can have an amazing, low cost honeymoon. If you are a few months from your honeymoon, that means hurricane season, you can get amazing deals through most of the airlines complete with hotels because that is the off OFF season. Buy travel insurance if you’re timid about it. You could even find an all-inclusive resort if you want to remove any question marks about budget. The point of the honeymoon is to be together…don’t get caught up in planning the trip of a lifetime. That can come later. :) Good luck!

  • mere…

    My marriage/wedding/honeymoon timeline is very atypical. My husband was in his first year in med school when we got married. He had a final on Friday, we got married Saturday morning, and he had a mandatory class on Monday. Our community wedding was the following summer on the 28th – I had a major work deadline the 1st – 5th of the month and he started classes again the 7th. He hasn’t had more than 3 days off in a row since then when a major Board Exam wasn’t involved. Point being, we never took a honeymoon. As someone who never had the opportunity for a honeymoon I wanted to add to the thread. I don’t think we suffered any for not having a getaway from the world. I know we made the right decision for what we had going on in our world right then & we just made sure we carved out some time to connect post-wedding.

    That said, if you have the opportunity to take a honeymoon of any scale, I really recommend it. I think there is something really special about that time right after your wedding and if you don’t take a break, it can slip by quickly. I think it would have been a real asset to our relationship to have a few private moments away from “the real world”. There are so many special (and affordable) suggestions on here. I hope you find one that works for you all!

    We do have a major vacation planned following his graduation and have promised each other that we will get away no matter what work/life events would make it easy to cancel. 12 months to go!

  • CR

    I honestly did not have the time/energy to plan an elaborate honeymoon (having knee surgery, moving, and changing jobs in the two months prior to the wedding, and finalizing wedding plans while still on crutches kept me busy!)….I was a bit stressed about it, seeing as my hubby and I are usually planners and rarely go for spur-of-the-moment travel adventures, but in the end, we just rolled with it and everything worked out beautifully!! We called for a hotel reservation Tuesday morning after the wedding and hit the road an hour later in the car – which was perfect, since we had time to spend with family before they left the area as well as a night at home to relax and sort through some things. We drove about 5 hours up to Quebec City, which is incredibly romantic but very easy travel-wise for us, coming from Maine. We had 4 days there, relaxing in a hotel and checking out the town….Montmorency Falls was gorgeous without being overly strenuous for my knee (thank you, cool gondola rides!!), so we even got to do some outdoors stuff that we both enjoy. Delicious food, wonderful sights, and something for everyone. We stayed just outside of the Old City to save a bit on expenses. It felt like a romantic trip to France without the $$$ or hours on a plane :)

    So, my suggestion would be for a car trip for reduced costs but also for less stress as far as packing and being able to control your own timetable for travel. Mostly, even though it was just a couple of days away, it was so nice to just relax and enjoy being together. It doesn’t require a lot of planning or money to have a memorable and wonderful honeymoon — it just takes you two and a sense of adventure :) Have fun!!

    • jashshea

      Quebec City is amazing! Such a cool trip!

    • Emily

      I grew up in Vermont, and I can’t speak of Montreal and Quebec City highly enough! Everyone should visit/honeymoon there, it really is like a European getaway.

  • Lawyerette510

    We’ve done both Mexico and Hawaii for under $2000 for two people each time, traveling from the SF Bay Area. We go during off and shoulder seasons and fly on the days that have lower fares. It’s more challenging with honeymoons right after the wedding because your dates are less flexible. That said what we did for our honeymoon is stayed at the hotel an extra night, which was awesome and so relaxing, then drove down the coast to a small town and lovely hotel we love and tool advantage of the mid week rates there, then went home with a detour to a wine tasting a friend had comped for us thanks to someone she knew and a nice lunch, then got home on Friday evening and enjoyed being together at home.

    By driving we saved money and it was very relaxing to go on our own time instead of making a flight. Also, we stayed somewhere that served breakfast, had a pool and bikes to use for free, so we cruised around town, bought things at the grocery for a picnic, and had snacks and wine we had brought left over from the wedding.

    We looked at airbnb and vrbo but it cost more per night and we knew we could eat well picnic style or at local places that didn’t cost that much. Also our room had a hotel.

    You can make this happen! Just think outside the box and look for places and activities that aren’t high season for the time.

    Also, look at Travelzoo and similar discount sites

    • Emily

      Do you have any Hawaii-specific tips?? We’ve only just begun planning our October honeymoon (most likely in Kauai), but we’re definitely hoping to do it as cheaply as possible. We’re flying from Ohio unfortunately, so flights are bound to be more expensive, but I’d love any lodging/excursion/dining penny-pinching tips you might have! Thanks so much!

      • Lawyerette510

        October is a great time to go to Hawaii, as it’s a shoulder-season of sorts and one of the times I’ve seen good deals. When looking at tickets, Google has a predictor service that can be of help in timing when to buy. Also, you may have success in finding a deal on a flight from Ohio to a west coast airport with lots of flights to Hawaii like Oakland, SFO, LAX or Seattle, then finding a deal on another airline to and from Hawaii. There is risk in that as far as timing goes, so I would only do it if it was a significant savings and could be arranged with a big chunk of time for connections.

        So once you’re there, then what? We’ve had great success using VRBO and Airbnb to find places to stay on both Maui and Kauai. I know other people who have had similar success finding great deals for trips in March/April and October/ November using Hotels.com or similar sites. Also, TravelZoo tends to have lots of Hawaii deals as well.

        I think the key for VRBO and Airbnb is being flexible on aesthetics or location order to get a good price. My philosophy with Hawaii is “I’m not going for where I’m staying, I’m going so I can be there.” I want somewhere I can have a good nights sleep (so not loud or a horrible bed) and I want somewhere I can easily get to the good stuff. We’ve gone for a funky studio because it was walking distance to a beach and restaurants we love, and (when in a group) we’ve gone for a cool house that was driving distance to pretty much everything. Both were great deals.

        Kauai is an awesome island and great deals can be found there, especially in some of the older condo complexes that aren’t as amenity laden, but are well cared for and people are updating units. Princeville on the North Shore tends to have a large inventory of units, so prices are good. Those units won’t be walking distance to great beaches, but they will be cheap and an easy drive, and there’s a Foodland there for great Poke. There are other good deals to be had on the “Coconut Coast” aka the East Side. Bonus for there, you can get up to see the sunrise on the beach. The North and East sides are tropical, lush and have brief passing rain showers most of the time. The South Shore is another good option, although I prefer the jungle vibe of the North Shore and I think those beaches are prettier. Also, one of the best massages I’ve ever had was from http://www.luanaalohamassage.com who is on the North Shore past Hanalei.

        Maui is another awesome option, and maybe my favorite Island because there is more snorkeling there. Maui is more developed than Kauai, so has higher vacancy rates. Also, depending on what you felt like doing, how much you wanted to explore, you could get away with not having a car in Maui or only having a car for part of the time. West Maui, particularly Kaanapali and Lahaina are popular places to stay because they have a great mix of good food and shops and amazing beaches- you could not have a car over here. If you go much north of Kaanapali, like to Kapalua you’re crossing what is usually a wind break so the beaches are nice but often a little windier. Also Kapalua is often one of the two most expensive areas to stay in. South Maui is another great area to stay in, in particular Kihei. It feels a little generic in some ways, but it’s the drier part of the island and has one great beach after another plus plenty of places to eat, buy groceries, drink etc. I particularly like south Kihei near the Kaamole beaches, especially Kaamole 3. You could certainly be happy without a car in South Maui. If you are in West Maui, please go eat at Star Noodle, it’s amazing food. If you’re in South Maui, Sorrento’s on the water, behind the Day’s Inn (I’ve never looked at their prices, but it could be an awesome place to stay as it is beach-front and probably not that much) has a delicious breakfast for a decent price.

