The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Honeymoon

The traditional honeymoon is as old as marriage itself. In fact, the term first appeared in the English language in the 16th century and referred to the one month period after the wedding. Don’t know about you, but a month long vacay sounds like just the thing after planning a wedding!

The belief was that if a couple who didn’t know each other all that well spent a month together, drinking honeyed nectar in one place, it would ease the couples inhibitions towards each other.  After the one month period was complete, and just as the full moon appeared, the hope was that the emotional climate of the couple towards each other would have changed – for the better!

Although we have quite different reasons for going on a honeymoon in this century, a honeymoon is still an important custom in Western society.

Unlike the above scenario of an arranged marriage and getting to know a stranger, the modern honeymoon is much shorter and all about spending quality time with your new spouse.  It is a time to relax and take a deap breath after what might have been a whirlwind of stress. Of course, a honeymoon is also about giving yourselves permission to indulge and splurge just a little on things and activities you might not normally do on a regular holiday.

In this post we answer all the questions you might have around the most anticipated vacation you will probably ever take, and aim to help you plan the honeymoon of your dreams!

How Much Does an Average Honeymoon Cost?

Fact: The average couple will spend 3X more on their honeymoon than on a regular vacation.

Just how much does that honeymoon you’ve been daydreaming about really cost? According to the 2017 Newlywed Report, which is a comprehensive study of more than 13,000 couples conducted in 2016 released by WeddingWire, the amount is quite a bit.

The report finds that the average amount spent on honeymoon is $4,000, up from the previous year (2015) of $3,882.  It looks like after a year or more of stressful wedding planning, honeymooners are making sure to take the time to unwind and indulge.

How Much Should You Budget for a Honeymoon?

If you are looking for the answer to this question, I would suggest that you don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s.  Okay fine, the average honeymoon spend was $4000 from 16,000 random newlywed couples who responded to Weddingwire’s survey.  The reality is everyone is in a different situation, and has different priorities or incomes levels.

Wedding are expensive. Even though traditionally couples go on their honeymoon right afterwards, if it doesn’t make financial sense for you to take a trip after your wedding, you may want to think of either scaling back and going on a mini-moon, or wait all together and save up until you have enough money to plan the dream honeymoon that you envision.

We went on a mini-moon and don’t regret one second of it!

Some couples featured in real weddings on the blog, have told us that they waited up to 6 months to a year before taking time for the honeymoon.  This was due to either financial strain or they just weren’t able to get away from work.

Look at your priorities when you first start budgeting for the wedding. Perhaps a honeymoon is more important than that fancy photographer or a live band. We will discuss more budget saving tactics below.

Once you have a rough idea of the financial picture and how much spare cash you can allocate to your honeymoon budget, you can then plan a trip that actually makes sense for your situation without leaving you feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Traditionally, Who is Supposed to Plan the Honeymoon?

Traditionally, honeymoon etiquette says that the groom would plan the entire honeymoon, leaving it as complete surprise for the bride.

Although this idea is totally romantic and what movies are made of, I believe it is safe to say that most couples nowadays plan a honeymoon itinerary together.

Tip:  If you have planned the trip together, a suggestion would be to surprise her with something special during the trip.  Think of a special excursion that she wouldn’t normally sign up to do. Ideas include:

  • A hot air balloon ride (make sure she isn’t scared of heights)
  • Surprise her with show tickets
  • A couples massage
  • A piece of jewlery that she spotted while you were wondering the streets of your honeymoon destination

Whatever it may be, surprising her with a little something is a nod to tradition, and the romance factor points will go way up!

How Long is a Typical Honeymoon?

The average honeymoon lasts between 7 to 9 days, but if you want to go longer (and the budget says you can afford it) go for it!

Who Traditionally Pays For The Honeymoon?

The typical response to this question is that the groom and the groom’s family pay for the honeymoon. I can’t find the direct source of where this tradition comes from, but am guessing it was some time in the Victorian era.

In this modern day and age, every wedding situation is different and there are no set rules as to who should foot the bill.

When is the Best Time to Start Planning?

When is the right time to book your honeymoon?

We’ll be cheeky and say that the best answer besides ‘it depends,’ is usually as soon as possible.

If you have your heart set on booking a specific resort, cruise or specialized tour,  you will most certainly want to book 6 to 8 months in advance. Wait too long and you might find out that spot on that specific ship or resort has already been filled.

If you are more flexible with your honeymoon itinerary, and you both know that you want to go to a certain area during a certain time period, you will have a little more leeway. Search long enough and you might even find some good deals.

This isn’t always the case, but there can be a best time to buy if you want to find cheaper tickets before they run out.  Start searching online around 4 months before the trip, and book something in between the 1-3 months before departure time frame.

