A Reasonable Honeymoon

This is the fourth entry in a five part series this week on the stages of a relationship and how you can make financially sound choices throughout. Other entries include courtships;, engagements;, weddings, and marriages.

Many couples immediately follow their wedding with a honeymoon – and for good reason. A honeymoon is a great time for a newly married couple to bond and discover together what marriage means for them. At the same time, though, a honeymoon can be a huge expense that can weigh down the early years of your marriage.

My wife and I went on a very expensive honeymoon. We traveled to Great Britain, stayed a week in a hotel overlooking Hyde Park, and ate at expensive places the whole time. It was a magnificent trip, of course, but looking back on it, it was a mistake. Not only did it leave us with a giant debt to overcome, the memories we both hold from it are of each other, memories that could largely have happened anywhere.

That’s not to say a honeymoon is a mistake. Here are ten tactics for putting together a great honeymoon that won’t break you.

Ask yourself if you even want a honeymoon. For some couples, a honeymoon might not even be the right option. Perhaps both partners feel that it’s not an effective use of time, or perhaps there are other circumstances that make a honeymoon difficult (like an upcoming birth, etc.). Maybe you’re both content settling into a new home – or into a home together. Ask yourself (and your partner) whether you even want a honeymoon.

Do something that expresses what you both want – and what your relationship is about. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of a huge, over-the-top honeymoon. It sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? Yet, when I look back at the trips I’ve been on with my wife, I have more great memories from trips where we did something that we both found personal value in than I do from our honeymoon. My favorite trip of all wasn’t our honeymoon – it was a long camping trip to a national park. Why? It better reflected what we’re about than a big over-the-top trip.

Consider going local. You don’t need to go on a giant trip, either, to find a romantic getaway. There are many, many great places near where you live that are completely unexplored. Look at the states adjacent to your state – places you can easily drive to. You might just find the perfect place far closer to home (and thus far less expensive) than you would have previously thought, allowing you to enjoy a longer honeymoon and still spend far less than you planned.

Focus on time you can spend together – don’t load the trip down with social events and sightseeing. My best memories of my honeymoon revolve around simply spending unplanned time with my wife, lounging around and going on walks together. Don’t load up your honeymoon with a ton of planned activities – instead, let the time simply flow. Spend it together and enjoy each other above all else.

Focus on simple, romantic moments – a picnic in the woods, for example. My best memory from our honeymoon? My wife and I ate a picnic lunch on a hilltop. Seriously. We just looked around, enjoyed the weather, and talked to each other about anything and everything. If you want to create special moments on your honeymoon, don’t go for the ostentatious and elaborate. Go for the simple and beautiful.

Consider going camping. Camping? In a tent? On a honeymoon? Absolutely. I’m speaking from experience here. The most romantic trip I ever went on with my wife came the summer after our honeymoon. We went camping for four days, two in Olympia National Forest and two on Mount Rainier. Totally secluded, totally quiet, and wonderfully romantic. No pretensions, no plans, no pressure – and no big bill at the end.

Hit your social network for help and suggestions. You might be completely surprised as to what pops up. One of our friends wound up with a week at a cabin on a lake in the next state for free because they asked around for honeymoon ideas. Another couple I know wound up with free plane tickets, covered by a friend who gave them tons of unused frequent flyer miles for the trip. Just ask for ideas and see what bubbles up. If nothing else, you’ll get some interesting suggestions.

Plan far in advance – and keep up with it, too. Much as with wedding planning, you’re better off planning far in advance. Schedule your trip as early as you can, then regularly look around for better prices and opportunities. After all, you can always cancel reservations if you do it early enough. Doing this allows you to price compare at your leisure without the risk of losing a great opportunity.

Go native. If you’re planning on traveling to a place you’re unfamiliar with, don’t focus on the tourist-y places – or, if you do, do it only for a day or two. After that, go native. Ask locals where they enjoy eating and what they like about the area. You’ll often find yourself involved with experiences you’d never expect and great stories to tell, plus the prices are usually far cheaper once you get away from tourist-heavy areas.

When actually traveling, don’t hesitate to tell people that it’s your honeymoon. Time and time again, we got nice upgrades and other treats on our honeymoon just by mentioning it. We got a better hotel room. We got a ton of privacy on the plane (first class was full, but they moved us to seats with tons of leg room and no one nearby). We got a really nice free dessert at a restaurant. All of these things were free – they came from people who were happy to help us celebrate and make our honeymoon just a bit nicer.

