With wedding costs at an all-time high (a survey from The Knot found the average in 2016 was $35,329), it’s easy to get so wrapped up in that budget that you’re scrambling to squeeze in costs for a honeymoon. But consider this: Your wedding, while a milestone day, is just that — a day. Your honeymoon, on the other hand is, on average, at least eight days long. Some careful planning in advance will help you enjoy the trip without blowing through your budget and beyond.
HOW MUCH SHOULD IT COST?
Unfortunately for honeymoon planning, there’s no comparable adage to “the engagement ring should cost two months’ salary.” Everyone’s budgets are different and the costs depend on endless variables like the destination, the time of year and more. The best plan is to commit to how much you want to spend, and then begin to choose your destination based on that number. High-end luxury destinations (think St. Barths, the Greek Islands, etc.) are going to be more expensive than a sleepy beach town in the U.S. that doesn’t require lots of upfront travel costs.
BREAKING DOWN THE COSTS
In every category, there are ways to splurge and save — but what are the categories exactly? At a minimum, you’ll need to plan on travel to and from the destination, the hotel, three meals per day and possible extras, like tours and location-specific excursions as well as general travel for getting around your destination. Sometimes staying at an all-inclusive resort can bring the costs down. And, before you disregard a pricy hotel, check to see what’s included: Sometimes there’s a concierge floor that offers breakfasts and/or lunch, and while the rate is high, it might save you from eating out.
Now is the perfect time to cash in on all the loyalty points you might have earned on your credit cards and similar programs.
WAYS TO SAVE
If you’re planning an active honeymoon, be cautious about bringing your own sports equipment. Golf bags and surfboards translate into extra airline fees; call ahead to your hotel or local shops to consider rental options in your destination.
Also, consider delaying your honeymoon — either by a few days or even months. Leaving your reception, climbing into a car to be whisked to the airport sounds romantic, but given that most weddings take place on the weekends, you’re likely flying on the weekend too, which is more expensive. Midweek and off-season travel are likely to save you serious bucks.
Finally, now is the perfect time to cash in on all the loyalty points you might have earned on your credit cards and similar programs. Even if you don’t have what’s required for free nights or free flights, you might be able to cash in on an upgrade that would otherwise be an impossible splurge.
In the same way that friends and family can buy you kitchen appliances and china, your guests can chip in for specific portions of your trip thanks to honeymoon registries. Making it really specific, such as “one meal at Le Jules Verne” or “poolside massage,” allows your guests to pick and choose the experience they want to contribute to, and helps with your budgeting.
DON’T FORGET TO FACTOR IN PRE-HONEYMOON PREP
The easiest thing to forget in all this planning is how much you’re likely to spend just getting ready for a honeymoon. Do you need a new bathing suit? Are you going to a climate different from your own that requires appropriate clothes? How about essentials you might not have readily stocked, like sunscreen, sunglasses and guidebooks? Don’t forget to factor these “little” items, or you’ll be surprised to be spending extra even before you’ve said “I do.”