        Car Rental– In Kauai we’ve had success just bidding on a car using one of the many sites you can do that through now. We haven’t bothered with a convertible in Kauai because of the passing rains. In Maui, Aloha Car Rental has semi-beater cars at a good price. While we enjoy when we can get a convertible in our price-range, often we can’t so we get a subcompact and it is just fine. Again, if you pick where you’re staying and know that you don’t want to roam very far, you don’t have to rent a car. Especially in Maui, which has decent bus service.

        Food & Drink– we take the approach of trying to do at least one meal, usually two a day self-catered and then hitting either an early or late happy hour (or eating out for breakfast or a plate lunch) and then one or two “treat” meals. We make a stop at Costco on our way from the airport to wherever we stay (both islands have a Costco near the airport). We usually get hummus, chips/ crackers/ salty snack of some sort we know we’ll eat a whole bag of, good bread for toast/ sandwiches, carrots, spinach or another veggie we like cold and hot, POG Juice, Ginger Juice (if they have it), lemons/limes, rum and a couple of bottles of wine. Then we stop at Foodland and get Poke (raw tuna with sauce– it’s awesome), a package of pineapple sausages or chicken breasts, and a stick of butter. We pack a small thing of jam in our bag, because good jam is expensive and we won’t use a whole jar of it. Sometimes we get 6 eggs. We get fruit from one of the fruit stands/ farmer’s markets (look online for schedules) or Foodland if the timing isn’t right for fruitstands.

        Then our eating looks something like this: breakfast is toast with butter and jam, papaya, maybe eggs and tea/ coffee or an early morning walk for a coffee drink. Lunch we take to the beach with us and is usually hummus and avocado sandwiches, veggie sticks,and something salty. We pack reusable ziplock containers for sandwiches and chips (actually we pack snacks for the flight in them, use them on the beach, then pack snacks for the flight home). We also make rum punch to take to the beach with us (and bring our reusable GoVino glasses to drink out of). Then we either go to early or late happy hour for dinner or home and use the grill every condo complex has to grill up some sausages or chicken with some veggies or eat poke. In South Maui, lots of the restaurants have happy hours on both food and drink, we love Monkey Pod Kitchen. Three’s Bar and Grill also comes to mind as having killer happy hour specials for food and drink both. In West Maui, Fleetwood’s on Front Street has a roof-top deck with good happy hour and a great sunset view. In Kauai we pretty much just cook at home, and hit up some of the awesome farmer’s markets for produce. That said, in Kauai we make a point to hit Puka Dog (in Hanalei or Poipu), Java Kai and Mermaids Cafe in Kapaa, and treat ourselves to a nice dinner at Bar Acuda in Hanalei.

        Beach Accessories– If you poke around, you can find places that rent good beach chairs and umbrellas, if where you’re staying doesn’t have them, as well as renting snorkel stuff if you’re into that. There’s a place in the middle of Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai that does (can’t remember the name, but it’s on the ocean side of the road in the shopping center over there) and there’s a place in Kihei (probably more than one throughout Kihei, but just one that comes to mind that is on S. Kihei road in the Rainbow Shopping Center under Cafe O’Lei. You can get the good Tommy Bahama chairs that have straps so they are easy to carry. You may also be able to rent a soft-sided cooler if where you stay doesn’t have one.

        Obviously, if you’re staying at a resort, you don’t need many of the above suggestions because it’s a whole other ball game…

        I think I went kinda overboard, but I really love Hawaii and we are lucky enough to go semi-regularly.

        Good luck!

        • Emily

          Wow, thanks so much for sharing all of that!! Extremely helpful. I’m so excited now!

          • Lawyerette510

            My pleasure! Also, I meant to say– think about registering for a honeymoon fund. There’s so many different ways to do it. I recently saw some friends who did it (I can’t remember through which site) but they broke it down piece by piece, so people felt like they were getting them something specific, or could just give towards the general fund. E.g. “1 night in Kauai, $175, want 6″ “1 bottle of wine at Bar Acuda Restaurant $45 want 1″ “1 brunch buffet at the Ritz Hanalei Bay $X want 2″ “1 day Napali Coast Tour for 2, $100, want 1″ you get the idea. Then people who love food can “get” you dinner, people who like adventurous stuff can get you a snorkel trip or helicopter ride, and you can put smaller breakdowns on there too, like “Shave Ice Break $10 want 5″ or “Puka Dog with Lemonade and Chips $12 want 2″

  • Alice

    I know it’s been mentioned, but the B&B idea is a great one, and you can also sometimes get a better deal. We’re spending our first two nights in one less than an hour from our house, but it is amazing, friendly, and also gives first-time local customers half off on weeknights! These smaller places are often willing to work with you to make things special, or may offer deals that they don’t post online. Always worth giving them a call in person to discuss it.

  • MisterEHolmes

    Totally practical advice on the “hows”:
    -if you’re still early in the wedding-planning process, research and procure a good travel credit card. You don’t have to go into any bonus debt: just funnel all your wedding purchases through the credit card and get the points. We paid for our honeymoon flights completely this way–free travel points.

    -Check out TripAdvisor for tips and reviews and suggestions of places you may want to go (even locally!). Lots of great resources and suggestions on food, experiences, and more.

    -Consider skipping the hotel and getting a vacation rental instead. There are multiple trustworthy sites for this, and it’s nice to have a full kitchen, etc., and they’re often cheaper.

    -If you’re in the U.S., at least, camping is a completely viable option and there is plenty of incredible landscapes to look at. Just pick up an audiobook or two to help with the ride (plus it’s a good bonding experience)!

  • Valerie Day

    I had the whole week off work after the wedding but we still had guests in town, and my wife had school (our wedding was during her one week break!). We have had lovely trips each year we’ve been together, and are planning another one for July as a honeymoon. Driving to an island, staying in an Air bnb cottage, kayaking, and poking around for five days. I am greatly looking forward to it. I am not sure if going right away would have been great for us. Its really good to have something to look forward to. I am having post-wedding blues compounded by finding out the week before our wedding that we have to move. I hate moving, and seem to do it for one reason or another every single year. So we will move, and then go on a relationship-trip. We travel so much for family and for friends (weddings!) that I like the idea of having a yearly us-trip, even if we keep it to under $1,000. Also, towards another commenter: I LOVE grocery store meals and cooking in a tiny cottage sounds awesome to me! Also, one or two nice meals out!

  • KC

    We had a “staycation” in the apartment we were moving into after the wedding. It was like camping without bugs or mud and with a better mattress (because things weren’t totally moved in yet, so there was much improvisation cooking-wise, etc.). No one knew where we were or where our new apartment was (because we had kept it Top Sekrit) and it was *awesome*. That said, this wouldn’t work for everyone; what we most needed was quiet time alone together, because the lead up to the wedding was so insane; I would have hated having to go somewhere and feel pressure to do all the touristy things or deal with “service professionals” or navigate anything, really. Instead we ordered in, took super-ninja trips to Trader Joe’s for other food, and… basically just hid and napped and talked and snuggled and whatnot. For a week. As stated, it was AWESOME. :-)

  • http://3upadventures.com Beth

    Ask your parents what they did for their honeymoon. Then maybe ask aunts/uncles and grandparents. I haven’t done a ton of research on this but from what I can gather from my own family, the big honeymoon wasn’t A Thing until relatively recently. (And at that, my cousin got married young and took a weekend trip to Victoria, B.C. from Seattle; not exactly distant journey even though it was international.) Like Liz mentioned above, a hotel in your own city could be really relaxing. Perhaps get on Kayak and find somewhere in the states you can fly for less than $200 each and go spend a weekend and explore (bonus points if you can mostly use public transit and then get a ZipCar or similar to explore the surrounding area one day).