Obvioulsy it all depends on what you are booking: hotel, airfare, cruise, etcetera.

We found a good article from travel experts at the The Washington Post who outlined:

Airfares

Airline tickets can be volatile all year long, but categorically their high season for tickets starts the last week of April and continues through the last weekend in August.

  • Prices are typically at their lowest point between three and four months before a departure.
  • The price will jump 14 days before departure
  • The price will jump again 7 days before departure based on computerized pricing systems that anticipate higher demand from business travelers.

You might run across a last minute deal, as they do happen but are impossible to predict.

Tip: The best time to buy: Aug. 23, which is unofficially called National Cheap Flight Day.

Hotel Rates

Hotel prices fluctuate far less than airline tickets, and will rise when the demand increases, such as times like spring break and Thanksgiving and then fall during slow periods like January.

Cruise Tickets

The high season for cruising is summer time and right around Christmas and early January.  The best time to book is right after these periods.

The Best Places for a Summer Honeymoon

The best countries to visit during the summer months are:

June

Hawaii, USA (Alaska, Northeast), Canada, Bermuda, Brazil, Ireland, Britain, France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, Central & South Africa, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Thailand,  French Polynesia, Fiji.

July and August

USA (Alaska, Northeast), Canada, Bermuda, Brazil, Ireland, Britain, France, Czech Republic, Central & South Africa, Kenya, Madagascar, Seychelles, Malaysia, Thailand, French Polynesia, Fiji.

(Yay! Ireland made the list!)

The Best Places for a Winter Honeymoon

There are few added benefits to honeymooning in the winter months as opposed to the summer ones.  For one, it is often cheaper.

July and August resorts tend to be more packed with kids (anyone else’s romantic mood factor dropping??), and many regions are in the height of hurricane or rainy season well into September.  While I’m sure you will want to drink pina coladas and get caught in the rain — you probably don’t want to for the entire trip.

Also, planning a honeymoon right after the New Year helps fight off those mid winter blues.

The best countries to visit during winter months are:

December – February

USA & Canada (ski destinations), the Florida Keys,  Mexico, Caribbean, Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Central & South Africa, Maldives, Morocco.

Register for your Honeymoon

You should absolutely register for your honeymoon! Rather than asking for that traditional white KitchenAid mixer everyone says you need, which envariably becomes a dust collector, you can actually ask your guests to crowdfund your honeymoon.

Check out the following wedding registry sites that are geared towards funds, experiences, honeymoons, or even down payments on a house. Of course, some of these registries also offer the traditional gift giving registry route.

How to Save Money on a Honeymoon

Unless you are [insert your favorite rich celeb here] and can afford to splurge on a swanky honeymoon trip, we think you’ll agree that saving money is a good thing. Here’s a few ideas we thought of to save on your honeymoon:

  • Look for all inclusive packages or cruises where accommodation, food and entertainment is all provided.
  • Consider a Honeymoon Registry (see above).
  • Call the hotel directly to see if you can get a better rate. Yup, this one actually does work according to one of my good friend’s who is a hotel manager.
  • Splurge on a couple nights in a fancy hotel. Then check out websites like VRBO or AirB&B to save some cash by doing your own romantic cooking.
  • Sleep cheap and live large.  Choose the most basic room at the nicest hotel. Then use all the super amazing amenities just like other guests, but have money left over for nights out on the town.
  • Stay close to home and explore your own city.
  • Cash in all those rewards points you’ve been collecting over the years (Air-Miles).
  • Consider alternative airports that could end up being cheaper to fly.
  • Book early to score a deal
  • Book online
  • Look for rewards. Hotel.com rewards programs offers book 10 nights, earn 1 night free! Like a coffee or movie punch card, but for hotels.
  • Choose off-season locations for the time of year you want to honeymoon
  • Choose cheaper locales … which leads me directly into my next section: Splurge vs Steal honeymoon destination ideas.

Splurge vs Steal Honeymoons Destination Ideas

Every girl dreams of a perfect honeymoon, but only a lucky few can actually afford their dream. Weddings aren’t free, after all!

Travel expenses like the cost of luxurious hotels can take up an entire honeymoon budget. That’s why we took a look at unique and luxurious honeymoon locales in order to compare similar places that offer a much bigger bang for your buck.

You could go with the splurge, but this post is all about highlighting the steal option!

Note: Prices accurate as of time of publication in February, 2018. Please see the hotel website for accurate and up-to-date pricing information.

Romantic Honeymoon City Destinations

Everyone knows Paris is synonymous with romance and known as the city of love. Along with all of the romantic notions comes a big price tag.

Having been fortunate enough to experience travel across the 1 star to 5 star spectrum, we want to share a secret gem location that we stumbled across last year: Budapest.

