If you google “wedding planning” or walk into a bookstore, you’ll find ample resources on how to plan a wedding. There are resources for small weddings, big weddings, destination weddings, theme weddings—you name it, someone has probably written about it. (Some of the information is better/less sexist than others, but you know… it’s there.) When I was planning my own wedding, I was thankful that there was so much information available. When I needed help setting an initial budget, or finding vendors, or getting ideas for decor, I could do my research and find some information that helped.
What wasn’t available was information on planning our honeymoon… particularly planning our honeymoon on a budget. Most of the information that I could find generally involved glossy lists of top ten destinations or advertisements for specific resorts. Sure, it’s nice to have ideas on where to go, but I was looking for more information. Should we take our honeymoon right after the wedding or later? How do we get the best deal? How do we even figure out what type of honeymoon we want? And how the hell do we pay for a big trip while we’re also paying for our wedding? We really had no clue, so we had to just wing it.
I’m a mega researcher, so I spent weeks looking at every resort in the Caribbean, Central America, and Hawaii, comparing prices and reading reviews. We knew that we wanted to take a trip right after our wedding, but deals are few and far between during Spring Break season. After a lot of conversation and reviews from friends, we decided to do a mini-moon right after our wedding and a longer trip a few months after our wedding. A random browsing of LivingSocial led us to a fantastic deal on a New Orleans B&B for our mini-moon, where we spent three days immediately after our wedding. After much research, a colleague’s rave reviews for Sandals in St. Lucia led us to book a week at Sandals Halcyon Beach. Looking back, we absolutely made the right honeymoon choices for us—we got a chance to relax after the wedding, found some great deals, and had a great time on both trips. But the stress of planning took some of the joy out of it.
A few months ago, we hosted an open thread where we discussed all things honeymoon related. I learned a ton in the thread and I thought, “This is the thread I wish I’d had when I was planning our honeymoons.” So APW readers, I’m going to do you all a solid and share with you some of the best tips from the thread if you’re planning your honeymoon on, you know, a reasonable budget—AKA you are not made of money.
Six Ways To Plan A Honeymoon On A Budget
Factor Your Honeymoon into Your Overall Wedding Budget
My husband and I paid for 90 percent of our wedding ourselves, and 100 percent of our honeymoons. We did great with our wedding budget—we actually went under-budget (yay!)—and some of that saved money did go toward honeymoons. However, I wish we’d thought about the costs all together instead of thinking of them as separate. One reader smartly noted that including your honeymoon budget in your overall wedding budget, you can make more informed decisions about how you spend money:
I can spend this $4,000 on the honeymoon, or I can spend it on a full bar (rather than wine and beer). You can almost always make decisions that reduce the price of the wedding and redirect that money to something else.
Like, you know, a day at a luxe beach.
Use Miles or Points to Defray Costs
We had enough points for our round-trip airfare to New Orleans for our mini-moon, which was great. But if you want to maximize your miles, consider using a rewards credit card to make wedding purchases. One reader said that they used this technique with great success:
The credit card had a minimum spend of $5,000 to earn 50,000 points, but we had $5,000 of planned, budgeted expenses, so we used the credit card to put wedding expenses on, and then paid it off every month. We used the points for our flights, which was awesome and made it possible to have a nicer honeymoon.
William and I got married in March, which is guaranteed to be a chilly month in Minnesota, so honeymooning in a warmer location was a requirement for us. March is also prime Spring Break season, and prices for the locations we were interested in were astronomical. We shifted our honeymoon to the end of May and were able to save hundreds of dollars compared to if we’d traveled in March. If you don’t want to delay your honeymoon, consider destinations that are off-season to maximize your savings.
Try Deal Sites and Hotel Alternatives
I love a good deal, especially when it comes to travel. Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial feature lots of great deals on hotels, B&Bs, and resorts. We found an excellent deal for a beautiful New Orleans B&B and wound up saving 50 percent off their published rates. Sites like Airbnb or VRBO can also be cheaper alternatives than staying in a hotel or a resort, and while that may seem obvious, lots of people forget you can Airbnb your honeymoon. Reader Hannah noted that she “snagged a Groupon for a tiny lodge in Costa Rica.” She said, “I had enough airline miles to get us to Central America and Groupon seemed like a pretty low-stress and economical way to throw an awesome trip together.”
Get Trip Insurance
I was not a trip insurance person until last year, when my mother-in-law had a heart attack the day before we left for a week in Dubai. Talk about a wake-up call. Thankfully she was well enough for us to take our trip and visit her afterward, but we did consider canceling our trip. Had we done so, we would have lost over a thousand dollars, which would have really hurt. If you’re putting a lot of effort and money into your honeymoon, it makes sense to spend a little bit more and insure it. Make sure you shop around and understand what coverage you’re buying and that it meets your needs. (AKA, read the fine print on these things.) Also consider getting insurance that covers you if you get hurt or sick during the trip. One reader recounted her story of using travel insurance on her honeymoon to Italy:
Our recent trip to Italy… turned out terribly when my husband ended up in the hospital for five days for what started as probably food poisoning and ended up as sepsis. I had gotten trip insurance for the first time ever, and it was so helpful—both in the moment in terms of reducing the stress of the ordeal to some degree, as well as meaning we paid nothing out of pocket for changing our flights, and we expect to get another few thousand back for extra hotel costs and all the medical costs, once our claims are processed.
Consider Alternatives to the “Huge Trip”
A lot of people have the idea that a honeymoon has to be a huge, once in a lifetime trip with your spouse. Maybe you aren’t interested in that, or maybe you don’t have the budget—and that’s okay! Forget what society expects and do what you and your partner want to do for your honeymoon. Maybe that means taking a smaller trip, or a road trip, or going camping. Maybe you do a mini-moon and then the huge trip months later. Or maybe your “trip” is a staycation in your town, complete with a hotel stay and visiting all the tourist sites. Collaborate with your partner on your shared vision for your honeymoon, and go for the type of trip that will satisfy you both.
Reader Alanna shared that she and are husband and doing a staycation, which sounds spot-on:
For our honeymoon we’re doing a hotel vacation in our own city (Toronto!). We’re going to do all the touristy things (CN tower, aquarium, Aga Khan Museum, shopping), and eat at fancy restaurants. Maybe we’ll have a spa day.
Reader Meg and her husband went a different route, visiting Las Vegas for a convention:
We ended up doing the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas for our honeymoon. It was something we both loved, and due to his fiancé visa he couldn’t leave the country yet, so we had to stay domestic. It was great because we got to bond over something we both adore, but we were experiencing a conference together for the first time.
APW readers, what other tips do you have? What do you wish you had known when planning your honeymoon?