    My husband and I planned a delayed honeymoon to Hawaii (we did it on the cheap for sure: http://3upadventures.com/hawaii-on-a-budget/) but what really felt like our honeymoon was our stopover on the way home from our wedding (http://3upadventures.com/wedding-part-22-impromptu-moon/). It was lovely. People were happy to toast us as the newlyweds and we were still floating in wedding bliss.

    • Stephanie

      Such a good point about honeymoons being a big “thing” for our generation. My husband’s grandparents were married in San Francisco just after World War II. For their honeymoon, they took a road trip down to LA and visited Disneyland! As simple as it was, you can tell they totally cherished that time together just the two of them, and they’re still talking about memories from that trip 65 years later!

    • Meg Keene

      YES to asking family!!

    • Alisha

      So true! I was really trying to make my schedule work so we could take a week-long honeymoon right after the wedding. Then my parents told me they both had to go back to work after their wedding, so they got married on Saturday, drove the hour to Boston and went to a Red Sox game on Sunday, and went on a longer beach honeymoon a few months later. They have great memories from both, so I don’t feel as stressed about it.

  • http://www.mrsrobbinssparkles.com/ Jennifer Robbins

    My husband and I spent 4 nights and 5 days in Key West for under $2,000, but we probably could’ve done it for nearly half that if we wanted. We chose a top rated B&B that we LOVED so we splurged on that, but we found cheap airfare (around $500 for both of us from Dallas to Key West) and tried to keep our expenses down when we were there. We were given some last minute cash gifts at the wedding that we told to use on the honeymoon, so had some amazing lobster dinners, but you can totally eat on a budget while you are there.
    The best thing I thought we did though was wait a couple days to go. Our wedding was Saturday, and we decided not to fly out until Tuesday. We ended up driving down to Dallas on Monday and staying in a hotel down there so we could take our time and not rush. (We actually woke up to a flat tire on Monday morning so I’m so glad we did that!)

  • UpstateNYBride

    We budgeted just slightly more for our honeymoon, about $3000. We live in New York and are having a honeymoon in California where we fly into LA and then drive up the coast. To save money and because we love it, we are camping along the way in some places and then in LA and our stops in San Francisco we booked rooms with Airbnb. Because I think it is always helpful to see a detailed list of expenses here is ours so far (we leave on June 13th!)
    Flights for 2 people round trip from NY to LA: $850 (used flight watchdog sites to find cheapest flights)
    Airbnb Stay in LA for 3 nights: $385
    Airbnb Stay in SF for 2 nights: $309
    Campsites for 7 nights ($40 per night): $280
    Car rental for one week: $285
    Total spent so far: $2109
    We still have food and gas to budget for. We also set up a honeymoon registry, if we get gifts from that we can “upgrade” parts of our honeymoon like maybe go for a fancier meal while in LA or San Francisco or do some extra activities.
    If you don’t do the cross country flight, then doing the same sort of camp/airbnb roadtrip could be done for less than $2000 I think. Like if we had done an East coast version of this. I will admit it was a lot of work researching different places and plotting out the roadtrip.

  • Anne

    My husband and I actually spent more on our international honeymoon than our wedding! (We had a super economical wedding during the recession.) In the years since, one of the most economical ways we’ve found to travel is to backpack or camp. I wouldn’t recommend an intense backpacking trip though — too many logistics.

    We just got back from a 9-day vacation in the American South West. We visited Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park. We camped for about half the time and stayed in motels the other half. We had an absolutely splendid time and went on some memorable hikes. We ate breakfast and lunch out of a cooler, and went out to dinner most of the time. We even had a splurge meal and hotel suite in Vegas on the way home. Total cost $1600.

  • Amy March

    My advice is stop looking for a “honeymoon” and start looking for a “vacation.” There’s all kinds of frugal travel advice out there, but honeymoon specific stuff tends to assume what you want most out of life is an all-inclusive beach resort. If you don’t, you’ll be better off searching for more general travel tips.

    • meg

      We went to Iceland off-season and found a lot of free or low-cost stuff to do – hiking, seeing national historical sites, wandering around lava fields in the Westman Islands, etc. Iceland is not the cheapest place to visit since prices there are stupidly high for everything things like gas and food, but the trip overall stayed reasonable because we weren’t doing the “honeymoon theme” thing and we weren’t there at the height of tourist season. Granted, this meant that we spent a lot of days getting rained on, but it does make for some hilarious pictures and videos (including the day that we got stuck in the same hail storm twice at two different locations). Getting the hell away from everyone for a week right after the wedding was the best call we ever made, I think. This was in part because I have a pretty high-stress job, and I think it would have really killed all the happy wedding buzz for me to go straight back to work right after the wedding was over. Instead, we got to wander and relax and drink wine and I got to stare at my wedding ring with a stupid look on my face for as long as I wanted :)

      • Kara E

        I want to go to Iceland! Now we have to drag a kiddo along, but I still want to go.

  • Stephanie

    I agree with the other commenters that a honeymoon is totally worth it and it’s more than just a nice vacation. But by “worth it” I don’t mean you have to spend thousands to be happy with your trip. We splurged a little bit on our honeymoon and went to Argentina for two weeks, but only because we were able to use airline miles to cover most of the ticket costs (so it wasn’t as much of a “splurge” as you’d think). Since the question specifically asked about traveling for $2,000 or less, I’d suggest using sites like cheaptickets.com and travelocity to look for great hotel/flight deals. I just recently found a deal for 7 nights at an all-inclusive beach resort in Puerto Vallarta (a super nice one we’ve been to before, too!) with all meals and booze included, roundtrip airfare (from San Francisco), and shuttle to/from airport in Mexico for less than $900 per person. Who knows if that deal is still available but there are other deals out there that might just take a few clicks to discover. Wherever you go, I hope you & your love have an amazing time celebrating the start of a new chapter in your lives together. :)

    • Stephanie

      Also – we made Argentina work for our budget by doing things like staying in an apartment from AirBnB instead of a hotel and taking the local public transportation instead of renting cars. If you approach it like you’re planning a vacation, rather than thinking “oh honeymoon, everything HAS to be the best of the best” you can still really enjoy yourself while sticking to a budget at the same time. What makes the honeymoon special is not how much you spent or how extravagant the trip was. It’s the fact that it’s time for the two of you to just BE together, without work or life or family or everyday mundane nonsense to distract from that, and to share new experiences with each other.

  • Rosie

    I think the honeymoon is a concept that the WIC really has got its claws into, with the idea that you have to go abroad and do all these amazing (expensive) things otherwise it won’t count somehow. Just like a courthouse elopement is absolutely a real wedding, any holiday or break you want can be your honeymoon! Do what you want to do with a budget you’re happy with, and don’t let anyone tell you that’s not a real honeymoon because it will be lovely :)

  • APracticalLaura

    Have you heard about TravelZoo? Sign up for their e-mails – I’ve booked some pretty stellar deals through their site for hotels I would have otherwise not been able to afford. Find something in driving distance – or in your own city and play tourists – totally worth it to get away for a few days :) You can also consider vacation rentals – especially if the place you’re going is off season. Sometimes that’s cheaper since you usually have a kitchen and can cook your own meals!

