As you probably know by now, planning the honeymoon is on your To-Do list. Each couple differs in how much the bride contributes to planning the honeymoon; some brides love to be surprised, others can’t imagine not having a say about where you go and what you do. So first things first, ask your bride how much she wants to be involved.
You’ll want to start planning early; at least four months out if you’ve got the time, longer if you’re planning for overseas. This isn’t for making plans and reservations, it’s to give you time to save up enough money to splurge. Trust me, after the stress of planning the wedding and the whirlwind of it actually happening, you’ll both be grateful for a trip to relax and spoil yourselves. Start by working out your budget;. For you excel lovers, I’ve created a Honeymoon Budget Worksheet for you to help track your expenses—including things like vaccinations, Visas and the oh-so-important baby protection (unless you’re trying to get pregnant on your honeymoon??). Decide what things are important to you both and inflate those numbers a bit—if you’re foodies, you’ll want to budget enough money to allow for eating like royalty during your honeymoon.
Next, and this should be done regardless of how much planning she wants to do, you should sit down separately and each write a list of things you’d want to do on your honeymoon. Don’t be too specific; ask yourself if you want your honeymoon to be filled with:
• Rest and relaxation?
• Culture and sightseeing?
• Action and adventure (outside of the bedroom, that is!)?
• Lounging on the beach or poolside?
• Socialization with other newlyweds, guests and locals?
• Backpacking through a foreign country?
• Spending the entire trip in bed?
Pick all things that you’d be happy doing on your honeymoon, then compare lists; this will give you a good starting point.
Once you have an idea of what you’ll do, think about where you want to go; here’s a few examples to get your planning juices flowing:
• A warm and tropical destination full of sun, water and piña coladas
• An area rich in culture that isn’t yours
• In the middle of the woods car camping, in a rustic lodge, or backpacking
• A ‘local’ destination getaway (The Four Seasons downtown, the beach town a few hours away, a family cabin)
• Atop a snowy mountain where you can ski or snowboard all day then cuddle up by a fire at night
• Wine country (Northern California or the budget-friendly Central Washington State, dubbed the New Napa)
• A city heavy with nightlife, shows and live entertainment like Vegas or Reno
• Tourist destinations like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or Yosemite
• A big city you both love or want to visit, such as New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles or Boston
See, this isn’t as hard as you thought it would be, is it? Let’s refine a little more; now think about where you want to stay (aka sleep). This is one area where you’ll definitely want to splurge more than scrimp; after all, you’ll spend more time in the hotel room on this vacation than any other trip you take together, so make the most of it! Options to consider:
• All-inclusive resort that takes care of everything for you—food, drink, entertainment, the works!
• A small cabin, resort or B&B off the beaten path
• A nice hotel where you can walk out of the lobby and be in the middle of the action and excitement
• A cruise ship cabin
• In a top-of-the-line Black Diamond tent
The next step is to hop online and research pricing; don’t be afraid to go to a travel agent for help—they’re a wealth of knowledge and help and can make planning a lot easier. Look for package deals and compare them to booking things separately; often it’s more affordable to book things in a package, but not always. Try for a ‘hacker fare’ too—fly one-way there on airline A, and one-way home with airline B. I’ve scheduled many vacations using this trick and saved a fair amount of money. And maybe you can take that money saved and upgrade to first class…? Other things to consider: Mexico is less expensive in the summer, and spring and fall are the best times for Europe if you want to avoid crowds and high-season prices.
Some practical tips and advice as you’re booking and planning:
• Book your bride’s ticket and reservations under her maiden name (unless you’re honeymooning a few months after the wedding). It’s just easier.
• Don’t be shy about telling people it’s your honeymoon when making reservations and once you’re there; you’ll often get special treatment and sometimes better deals.
• Ship your luggage one week ahead of time; you’ll avoid baggage fees and you won’t have to haul your stuff through the airport—but plan wisely for your carry-ons either way. Keep your jewelry, medication, a change of clothes, camera and a toothbrush in your carry-on, that way if luggage gets lost (either delayed in shipping or lost by the airlines), you’ll have your valuables and bare necessities with you.
• Photocopy AND scan your passports. Bring one set of copies on your trip, and carry that copy with you while the original is locked in the hotel safe. Leave a set at home with your parents or a trusted friend. And email the scanned versions to yourself and your parents/friend; that way they can be accessed from any computer with internet and email access.
• Call your bank and/or credit card company and let them know you’ll be traveling to avoid a frozen account due to ‘suspicious activity.’
• Credit cards offer the best exchange rate, but check to see if they’ll charge an ‘international fee.’ If they do, consider taking money orders or pulling cash from an ATM every few days once you’re there.
• Don’t plan for an early flight the morning after the wedding. Trust us.
• Don’t dismiss the idea of doing a few activities separate from each other. It’ll give you both some room to breathe and time to take care of yourselves, and it’ll give you something to talk about over dinner other than recapping the wedding. : )