Got any good, reasonable, frugal advice for people planning their honeymoons? Please leave them in the comments.

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58 thoughts on “A Reasonable Honeymoon

  1. ChristianPF says:

    Good points – I know if I asked my wife, her favorite times with me would have nothing to do with where we were or how much money we spent. She would say the best moments were the conversations and the time spent together…

  2. RT (Randifity) says:

    I absolutely agree. A similar thing happened to us. We’d never really travelled because we didn’t have the time (or the money at the same time) so we had planned to go somewhere nice for our honeymoon. We went to Jamaica and stayed at a resort.

    We had an okay time, but it wasn’t great. We charged it because he was owed some pay in which we were to get from the CEO the day before the wedding. It never showed and when we got back he was out of a job (company folded) and was out a month’s worth of pay. Immediately we both regretted the trip. If the money was there it would have paid for it, but instead we had a few $K in debt because would didn’t want to wait.

    Instead, I would rather have had a road trip or waited until the summer to go camping, which we love to do.

  3. Sara says:

    When we honeymooned we went to an all inclusive place. It was perfect for us because our trip was completely paid for up front and we could just enjoy it. The all inclusive covered all drinks, food, lodging, transportation to and from the airport, our flights, tips, and a couple of excursions to local sights. We picked a trip that was in our budget and worked with a travel agent to find the best deal at the time. Our wedding was also at a time that travel to our destination was off-season so we were able to stay longer for less money than peak season.

  4. Joanna says:

    Great point about mentioning that you’re on your honeymoon. It’s a long story & I know I’ve shared that my wedding is this Saturday, but due to circumstances, DH and I married at the JP in December. We flew to Paris that evening. (It’s not as extravagant/expensive as you think. I work for an airline & the hotel was paid w/ points.) When we checked in to the hotel, we got the usual “are you here for business or pleasure” question & the ensuing conversation included the fact that we’d married just a few hours prior. That evening, we were sent up a bottle of champagne with chocolates & berries! Not a huge big deal, but we loved it!

  5. blossomteacher says:

    If your honeymoon is going to be more…how shall I say…about physically bonding rather than spiritually bonding…it doesn’t matter where you are. My husband and I got a hotel an hour from home, left the laptops and only took 1 cell (turned off!), and shacked up for 3 days. We could have been anywhere…it didn’t matter! :) We still love that kind of vacation…go somewhere with a maid and cheap, local take-out, and don’t leave the hotel until it is time to go home!

  6. Joanna says:

    Ooh! One more thing. When traveling both DH and I love to go to grocery stores. I can’t quite explain it, but I just really enjoy seeing how other cultures shop & eat at home. In Paris we found that restaurants were absoultely delicious but tended to be expensive, even mid-level places. Grocery store food, though, (think baguettes, cheese, wine (3 euro & it was good!), bottled water, fantastic sausage, fruit and of course, Orangina) was super cheap! We had a picnic one night on the bed after walking the entire city and exhausting ourselves. It made for a fantastic memory.

    So one frugal tip even in an expensive city, try the grocery stores. YOu may find a great and delicious deal.

  7. kev says:

    My wife and I always say we went on a mini-moon.

    Basically we booked my parent’s cottage for a week. Our biggest expense was an air tour of the area in a Cesna, which dropped us off at an island fish-n-chips place for dinner. We do remember that quite fondly, although it was a little pricier than we would spend at other times.

    Otherwise it was just groceries and gas, which we would have bought anyway.

  8. Ryan K from Event Horizon Fotografie says:

    My girlfriend and I have talked a little about our honeymoon. We were either going to go hiking for four or five days or travel, but couch surf every other night.
    Both of which are pretty cheap!

  9. Kacie says:

    Don’t do what we did. We applied for a new credit card (our cards were nearing their limits) solely to use for a honeymoon.

    Granted, it was at an 0% introductory rate and we paid it off a few months later…but it could have been a disaster!

    We showed up to our hotel the first night and it was uninhabitable. We transferred to a hotel down the street and told them our story, and they sent us to the honeymoon suite for a cheap rate. Yay!