    • TeaforTwo

      Agreed! One of the great-for-this things about TravelZoo is that they often have deals on local-ish inns for a Sunday-Wednesday check-in. They’re at a huge discount because most of the clientele will be local folks taking weekend getaways, but if you get married on a Saturday and leave the next day for your honeymoon, you can get a pretty swank place for not much money.

  • Zach

    We took two honeymoons! One was 3 nights in a B&B in Central Massachusetts, about 2.5 hours from where we lived in CT. It was cute and allowed dogs so we didn’t need to find a dog-sitter. We left for that on a Wednesday after I got out of court–that was tough. I had wanted to leave in the AM and my day just kept getting longer. We didn’t get to the B&B until after dinnertime, and I felt as if I’d wasted 1 day of our honeymoon. When you are a law student getting married mid-semester, though, you take your chances!
    We then spent 4 nights at a B&B in Costa Rica in between my law school finals in January and the beginning of the next semester. Our lives were SO busy but having 5 days/4 nights with nothing to do but spend time with each other and be warm was so nice.

  • Rowany

    For us, the honeymoon didn’t just give us a breather after the wedding. Traveling together as newlyweds gave us a new sense of how to operate as a team – taking turns driving, containing our frustration while putting up tents, navigating a new place and new people, taking the time to relax when one person needs a break even if the other wants to see ALL THE THINGS. I don’t know for sure but I’d love to do a survey to confirm my guess that among couples that were already living together and ‘practically married’, having a honeymoon right after the wedding makes them more likely to say that being married is different compared to those who waited. We definitely came back home after the honeymoon feeling more united and kind to one another, whereas I have the sense that if we waited to travel it would have been too easy to fall into old routines and not taken some time to decide how we WANT marriage to change us.

  • Erica

    Anything that is more local! Not buying plane tickets will majorly decrease your budget. However, if it just -doesn’t- feel like a vacation without getting on a plane, consider something that is doable in a car but a short plane ride (LA-SF; NYC-Boston).
    Also consider camping! Not paying for a hotel is a major saver also, and if you find a remote enough campground, it can be pretty romantic to feel away from everything, just the two of you, with very few other people in sight. It is also quiet and relaxing to fish all day, make s’mores, go for a hike, or read in a hammock. Bonus points if you find a location with excellent showers!
    Do you have friends who would house swap? Or family members with a guest house? Could you house sit for someone you know leaving town? These options are less common and appealing, but a great way for you to get away from everyone/everything, drop off the grid, and even earn money. The point of your honeymoon doesn’t have to be the travel, but being able to decompress and spend time with each other.

  • Amanda

    Look at packages.

    My husband had his heart set on a stereotypical Hawaiian honeymoon. I didn’t care as much about location and just wanted to go somewhere new together. I was really freaked out by the expense, and worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy a trip that cost so much. I suggested a week long camping/cheap hotel road trip instead of the Hawaiian honeymoon he was dreaming of. But with the flight/hotel/car combo we saved more than a grand and I felt that I could enjoy Hawaii. The road trip sounded really awesome so we’re doing it on our first anniversary.

    I’ll second what others have said too, the best part was that we got time for just the two of us.

    • Emily

      Would love to know more about how you made Hawaii affordable!! We have our heart set on it too, but we’ve only just started digging around and planning. We’ll be going in October (most likely to Kauai) and I’m hoping that by staying in airbnbs we’ll be able to save some money. Where did you find your packages? When did you book them? Any penny-pinching tips for when we’re actually there? Thanks so much!

      • ElisabethJoanne

        My family used to vacation on Kauai regularly. Shop at a farmer’s market, and you’ll get a taste of the local food without having to go to restaurants. There’s a not-great but very cheap public golf course, if golf is your thing. There are free hula shows every day at the big shopping center. [forgetting all the names, sorry - but any tour book will have these tips, as will all the free brochures and magazines at the airport] There are also all your normal retailers – Safeway, K-Mart, Wal-mart, though things like food and sunscreen are more expensive there.

        Once you’re there, you could get by with only spending on food and gas. It’s not like all the major sites are museums or amusement parks with admissions fees. Where people drop big bucks on entertainment is golf and renting equipment for outdoor gear. But if you just want to lie on the beach and swim, rather than golf, kayak, etc., it’s not so expensive.

        • Emily

          Wow, the idea of a Hawaiian farmers market is extremely tantalizing while eating this boring apple in an Ohio office building….
          Thanks for the tips!

      • Amanda

        Hawaiian air had the best deal for us. We went early last October, rates were really good!

        It was cheaper than doing airbnb. We went to Oahu and stayed in Waikiki at the Aston Circle Waikiki. It was super touristy, but we didn’t care since we had a car and could get to other parts of the island.

        • Emily

          Wow, really surprised to hear that you were able to stay at a hotel for cheaper than airbnb! I hadn’t even bothered looking because I assumed it would be too expensive. Do you remember how far out you booked your flights? I’ve heard they’re cheapest 6-8 weeks out but it makes me so nervous to leave it that long…

      • Amanda

        And we kept breakfast and lunch cheap by hitting up a supermarket for the basics. We splurged on dinners if we felt like it.

  • Louise

    When we were planning our honeymoon, we decided instead of going on a big trip, we’d go somewhere close by but splurge a bit on the accommodations. I didn’t want to pack for a big trip at the same time as the wedding and we didn’t want to spend much money. Also, I’m a teacher and I had to go back to work exactly a week after the wedding. I wanted a private hot tub, a fire place or fire pit, a beach and good food. We chose a beautiful little B&B on the Oregon Coast and booked it for 3 nights.Then, literally a few days after I booked it, my in-laws offered to give us frequent flyer miles and time share so we could honeymoon in Hawaii. We were incredibly lucky and spent about $600 on our honeymoon (food, a rental car and gas). It was as stressful as I expected to pack for a trip in the midst of the wedding chaos, but it was too good to pass up.

    So, the moral of this story is: you don’t have to go far for it to feel special. I was PUMPED about my fire pit and private hot tub in Oregon. I am still looking forward to going there at some point. Just think about what would make you feel special and a little indulgent and go for it, even if just for a few days. The other moral is… people might have connections you could benefit from.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Okay, I am now asking every commenter mentioning the Pacific Northwest and honeymoons for details. WHERE WAS YOUR FIREPIT BOOKED? :)

  • MC

    Our friends in Oregon got married last summer and they spent a few night in a fire lookout in the mountains and said it was BEAUTIFUL and amazing. They were literally the only people around for miles and I think it was relatively cheap to stay there – I had never heard of people staying in fire lookouts before! Just gotta make sure there aren’t any fires of course.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Hey do you know where they went?? I’m considering camping in Washington/Oregon over a long-weekend (best we can do) as a mini honeymoon this summer…

  • vegankitchendiaries

    In an ideal world, yes you could take a week or two off right after your wedding but for us… it’s not possible. We’ll have a week off to get married (and spend time with our dearest friends who came from out of town/province/country to see us tie the knot). Aside from not having any vacation time left, we simply *won’t* have the money (“the money” = any money) for this. What we *are* doing is renting a cabin for two days immediately afterwards to spend time with our family and friends who flew in to our city. I’ve also convinced fiance that we’ll do something a fortnight later, when we’ll have a long weekend to play with, so we can spend a couple of nights in Seattle or Portland.