Budapest has been nicknamed the Paris of the East for good reason.  There may not be an Eiffel tower there, but the city by the Danube River offers a whole host of honeymoon worthy activities such as beautiful architecture, a State Opera House that rivals Palais Garnier in Paris, wonderful (affordable) food options, beautiful art, and much more to see and do.

Bonus: it is a whole lot cheaper than Western Europe. We actually went to the glamorous State Opera House one evening and spent a total of $22 USD — for two tickets in the third row from the stage along with two glasses of wine! Granted, we got a ticket upgrade for free, but that is another story.

Splurge
Shangri-La Hotel Paris,
5-star hotel in Paris
starting at $998/night

Steal
Corinthia Hotel Budapest,
5-star hotel in Budapest
starting at $222/night

Honeymoon Mountain Destinations

One pictures the feeling of soft white sand between their toes with an ocean view for as far as the eye can see when thinking about a honeymoon. However, there is another type of honeymoon with a different kind of vista: mountains.

If you both love the great outdoors and the idea of hiking, picnics, beautiful scenery, hot springs, or adventures around every corner, a honeymoon in the mountains might just be the spot for you.

Bonus feature of a hilly retreat: The fireplace!  Cracking flames and a bottle of champagne will have the flames of seduction raging.  😀

Splurge
Gstaad Palace
5-star in Switzerland
starting at $524/night

Steal
Fairmont Banff Springs
4-star in Banff, Canada
starting at $292/night

Splurge
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
5-star in Aspen
starting at $649/night

Steal
Crystal Lodge & Suites
3.5 star in Whistler
starting at $223/night

Wine Country Honeymoon

Imagine a sun kissed day with the top down (naturally you upgraded to a honeymoon-worthy convertible) driving though the tranquil, romantic sprawling acres of grape vines.

Stop at charming tasting rooms to sample the local vino favourites and then continue on through the quaint towns to take a look at local galleries or try artisanal delights.

If you are foodies at heart, then a leisurely vineyard honeymoon with stunning views and even better wine would make an idyllic experience for two.

Splurge
L’Albereta, Relais & Chateaux
5-star in Italy
starting at $378/night

Steal
Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country
4-star in Sonoma, California
starting at $194/night

Honeymoon Ice Hotels

Honeymoons should be memorable and unique. And what is more memorable or unique than an stay at an ice hotel?

Take part in winter activities, saunas and hot tubs, perhaps catch the northern lights and then retreat back to your icy chamber and cuddle up below reindeer hides and sleeping bags. If that doesn’t create a  romantic adventure for two, I don’t know what will!

For all of the outdoor adventurous types who want a truly unique and exotic experience, consider visiting an ice hotel in either Europe or North America. 

Splurge
Ice Hotel
3.5 stars in Sweeden
starting at $492 – $991 /night

Steal
Hotel De Glace
3.5 stars in Quebec, Canada
starting at $347/night

Over-Water Bungalow Resort

I don’t know about you, but when I think of romantic honeymoon hot spots I quickly drift off to the image of crystal clear waters and “floating” bungalows.

From Fiji and the Maldives all the way to Panama and Jamaica, if you love the water and want a secluded, luxurious, romantic time for two, these gems need to be on your honeymoon destination shortlist.

Splurge
Likuliku Lagoon Resort
5-star in Fiji
starting at $782 /night

Steal
Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
3-star in Panamá
starting at $297/night

Bavarian Honeymoon

I have to be honest: When I think of romantic destinations, I can’t say Bavaria would come to mind.

That was before spending a month house sitting in Germany last year, and getting to explore Frankfurt, Heidelberg and charming towns along the Rhine River. I have had a complete change of heart.

For a honeymoon full of good comfort food — particularly sausages, sauerkraut, currywurst, schnitzel and potato salad — culture, castles, rich history, beautiful landscape, small town pubs, friendly locals and Christmas markets, you might consider a romantic Bavarian adventure as well.

Splurge
Hotel Bachmair Weissach
5-star in Germany
starting at $362 /night

Steal
Bavarian Lodge
3.5 star in Leavenworth, Washington
Approximately $147/night

Honeymoon Beach Destinations

Endless months of stressful party planning (a.k.a. “wedding”) may have you longing for peace and serenity in a tropical destination.

There is nothing quite like unwinding on a white sandy beach, surrounded by tropical warm air, shaded under a swaying palm tree, listing to the sounds of the ocean and sipping a cool slushy cocktail — don’t forget the piece of pineapple and fancy umbrella garnish!

If you just want to bask in the sun and relax on the beach, a tropical honeymoon is for you.