  10. Johanna says:

    I’ve never had a honeymoon (since I’ve never gotten married), but a lot of these tips seem like they’re just as applicable to vacation planning in general, and I can weigh in on that:

    It *is* possible to take a trip to a faraway destination without breaking the bank. Economy-class fares to Europe, in the off-season at least, are back to where they were 2-3 years ago, so you can ignore all the fearmongering you were hearing last year about how the era of cheap travel is over. The UK in particular is full of charming B&Bs where you can spend less than $100/night on a room that’s just as romantic and memorable as any fancy but faceless hotel. You can find the good ones on a site like tripadvisor dot com.

    And although I’ve never been there, you could also consider a destination in Asia or South America – the flights are more expensive, but once you get there, everything else is much cheaper.

  11. Maureen says:

    My dh and I didn’t go on a honeymoon. At the time we thought it was the frugal and wise thing to do. 25 years later I do have regrets that we didn’t at least go away for a long weekend. I would say get away (and take lots of photos too!)

    My dh absolutely despises camping, so that wouldn’t have worked for us.

  12. ChrisD says:

    Or for cheap holidays you can try couchsurfing (com). It’s all about meeting new people by sleeping on their couches, and you can search for a whole network of couches moving from one place to the next. The host may well show you all the sights and take you out too (may be too basic for honeymooners).

  13. Joanna says:

    Another great destination idea (similar to Johanna’s Asia/South America) is Iceland. A friend of mine read recently that tourism is extremely cheap (due to the country’s recent financial issues).

    At the moment, the exchange rate in Mexico is quite favorable to US residents as well.

    This is an area where doing your research is helpful.

    One last thing… while I generally agree with Trent re: the whole plan ahead thing, you can also get a great deal by waiting till the last minute and keeping an open mind. If you’re flexible in your destination you could have a great adventure for your honeymoon. It’s not for everyone, but for some it would be a great bonding experience.

  14. Leslie says:

    There are tons of places in the US that make for really nice getaways. You don’t have to do tropical or Overseas to have a memorable honeymoon. You don’t even really have to go all that far. DH and I went to New Orleans on our honeymoon (in 1994 – way before Katrina). We were living in Atlanta at the time so the airfare was very reasonable and we stayed in an awesome B&B in the French Quarter. We were there over Halloween which is more than a little colorful in the French Quarter. We ate fabulous food but only ate one “big” meal a day and did the others cheap. It was not a big tourist season (although halloween is apparently a big deal in the french quarter) so prices were not terribly high and it wasn’t super crowded with tourists.

  15. michael says:

    I last minute travel all the time. You can get fantastic deals if you cut out the middle man(ie, websites, agents.) I’ve called summer destinations that are otherwise booked at the last minute, and within 3-4 inns, b&bs, etc, we were able to find one with a cencellation. Depending what time you call them, you may even get a deeper discount. Call at 6pm on a Friday night, you might just get that night free if you stay til Sunday!

    Honeymoon..i’m in agreement. You don’t have to leave the room… ;-P

  16. Rob says:

    To tell you the truth, speaking only for myself, a honeymoon would be stress free. In other words, wherever we went, we would have said money allocated for it. Is a trip worth it if you have to watch every penny? Or is it worth it if you have have said money, saved enough, have a good budget, and simply be care free in a responsible manner? What I’m saying is said trip costs $5,000 dollars. Everthing. Yes including a few dumb gifts for the in-laws. So count on $7,000 for the cushion. If you saved for it, go for it. I just think it should be a stress free time.

  17. Mary says:

    “If your honeymoon is going to be more…how shall I say…about physically bonding rather than spiritually bonding…it doesn’t matter where you are.”

    Yeah until you have a yeast infection then we were glad we had this awesome cabin and there was lots of stuff to do. Considering we didn’t take a vacation for almost 4 years (well hopefully, we are going in May), I am glad we had a nice honeymoon. We had a nice luxury cabin in the smokey mountains and it was perfect.

  18. wanzman says:

    My wife and our famalies all went to Jamaica for our wedding last summer. That way the wedding was paid for and everyone got a vacation as well. We spent way less than the average wedding, and everyone else got a vacation as well.

    After the wedding my wife and I transfered to another resort nearby for a 5 day honeymoon.