    I think it’s really silly to act as if not going on a honeymoon is neglecting your relationship or will lead to divorce, as someone else commented on here…

  • Sarah

    I’m probably not adding anything different but there are TONS of ways to honeymoon on the cheap and still have a memorable and wonderful time. Road trip, camping, backpacking or bicycling, going to a nearby spa/resort, doing a package at a nearby amusement park, wine tasting trip. It’s hard to say because I don’t know where you’re from. If you’re from California or the PNW I don’t see any reason to have to travel more than 100 miles to do something spectacular. Not sure what the rest of the country is like but I imagine there are gems in every state, especially if you’re willing to drive, camp, or hike.

    Keep in mind, too, that many places can be affordable once you get there whereas some places nearby might be pricey. For example, my husband and I spent around $3k on our entire 2 and a half week honeymoon in Vietnam and Cambodia. The flights cost over $2,000 but the rest of the trip was cheap because we were happy to stay in $30 backpackers hotels and eat $2 pho. Definitely one of the best trips of my life.

    On the other hand, I can think of plenty of local trips that would be super super easy and cheap to get to but that would totally break the bank (wine country and the bay area are expensive!). So keep that in mind. Maybe it’s gonna be easier to fly out of state or even out of country to have a nice week away than it would be to drive to an expensive resort.

    also remember that you will be so happily dazed the first few days after the wedding that you’re pretty much guaranteed to be happy and love whatever is going on.

  • Wrenochka

    My partner and I are planning on spending 7 days at a little summer cabin about an hour out of town. It’ll cost us about $600 total, including food and car rental (we don’t own a car, so if you own one, it’s probably a bit less), plus a fancy dinner out the night after we get back. When we were looking for a cabin site, we wanted something that was fairly quiet, but not too isolated, with access to things like hiking, wineries, kayaking, etc. If you prioritize the kind of activities and things that you enjoy doing together, and the kind of atmosphere you’d like, it’s possible to build a honeymoon that’s affordable but still special. That’s our hope, anyway. It would be great to do the old school travel-abroad kind of honeymoon, but it’s not affordable for us right now and all we really want is some cosy time to ourselves, away from work and electronics. I like the idea of hiding away in a local hotel, too, but I think it would be harder for us to turn off our home and work commitments while staying in the city.

  • Al

    You may be doing this already but I’d be looking for holidays rather than packages advertised as honeymoons. The latter will have a hefty mark-up in the same way wedding related things getting the wedding premium. It also limits your possibilities and will lead you to thinking there is a ‘proper’ way of honeymooning. As many commenters have pointed out, your honeymoon can involve any places or activities that appeal to you. It’s the time together that’ll make it special, not travel agent marketing.

  • Emily Nisbet

    I totally echo the traveling locally plan. We recently had a vacation in a different part of the state we had never been to and it was lovely to just be three hours away and explore a new place together. We’ve been picking vacation spots from 1000 places to see before you die (USA and Canada edition) and it’s been great for planning local vacation ideas, even for just a weekend. I would also add that if you are a member of AAA, they offer pretty great travel advice/deals/etc. Many places have a AAA vacations office and they offer guide books and maps and will even help you plan and book the whole thing…since it’s without commission (it’s part of the member benefits) you can avoid the travel agent side-eye.

  • Sharon M.

    it’s two months since my wedding and we still haven’t decided if/when we’re going to go on a honeymoon. There was too much planning to do for the wedding and neither of us wanted to plan a honeymoon at the same time.

  • Jecca

    We have always wanted to go to Ireland, but it’s just not in the budget now. So we plan on taking a “mini-moon” to a friend’s condo in Myrtle Beach for a few days and then spend a few days home before going back into work. I’ve read on this site time and time again how important it is to take time during your wedding day to soak it all in – it’s for that same reason that I think it’s important to go somewhere – anywhere – after the wedding. Spend time just the two of you and bask. :)

  • Rachelle

    We ended up spending about $2,000, but the majority of that money came from the wedding budget and we stayed in a super nice hotel in Napa. Anywhere you don’t have to fly will save you so much money (and you have more time to relax and enjoy when the travel isn’t as long). Find a cool place within a few hours driving distance of home or wherever you’re getting married and book a hotel, B&B or vacation rental! Even two or three nights alone with your new spouse is so worth it.

  • JSwen

    Echoing some of the previous posts, my friends had no money (married at 18, paid for the wedding THEMSELVES, SOMEHOW, I DON’T KNOW HOW) and they went on a 4-day honeymoon. They either rented a cabin or knew someone with a little cabin in a remote part of the state. No cell phone signal, TV, internet… just relaxation and each other. I know that there’s no way she would have traded those four days for a long/expensive vacation at another time.

  • Sarah

    We picked a place in the US where neither of us has family (Portland, Maine) so that we’d be able to explore somewhere we’d never go otherwise. To save money, we stayed in a hotel that provided breakfast and we bought sandwich stuff at a nearby grocery and had a picnic lunch (or dinner) each day. This way, we only ate out once a day. Plus, picnics are awesome. And eating out only once a day meant that we really enjoyed our restaurant experiences.

    We picked one tourist-y thing that we really wanted to see and spent admission fees on that, and we spend the rest of our time wandering around the city, people-watching, exploring parks, and doing other stuff that was free or very low cost. Our week-long trip was probably around 2,000 (including airfare).

  • Kendra D

    I think it’s important to remember that just like not everyone gets married the same way that not everyone goes on a honeymoon in the same way. When my husband and I married, we went to a courthouse after he had already worked 8 hours that day. We then spent the next two weeks running around and doing paperwork to get me on his military orders before we moved to Germany less than a month after getting married. No big wedding, certainly no honeymoon at the time. Thirteen months later, we went on the trip that we designated as our honeymoon and it was amazing. We had it to look forward to for a significant amount of time, it was the perfect pause in life for us to just focus on relaxing with each other. It’s actually really hard for me to read that others would consider it not a honeymoon because it didn’t take place right after our big wedding party (which, is finally being planned for our fourth anniversary later this summer).

    I guess my advice would be to do what works for you. Want to just get a hotel room in a city not near family and take a long weekend? Go for it. Want to wait six months after the wedding so that you can save up the money for the trip without saving for the wedding at the same time? Go for it. Want to plan a small getaway now on the cheap and start saving for a dream trip for your 5th (10th, 15th, 20th) anniversary? Go for it.

    And mostly, make a decision that you can live with, own, and look forward to/enjoy.

  • Ginny

    We spent 2 weeks in Europe, but it really wasn’t that expensive. We got our plane tickets for $200 in taxes by working hard over the previous year earning credit card points that could be applied to travel, stayed in just-fine but not “nice” hotels for $125ish a night, and took public transit everywhere. Some of the best parts of our trip were absolutely free, such as checking out works of art housed in churches and going to museums on a national holiday. Even Europe doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you eat cheaply you could do a week there under $2000.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Planning a honeymoon : planning a vacation :: planning a wedding : planning a party. But just like some people have never planned a party before they plan their weddings, so some people have never planned a vacation before they plan their honeymoons. So, some advice on planning a honeymoon/vacation:

    First, what is this trip/time for? What do you want to accomplish? Relaxation? Learn something new? (what? a skill? an art form? a bit of a language?) A shared experience? Just a change of scene? Once-in-a-lifetime experience? (I don’t think we should completely disregard that employers are more likely to accommodate a “honeymoon” than a “vacation.”)