Splurge
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
5-star in Hawaii
starting at $949 /night

Steal
Casa de Campo Resort and Villas
5-star in Domincan Republic
from $243/night

Splurge
Soneva Fushi, Kunfunadhoo
5-star in the Maldives
starting at $1945 /night

Steal
Fairmont Southampton, Southampton
4.5 star in Bermuda
starting at $231/night

Honeymoon Ski Resorts

Honeymoon ski destination may be limited to a specific time of the year, typically November through to April, but they tend to offer a lot of activities through the whole day.

Not only can you choose to ski, snowboard, snow shoe, or cross country, you can also take in the beautiful scenery, enjoy fine food, engaged in local attractions, wander through local village shops, cozy up by a fire or take in the night life. 

For an active couple who enjoys the snow during the day and a hot tub or a fire at night, a skiing honeymoon would be a great fit!  

Splurge
Gasthof Post
5-star in Austria
starting at $459 /night

Steal
The Westin Resort & Spa
4-star in Whistler, Canada
starting at $205/night

Honeymoon Cruise Ideas

Cruising is still my number one pick!  Take Mexican all-inclusive and mesh it with a bus tour and you’ve got the best of both worlds.

Everything is done for you.

  • Freshly made bed every morning
  • Endless meals all day long (be forewarned about putting the 20 pounds back on that you shed before the wedding)
  • A new destination to explore almost every other day.

It is how I envision what it must feel like to have lived in the Downton Abbey era.

Cruising is agreat way to travel and there are often some incredible deals to be had. My dad, who has been on more cruises than anyone I know, always says, “if you can find a cruise for under $100 a day, you are doing pretty good.”

And if you think about that, I am not sure where else you would get accommodation, endless food, and entertainment for $100 per person per day.

If you are on the steal side of things, cruising is definitely the way to go.  If you have a little more room in the budget, consider a more exclusive river cruise, or go all out and charter your own private yacht!

Splurge
7 Night on Viking River Cruise
Western Europe
from $286/ per night per person 

Steal
7 Night Western Caribbean Cruise
Royal Carribean
starting at $77 /per night per person

When Should you Depart for Your Honeymoon?

At one point in time, newlyweds would leave for their honeymoon midway though the wedding reception to catch a ship or train.

However, 21st century couples often hang out a few days after the wedding, allowing time to visit with any out of town guests, tie up loose ends for wedding tasks, and simply take a moment to enjoy the whole wedding night and next morning — mom might even host a morning after brunch for you two — before starting your next adventure.

The average engagement period is 15 months.  That is a long period of time filled with hard work, blood, sweat, and tears … and money. Lot’s of money. It makes sense to want to stay for the wedding night and not just rush off on a honeymoon.

I have a girlfriend who left her wedding reception at 11 pm because she and her new spouse had to drive 3 hours to Seattle from Vancouver, to catch a 6 am flight to Hawaii.

It is really up to the couple on when they want to leave for the honeymoon. We suggest that you really enjoy a couple days afterwards as there is no need to rush.

Well, there you have it. My tips, trick and answers to planning an indulgent and highly anticipated honeymoon worthy vacay! I hope you have found them helpful.

In the midst of planning your honeymoon and need a helping hand with guides and hotel reviews? Please check out our Honeymoon Destination Travel Guide section.

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12 replies
  1. Alessio
    Alessio says:

    Well, I have not splurged in a long time due to financial constraints, but like you, my number 1 splurge was always new sheets, new comforter and some pretty things for the bedroom. Linen has always captivated my attention and I love to sew on it when I canjust not always feasible. Would love a set of these sheets to boost my spirits and my spring! Lovely job, Cami!

    Reply
  2. Robin
    Robin says:

    Hi Guys,
    Love the post on honeymoons, I wish i had seen it 2 weeks ago!!! We have been searching the web high and low for a great location to honeymoon this Aug. We settled on a beautiful place in Bali, it looks amazing, i hope its worth all the hours of searching we did to find it.
    Thanks

    Reply
  3. Susie
    Susie says:

    I love this post! Fiji would be so awesome!!! However, panama looks really similar and of course cheaper 😀

    Reply
  4. Melissa @ The Loveliest Day
    Melissa @ The Loveliest Day says:

    Love this post! It’s so fun seeing one of our honeymoon locations, Likuliku, included in your picks! Fiji is ah-mazinggggg!

    Reply
  5. Emily Heizer Photography
    Emily Heizer Photography says:

    Wow, great job you guys. This was very well researched and presented and really makes those unattainable expensive tastes and dreams totally livable. Awesome, awesome post.

    And so weird because 4 of the wedding blogs I follow all posted honeymoon posts today. ?????Bizarre, right? This post topped them all in terms of information, inspiration and affordability though!

    Reply

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