    I cannot stress this enough….. JAMAICA, OUR WEDDING, AND OUR HONEYMOON WILL BE SOMETHING I REMEMBER FOREVER!!!

    The wedding was at Beaches Negril, and our honeymoon resort was Sandals Whitehouse. Sandals Whitehouse is absolutely awesome.

    Sandles is a bit more expensive than some other options, but it is top of the line.

    My wife and I plan to go back next summer (2 year anniv.).

  19. Danielle says:

    My dad gave us 2000 for our honeymoon. We used 1000 and had a wonderful one week honeymoon on Vancouver Island in Canada(we were married in Seattle so we drove there)where the exchange rate was in our favor and it wasn’t peak season(mid-may). We used the other thousand for our deposit and first months rent for our first apartment.

    We had an awesome trip. We stayed in a bungalow off of a B&B, walked to the beach at sunset, went whale watching, and mostly just enjoyed each other’s company. It was gorgeous and romantic and perfect for us. Best of all we can go there again in the future(dropping our kids off with Grandma and Grandpa on the way) and enjoy it all over again without breaking the bank.

  20. We had a very cheap honeymoon, but we absolutely enjoyed it. We went to Biloxi, MS on the beach and stayed at an inexpensive hotel for $65 a night. It had a dorm size fridge. We used it mostly for soft drinks. We spent time on the beach, played miniature golf, hit a flea market, and even hit a local casino. We spent around $500 which was money that we received from the wedding. We also won over $75 at the casino plus drinks were completely free. Of course that casino is now gone along with other great shops since Hurricane Katrina. We have some wonderful memories and it was nice just to get away as a couple starting out.

  21. liv says:

    I can agree with this one. Mostly becuase it just depends on people’s idea of travel. Go where you wanna go and if you don’t wanna go anywhere, then sweet, honeymoon at home :)

  22. Pat Brown says:

    I have to second the idea of an all-inclusive destination…we actually went to a place that had a reputation for heart shaped bathtubs and red velvet “bordello” decor, mainly because it was cheap and close and we had joked about all through college!

    Suprised no one had beaten Trent about the head and shoulders with a wet noddle for daring to suggest camping..yet.

  23. DebtGoal says:

    One of the best tips here is really zeroing on focusing on just each other rather than all of the expensive bells and whistles that come with a honeymoon. Camping in some sense can be cheap-tasteless, but what about spending a week building homes or doing social work in a tropical developing country? Not only would it save a ton of money, but it is so cool and revolutionary you would have unforgettable memories (and instant dinner party conversation) the rest of your lives.

    I’m trying to help plan a honeymoon on a shoestring so any other creative ideas?

  24. Frugal Liz says:

    My husband and I went on our honeymoon after 5 years of marraige and 2 kids! I actually got pregnant with our 3rd one on that trip.:P It was awesome, though, we left the kids with my in laws and headed to New York City for 4 days. We saw “Wicked” on broadway and ate at all kinds of little places, walked in the park and had a great time. Best of all, we paid cash for the trip.

  25. kbet says:

    Sorry Trent, love all your suggestions, but…my idea of camping is no bar service at the pool! I really do live a very thrifty, frugal lifestyle, but I absolutely hate camping! Where do you plug in your blow-dryer?

  26. michele says:

    Question about credit card debt. We have approximately 18,000 in credit card debt. We pay the minimum payments, but have been a few days late on a few cards which means they jack the rate up. I can’t get ahead on getting these paid off. We also have about 20,000 in a 401k. I am so tempted to cash it out and put what I can toward paying off our debt. I hate having the credit card debt and feel that if we got out from under it we would be able to rebuild the retirement savings. Other option is a credit counselor. Having only one payment with a set rate that we could just throw money at and get it paid off would be a huge blessing. Any suggestions?

  27. NorCalRN says:

    Just because of the other comments made- Trent: Kudos on the Camping Honeymoon! I don’t think we would do that personally for a honeymoon, just because we have never had a “real” vacation together and would like to travel…

    BUT, I grew up camping and hiking every weekend, and my fiance and I LOVE going out to the middle of nowhere, no cell service, no nothing just us, the dogs and the woods. We go fishing, off-roading, sunbathing alongside a mountain stream, hellooooo skinny dipping… Total silence except for the natural critters and the water trickling by. Talk about privacy when you have the entire forest to yourselves and you can “get to know” each other in new and exciting places! No need to spend all your time in a campsite or a tent…. Hmmm…. Maybe we’ll go this weekend! :)

  28. Jadzia says:

    I must admit I am a little envious reading about all these great honeymoons. We did not go on a honeymoon at all and I really wish we had. 5 year anniversary is coming up this summer and we STILL have never taken a vacation together. I may be taking this frugality thing too far.