    If you just want to relax, or a change of scene, a local trip, or even staying home (depending on your personality) can be perfect. If you’re craving newness, you may have to go further afield. But consider, how far from home before the way of life or landscape or weather is different? We live in the Bay Area and recently spent a long weekend in the mega-touristy city of Sacramento [ha!]. Just that couple hundred miles and the architecture and food and general vibe were very different.

  • BethinBC

    Like others I really appreciated taking the honeymoon right away. We also were really indecisive at first about what we would do but we ultimately decided on a short road trip. We drove about 3 hours on the first day and spent 3-4 nights in a nice cottage/bed&breakfast near a lake in wine country. We were so tired from the wedding that we just laid on the beach and napped. It was the most luxurious part of our honeymoon, but we still saved money by cooking at the cottage. Then we drove another 6 hours to a music festival and stayed in a hilarious dive motel for 2 nights. Finally, on the way home we camped for 3 nights. We left ourselves a few extra days at home to open gifts, do laundry and get ready to head back to the real world. It was perfect.

  • alinapaz

    We planned our honeymoon <2 months before our wedding and flew the Monday after our Saturday event (and even ran into relatives flying home at the airport!). Being in the Bay Area, many people said Hawaii was the answer, and they were right. We booked flights, a vacation cottage, a rental car and got a schmancy resort discount from a relative within a few days and .. ahh it was SO worth it. Taking time together to relax was priceless. Yes, it's a little extra cost on top of the wedding, but it pays back in sanity and terrific memories. (Swimming with sea turtles, and trying all the coffee on Kauai were ours). In hindsight, we only went a week but it made us more mindful that we could totally plan a 2-week vacation in the future :)

  • Caitlin_DD

    Book things through Kayak or Agoda. They are consistently cheaper in my experience, sometimes by a whole lot. Don’t be afraid to book a hotel well outside of the city center, and use public transportation like the subway/metro when you go out and about, It’s much cheaper.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    And some random money-saving tips from planning weekend getaways:

    1. If you’re a AAA member, booking through them is usually the best rate for car rental. You don’t provide a credit card when you book, so you can cancel and re-book if prices drop.

    2. Kayak, Expedia, etc., don’t show Southwest and some other discount airlines’ fares, so you have to go directly to airlines’ websites. They are not always cheaper.

    3. If there’s a particular marquee hotel you want to stay at, if you Google it a few times and don’t use ad-block, you’ll start getting ads for that particular hotel. Eventually, the ads will show a good discount, but still check with Expedia, etc. I’ve found the ad posted by the hotel will be for 20% off, but then Expedia will have an additional 10% off.

    And some save-stress-over-money tips:

    A. I don’t use Hotwire any more. My parents used Hotwire for a trip we went on, and the car rental place was 2 shuttle bus trips away from the airport terminal, and the hotel couldn’t guarantee a smoke-fee room. The trip was so bad, I don’t book travel with my parents any more.

    B. I happily pay extra to book with Hertz, which seems to always be closest to the airport terminal. The difference is sometimes just a few dollars, sometimes up to $10/day; sometimes Hertz is actually cheapest. For me, it’s worth it to not begin my vacation with more hurry-up-and-wait. [And, no, I totally don't work for Hertz or anything. In fact, I have family who work for Enterprise.]

  • Abby

    As many commenters have said already, I think it’s so important to do what you and your partner want, not what you think you “should” do. Pretty much everyone we know took tropical/beach honeymoons, but I knew I wanted to go to Europe (and luckily we could afford it, with some scrimping), so we’re planning a trip to England right after the wedding. We chose a location we could both be excited about, and my fiance’s dad generously used his flight points to purchase our tickets for us. But I could easily have gotten excited about a driving vacation to somewhere new in the US or Canada (we’re in the Northeast), if that’s what we could afford. I think planning a honeymoon is, in a weird way, a lot like planning a wedding: talk with your partner about what you envision your perfect trip to be, and see how you can meet a lot of those dreams with the resources available.

    The other thing–and this flies in the face of what a lot of people have said–we actually saved money and stress by working with a travel agent. Once you decide where to go, it might still be worth checking out an agent (probably a different one than the one you already spoke with!). They often have deals and agreements with hotels and tour companies that you can take advantage of. And in terms of the stress levels alone (like I said above, it’s a lot like planning a wedding), it was so wonderful to have a travel agent take care of all the details.

  • Kara E

    I’m not sure where you’re coming from, but for 2000 you can have a good trip. If you like planning, you could go to something like Kayak (see “explore”). and pick an interesting place to fly that’s cheap when you want to go. You can also look at travelzoo.com or kayak to get package deals somewhere…

    For what it’s worth, for our honeymoon, we DID use a travel planner, but one located in the country we visited. She was paid by the hotels and other companies she booked us with so it wasn’t money out of our pocket (and prices were still pretty competitive). We booked flights ourselves.

  • Chelsea

    Are there any cities not too far away from where you live now? I haven’t starting planning our honeymoon (yet!!) but my fiance and I just took a weekend getaway to Portsmouth, NH. It was a tiny little historic town that was about 5.5hrs away from us and it was absolute paradise just because we left everything else behind. The couple of days we were there was only $500 and we ate tons of delicious food. I’ll echo what everyone else has said — it’s all about you two! Getting away anywhere right after the wedding will be special no matter what you do.

  • NB

    We did a honeymoon for around that price in Denver. We got super-cheap Southwest flights, found a hotel with good reviews….and did no other planning whatsoever (this was mostly laziness, not cleverness or sensible thrift, by the way).

    But, it was awesome! We took ourselves downstairs every morning, and asked someone who worked at the hotel (or, was loitering around), what they recommended we do that day. We didn’t rent a car, so we stuck with things in walking distance. After so, so many months of planning and schedules and structure, it was kind of delightful to just wander around and be.

    Denver didn’t have any special significance to us at the time, by the way—and I felt a little self conscious about not doing something that was overtly Big and Awesome. Our criteria were (a) flights not too expensive; (b) must be able to sit by water and have drinks brought to you (this was met by a great hotel pool); and (c) must be a place that we would feel no pressure to See and Do Things in (i.e., a once in a lifetime trip to France was out, but a shorter jaunt to somewhere closer, or somewhere that the experience was the location (e.g.: beach) was in). In retrospect, what made it Big and Awesome for us was (a) going away and being incommunicado from our families and friends for a few days; (b) exploring a new town together; and (c) wonderful, indulgent, mid-afternoon naps. Added bonus: flights to Denver, from where we’re at, are cheap. So, we can go back on a whim and relive all the honeymoon burgers and pizza we ate.

    Do get away. Or stay in, but hide away: as much as I loved all our wedding people, the just-leave-us-alone-time was kind of amazing.

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      “being incommunicado from our families and friends for a few days”

      THAT IS A HUGE THING!! We laugh at the people who have to update twitter/instagram/facebook/etc about waiting to get on the plane for their honeymoon, getting pizza on their honeymoon, etc. YOU ARE ON YOUR HONEYMOON!! PUT THE PHONE DOWN!!!

      • jashshea

        Right? Getting for-real away from everyone is the best. The resort we stayed at the first few nights of our h’moon had no cell service and spotty wifi. I loved every second of it.

  • CPJ

    We went to a friend’s cottage on the beach. It’s small and cluttered and not exactly a romantic getaway, but it was still getting away to lovely scenery and a break from everything. We ate dinners out and cooked on the grill a bit, drank a lot of wine from a local winery, got massages. We relaxed on the beach on the 2 days that it was warm enough (we got married in September in New England). We spent maybe $1000, including a splurge one-day trip to a nearby island. We could have spent less, but we used a little of the money we rec’d from our wedding to do a few fun things.

