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 Knot’s 2019 Real Weddings Study, which is a comprehensive study of more than 27,000 couples that got married in 2019, the amount is quite substantial at an average of $5,000 for the honeymoon.
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 $5,000 from 27,000 random newlywed couples who responded to The Knot’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 couple’s massage
- A piece of jewlery that she spotted while you were wandering 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:
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 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.
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:
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.