  29. Charles Cohn says:

    IMHO, the best time to go on a camping trip together is before the wedding. You can learn a lot about each other that way.

  30. Tinajo says:

    With regard to the camping idea, while I’m sure it’s not for some people, my husband and I had a fantastic time honeymooning on a Greek island for 2 weeks, just wandering through beautiful scenery – most of the time completely on our own! It was wonderful :-)

    So while it definitely wouldn’t suit everyone, it’s certainly not a ridiculous idea!

  31. Frugal Gail says:

    We went camping at Acadia National Park in Maine for our honeymoon and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. The best part of an inexpensive honeymoon is that no matter what happens in the future, you can always go back there again to rekindle those feelings. I have known many other couples who wished they could go back to the place of their honeymoon to re-light the spark, but they can never afford to do it again. I think that is a little sad.

    Camping was not only romantic, it gave us a lot to laugh about and it really bonded us. There is nothing more bonding than a little shared work – like pitching a tent, starting a fire, and preparing a meal in the great outdoors.

    No regrets!!! It was an amazing honeymoon.

  32. Amanda says:

    I’m not married but a close girlfriend of mine and her husband delayed their honeymoon until they were more financially stable. Three years later they found great deals to Italy, and had a great time. So nothing wrong with delaying

  33. Leigh says:

    We just holed up in our new apartment for the two weeks after our wedding and saved the honeymoon for nine months later when we could do a budget tour of Turkey for a month. It was an amazing trip, and worth every penny. We spent my inheritance from my grandmother on it (which she wisely gave out in advance so she could watch the grandchildren enjoy it). Because we waited nine months it was more about traveling together rather than all about the hotel room.

  34. Shelly says:

    We went to Niagara on the Lake for our honeymoon. It’s a nice little town just over the Canadian border and away from the really crazy touristy stuff of Niagara Falls. We got married in January, so we were just in time for the Ice Wine festival. But because our honeymoon was during the week, the wineries were mostly quiet, so we got to take in all the cool ice wine specials without the crowds.

    We splurged a little on our hotel, but it was absolutely wonderful. Because it was during the week and during the off-season, we got a much better deal. It was a small hotel, and we’re pretty sure we were the only guests for at least one of the nights we were there.

    We did meet a group of interesting people in the hotel restaurant for one of the nights — when they heard it was our honeymoon they covered our bill!

    Overall, it was much cheaper than going on some cruise or heading where it was warm, and it was still wonderful. A little cold outside, but that’s nothing new. :)

  35. Laura says:

    We went to Paris for 9 days…and did it up. First class tickets and jr suite at a fab hotel. But we did it without breaking the bank. Tickets were ff miles (mine and mom donated the others). Hotel was 50% covered by points. We actually only paid the reg room rate because we offered to switch back to reg room after our points nights were done but they didn’t make us. By mentioning it was our honeymoon we got lots of extras. Flight attendents packed up a couple of bottles of “duty free” wine for us. Hotel sent us wine and champagne. We had one splurge dinner and a couple other nice dinners but frequently had meals from grocery stores or other inexpensive options for the other meals. Amazing breakfast was included at the hotel. By planning ahead and using points we were able to have an over the top honeymoon for probably about 25% of what it would have cost it we paid for everything. And the memories both of the trip and each other were totally worth it.

    Another option friends have done is to take a couple of days after the wedding for a quick mini-break and then plan the honeymoon for later that year or the next. This lets you recover from the expense of the wedding and save for the honeymoon. I wouldn’t recommend waiting longer than about 18-24 months though as it gets harder to do later.

  36. teaspoon says:

    @ Charles Cohn:

    Absolutely agree that camping is a great way to get to know each other. A year before my husband and I got married, we spent two months backpacking for 1000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail in California. We were together 24/7, and there were times that we absolutely hated each other for it, but it was an amazing test of the strength of our relationship. We’re planning on hiking the whole trail (2700 miles) in 2011, as our belated honeymoon. (Yeah, we’re a little crazy.)