    We had thought about traveling more, but like many others, we have student debt and a mortgage and paid for a big chunk of our wedding ourselves, so it just wasn’t in the financial picture. This was compounded when my husband’s cousin announced his wedding date 6 days after ours, so we didn’t want to spend 2 of those days in airports or whatnot. In the end, everything worked out.

  • light0a0candle

    Honeymoons don’t always have to be super fancy, yes, it’s a great excuse to take a once in a lifetime trip, but I think the best thing is to focus on taking time away to be together. We’re staying in the country and letting family contribute towards airfare and hotels as part of their wedding gifts. Not saying you can’t fly somewhere fun for under 2000, but a really nice road trip just the two of you peppered with picnics might be just as romantic!

  • Danielle

    Oh, there are so so many places you can go with a budget of $2000 or less! Rent a beach condo for a week in a town near by (I live in FLA, so some of these may not work for you), rent a cabin in the mountains, go to NYC for a week (its usually cheap to fly into and doesn’t have to be expensive – go to museums, eat in little hole in the wall places, visit central park,etc) go on a cruise (if you live close to a port you can find some cheap cruises off season) Consider places like Costa Rica, where US dollars are worth more. And I agree with Liz – any where you go can be awesome and meaningful. Staycations are pretty awesome, too!

  • Beth R

    I cannot advocate enough for taking your honeymoon right after the wedding. We didn’t leave until a week later, and even then I wish we had left sooner! We got married over a 3-day weekend, had our wedding on Sunday, did a brunch on Monday and I was back at work on Tuesday. It. Was. Rough. We had gotten free flights to Alaska so we ended up doing a cruise, but even if all you can do is take a 2-3 day trip somewhere, do it. While it was fun doing some adventure-y things, one of the best parts of the trip was just doing….nothing. Sleeping in and eating a lot and drinking a bit and sitting around looking at the world go by and calling each other husband and wife a lot and then giggling. Go stay at a bnb or a little cabin or a fancy hotel. I don’t think you need to put so much pressure on yourself (and your wallet) – just go somewhere together where you can get away from all things wedding related.

  • Hayley

    Ahhh, I first read this and thought, “no way, its TOTALLY still A Honeymoon if you go 6 months after the wedding!” (Says the lady who is still trying to justify putting off the “real honeymoon” til 2015 due to funds/vacation time.) But Liz is right (as usual), that the honeymoon is not about The Trip of a Lifetime but is really about newlywed highs and taking a breather – those aren’t things you can recapture months later. That said, we did 1 night at a hotel 20 minutes away and it was absolute perfection. Naps, kissing, gushing over the wedding – nothing fancy, just relaxation and some time to process everything. Also, having put off the “big trip” til 2015, I will say that I can already feel life getting in the way. There’s this expense and that event and January turns to February turns to June…makes me all the more grateful we took the 48 hours or so about a week after the wedding! It can be super laid back and cheap, but definitely give yourselves the time away, if you can, even if its just a night or two around the corner!

  • Aiyana

    Ideas: camping, “glamping” (a yurt or cabin or trailer), a motel in a tiny town near a beautiful place, a bed n breakfast. A farm-stay. No need to do anything fancy–just go somewhere quiet, away from home. Then sit, walk, talk, cuddle, eat, unwind. You can always take a fancy/expensive/long/exotic trip later.

  • http://www.kandisebrown.com/ Kandise Brown

    Well, we are taking our honeymoon in 2015 (because hello, vacation days are a finite resource. We do what we can and fuck anyone who says that our honeymoon is not a honeymoon because it has to happen 6 months after our wedding… I’m pretty surprised to read that sentiment on this site.). That said my fiancé is taking his two remaining days off directly after the wedding and we will spend one of those nights in a cabin alone at our wedding site on a lake, and the other one… who knows. At home? At a hotel? A one-day-there-and-back roadie? That will be a good time, and a quiet time, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s not our honeymoon, though, and that’s okay.

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      Your night at the cabin alone right after the wedding totally counts as a honeymoon and reading elsewhere on APW would agree.

    • snarkyteacher

      Yes! I agree. You would never read people saying ” you have it wear a white dress. Any other dress is just different. And you won’t feel the same” . We had planned for an immediate honeymoon but hell life happens and it probably won’t happen for a year after the wedding. But it will still be special. We may get one night with family after the wedding but that’s it. So what? We should wait another year to get married so we can have a proper honeymoon? Fuck that. The commentary on this article is really surprising.

  • Kelsey

    My husband and I stayed at a converted 1 room school house in Westfield NY that he found on VRBO. Well under $2000, and it would have been even less if we had had a car that was up for the drive.

  • Lian

    It makes me sad that this is the one thing that APW is consistently judgy about. Some things APW consistently encourages… but this honeymoon thing, every time it comes up, I just feel like the wonderful APW folks are standing around me yelling like trainers “YOU MUST DO THIS OR IT DOESN’T COUNT!”
    We do not have the vacation days to go away immediately after our wedding. It’s not even the money problem, we just don’t have the days left at the end of the year, what with wedding planning and other people’s weddings and a big trip we took at the beginning of this year.
    So we’re going a few months later. And to me, so far, that absolutely feels like it is going to be our honeymoon. But apparently I was wrong about that, and I need to go sit in a corner and feel bad about myself? Not the attitude I look for at APW.

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      You should not sit in a corner and APW totally isn’t telling you to.

      We got married mid-semester for me. Our right-after-the-wedding honeymoon was two nights at a great bed-and-breakfast type place and a day at the zoo. Totally counts as a honeymoon.

      Then a month and a half later after the semester ended we went to southern California for a week and went to Disneyland, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo and called that our second honeymoon.

      If APW consistently says anything about honeymoons it’s that you should take a day, even if it’s just to stay in a hotel in your own town, and decompress from the wedding. APW does not say you have to actually GO somewhere or DO something. Not going and not doing can be just as much of a honeymoon. But take the time to stand back and say, “whoa, we’re married.”

      • Lian

        Thanks for your perspective.
        We’re getting married on a Sunday. We do not have vacation days left. So we cannot take a day. Period.

        “But a honeymoon is only a honeymoon if it happens right then after the wedding.” <- this is telling me my honeymoon is not a honeymoon. I understand that the advice is from kindness, that they know that it is best to do it immediately and that they want us to know that, but in everything else they're so careful to understand circumstance or other perspectives or whatever, and with this it's just "You must do this or you are doing it wrong."

        (full disclosure: we are having a second wedding party in my home country, so we do have a trip a few weeks after the wedding, but that actually does not feel like a honeymoon to me because we will be staying with my parents, won't have time for just the two of us, etc. It still feels like part of the wedding. Also, that does not change my opinion that APW is being really judgy every time delayed honeymoons come up).

        • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

          Are you staying at a hotel the night of your wedding or going home? That night at the hotel counts as a honeymoon. Just getting out counts.

          • Lian

            Probably going home, as we’ll have to get up early for work the next day.
            But the thing is, I’m fine with that, it’s the way things are. What I DO have a problem with is APW consistently telling me that our wonderful trip a couple months later is not a honeymoon, no ifs/ands/or buts about it. I’m not used to APW being so judgy.

    • Liz

      Advice columns, at the core, are going to be an opinion (in this case, mine). That’s all. Voicing a requested opinion isn’t the same as casting judgment, and I’m not sure at what point the two started to be equated.

  • Audrey

    If you want to do something cheaper I highly recommend something close by to drive to (especially if you have a car). Personally air travel always adds extra stress so I ended up being so happy we honeymooned just about 2 hours away from home. Our wedding was Saturday and we didn’t leave until Monday (so we had time to see the family off). On Monday we could wake up and drive up pretty much whenever we wanted. So nice.

  • Ceka

    You can definitely have a great honeymoon for less than $2000! I think we spent about $3k on our honeymoon in San Francisco, which covered 2 open jaw tickets (Midwest –> San Francisco –> back to NYC), our hotel for a week (queen bed, no view, but in a great location for exploring the city), and all our spending money for food and entertainment and renting a car for a couple of days to go to Napa valley. In the meantime, we rented out our apartment in NYC, so I think our net cost was actually $2k once you accounted for our airbnb earnings.

    You could have a very similar honeymoon (1 week in a major city doing fun stuff) for $2000 by going to the major city closest to your wedding venue and skipping the air fare. Bonus: 2 more days doing fun stuff instead of getting patted down by the TSA and squishing into a narrow airplane seat. And you could rent out your apartment on Airbnb to bring down the price even further!

    Have fun! Planning a honeymoon is just planning a fun trip with your partner for right after the wedding. I think you already know how to do this. :)

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    We were under the impression that honeymoons needed to be big and fancy because that’s what everyone told us. He started looking into cruises and asked me if I’d prefer a cabin with a window or not. I noticed the cruises left from LA and asked if we took a cabin without a window could we swing by Disneyland as well? He asked if I’d enjoy just doing Disneyland. Yup. I would. A lot of people told us Disneyland didn’t count as a fancy enough honeymoon. But it was AWESOME as newlyweds. We’ll take a cruise some day. But Disneyland was a great honeymoon.

    Also, full disclosure, Disneyland happened 1.5 months after our wedding. The weekend of the wedding we stayed 2 nights at a bed-and-breakfast type place and went to the zoo. Also not the fanciest of honeymoons but we loved it.

  • Penny7b

    We take awesome but cheap vacations all the time. $2000 is definitely enough to have an awesome honeymoon. Find something relatively local, like a BnB just out of town. No matter where you live there will be some kind of local attraction that is interesting. Or, be flexible about where you go and just keep an eye on flight sales and go wherever you see an awesome deal. Camping is another great cheap but relaxing and adventurous option.

    The trick with making the most of vacations is the peak-end rule. A big part of how we experience things is actually how we remember them afterwards. And you will mostly remember one significant event from the trip plus the feeling you had at the end of it. So to get the best bang for your buck pick one thing you really want to do on the trip (one special activity or location each works well) and splurge a little on your last day. Stay in a nice hotel at the end of the trip, go out for a nice dinner or have a lazy cafe breakfast, whatever works for you. But if you focus most of your budget on those two things you can go cheap on the rest and you’ll still feel like it was an amazing trip.

    • Penny7b

      Also, AirBnB is your friend.

  • Keely Wolfram

    We had friends who honeymoon-ed in San Francisco (from Seattle), others who went camping, We went on a mini-moon in Victoria B.C.
    You didn’t say where you are located but I’m sure there are many fun / romantic / relaxing locations you can drive or reasonably fly to that wouldn’t cost a lot. Like most WIC things the honeymoon gets commercialized into some Bora Bora once in a life time thing (which is fab if you can afford it) but it’s just a vacation at the heart of it. Think of it as such and you’ll find something wonderful within your budget!

  • KGrizzle

    We got married in April 2013 and still haven’t taken what we officially call our “honeymoon,” but we did go on a week-long “glamping” trip in my in-law’s RV last July to a nearby state park (glamping because you better believe the AC in the RV was cranked up all the way). Because of the heat, we basically had the whole park to ourselves for the entire week- it was awesome! Plus, talk about cheap- the entire trip (including groceries for the week, booze, gas, park fees, etc.) came out to less than $500. We still talk about going on a bigger trip overseas for our “real” honeymoon, but even after a year of marriage, we just haven’t put much thought into it yet.

  • Meigh McPants

    We wanted to go to Paris, then looked at the price of international flights and ran away. We decided to broaden our horizons of what a honeymoon could be, and we ended up taking a 2 week road trip. It was absolutely the best vacation I’ve ever taken.

  • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com/ Basketcase

    We did a road-trip honeymoon, which did also include flights as it was in another country. But we booked well enough in advance and picked as cheap flights as possible.
    We used a lot of wotif.com to book our accommodation and stayed in motels or self-contained cabins at campgrounds in the smaller towns as much as possible, so we cooked in the room probably half the nights, and carried breakfast and lunch stuff from town to town, grocery shopping every other day. We did the odd morning or afternoon tea out, but we only bought lunch at a cafe our first day (arrived in Melbourne 9am, felt like 11am due to time change and we’d been up since equivalent of 2am). Saved us heaps of money – dinner out at a cheap pub would be $20pp min plus drinks (and thats just a main, no dessert), dinner for 2 at the supermarket was $15 including a bottle of wine and then we went to the dairy for ice cream dessert.
    2 weeks away, including international flights, rental car, petrol, activities, overnight ferry, all accommodation and food was about $2500.

  • Kara Davies

    We had a pretty easy honeymoon. A Friday-Monday at a little b&b -Three Tree Point B&B, fabulous!- a self contained b&b! The kitchen was fully stocked with a variety of goodies so we could make breakfast ourselves when we wanted to. Our wedding caterer packed up our wedding feast and we took those with us. It was divine. I’d go back again in a heartbeat and remember my swimsuit this time (there’s a hot tub outside). That was our US honeymoon. After Monday brunch was finished, we drove to the courthouse and got our license certified and registered, several copies, got my passport sorted out and packed up my old life. On our way home to Australia (where we now live) we had another long weekend in Fiji. Note, if flying to Fiji via LAX, count on your luggage being lost. We didn’t know that and arrived at 6am Fiji time with no luggage. We barely had an extra shirt and pair of undies each! Our luggage arrived 2 days later and we flew out the next day. (Not cool. No pretty lacy things to use. No shower stuff. Not cool.) Both honeymoons were good. Just about the right time away to chillax and do whatever it is you do on honeymoons. ;) ;)

  • Emily

    In planning my honeymoon I went to Google Flights, plugged in some approximate dates, and scrolled across the globe to find cheap plane tickets to countries where the dollar goes far. Out of my city (Washington DC) there were round-trip tickets to various places in the Caribbean and Central America for under $300 per person. If you are willing to do some research, you can plan an adventurous, inexpensive honeymoon somewhere like Belize or Costa Rica. To my mind, ‘research’ consists of buying a Lonely Planet, using wikitravel.com, reading backpacker blogs, and writing out an itinerary on a googledoc. If you want a cheap honeymoon that also takes zero planning, go to cheapcruises.com, filter results based on departure ports and dates, and you should be able to find a week-long cruise for two for under $1000 (excluding travel costs to get to the port). You could also plan a roadtrip, or visit a cute locale somewhere in your immediate neighborhood (wikitravel.com helps with this!).

  • http://baltimorebeginner.wordpress.com ohyeahofcourse

    This is a big part of the reason why I’m starting a travel planning company that caters primarily to a budget, then picks and chooses what to do and where to eat (my favorite part!). Great vacations and honeymoons can absolutely be had for just about any amount of money; it’s about really focusing on what you want most from your trip. Glad to know there seems to be a market for this. Best of luck, Anna! And if you’re looking for someone to do the research for you, let me know :)

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