  37. Adam @ Checkbook Diaries says:

    We went to Hawaii…but I had enough frequent flier miles through work travel to fly there and back for free. Instead of staying in pricey hotels, we rented private condos for a few days at a shot. I kept our total expenditures WAY down and allowed us much more privacy. Probably the best trip of our lives, and we very strongly considered staying there.

  38. Char says:

    Trent, just saw on Twitter that your grandma passed but I just signed up so I don’t know how to use it, just wanted to say that my thoughts are with you….peace

  39. Bavaria says:

    We had probably one of the funniest honeymoons, but we loved it! A friend let us use his cabin at Lake Chelan and after 3 days of loving and lounging, we looked at each other and said “Lets DO something”. So, my husband and I called a friend who is a commercial seed corn harvestor, he said he needed help, and that’s what we did the next 2 weeks. My husband drove one of the tractors in the field and I drove the trucks full of corn to the processing plant. On rainy days when we couldn’t harvest, we would tour the local wineries and hit the farmer’s market stands. It was great fun, and we made money!

  40. CindyC says:

    We didn’t have the funds for our dream vacation, so we went to a local romantic getaway. We splurged on accomodations and nice dinners out. We even started the tradition of buying something for our home on our anniversary. Because we didn’t spend the big bucks on plane fare or a long vacation, we could do the budget one in style. :-)

  41. kz says:

    @ DebtGoal (#19): It’s fine if camping isn’t your style, but as someone who loves camping (and spent 6 days doing so on my honeymoon), please reserve the “cheap-tasteless” judgements.

    For DH and I, it was absolutely the best call. We spent less than $300 on the entire week-long thing, including all of our gas, groceries, motel stays on the way there and back, and the campsite. But what we got in return was 6 days of heavenly solitude, romantic excursions, canoeing, hiking, hundreds of beautiful photos and a lifetime of memories.

  42. Anitra Smith says:

    I think the #1 suggestion is to not pack your honeymoon full of things to see & do. You’ll be tired, and want to kick back and relax.

    We went on a cruise for our honeymoon. Not quite “all-inclusive”, but close enough so that once we got on the boat, we didn’t have to do ANYTHING if we didn’t want to, and didn’t absolutely need to spend additional money, either. Our best “event” during the 5 days was probably when we got off in Key West and just walked around together.

  43. Kim says:

    If you want some of the benefits of camping without giving up heat/AC and running water, many national and state parks rent cabins. That’s what we did for our honeymoon. Quiet, secluded, romantic, beautiful sunrises, and a jacuzzi. There was also a small kitchen, so no big restaurant bills, just a stop at a grocery store on the way there.

  44. Jessica says:

    My husband and I will take “at-home” vacations at least once a year. We’ll take about 4 days, turn off the phones and communications and “pretend” we’re out of town. No work, no home projects, no engagements, no normal hobbies. Sometimes we just don’t even leave the house, sometimes we’ll go do “touristy” things around the area.

    Anyway it’s cheap, relaxing and no travel hassle!

  45. Mule Skinner says:

    Second the notion of camping. Did that with the second wife. We went to a barrier island just across the bridge from Morehead City NC. Nice ocean waves on the Atlantic side, and clam digging on the sound side. Dirt (sand?) cheap!

    (This may seem a bit macabre: on the way there we stopped at a funeral. A cousin had died, and the timing fit exactly, and it was exactly on the way.)

  46. SP says:

    I love camping, but for my honeymoon, I wouldn’t go camping. Unless it was backpacking to somewhere awe inspiring and had a couple days at a hotel at the end. That’s just me though. If I couldn’t afford a larger trip w/out credit, then I wouldn’t take one.

  47. Beth says:

    Like Wanzman, my husband and I did a destination wedding as well. Instead of spending 5k-25k on our wedding, we hopped a plane with 24 of our closest friends and family and got married at sunset on the shores of Aruba. We didn’t need table linen, fancy centerpieces, tuxes or fancy bouquets. When the ocean is your backdrop and you are eating wonderful food on the beach at the reception listening to a steel pan band…..you don’t need to spend too much money. We invited all 300 on our guest list and it was up to them if they could make it. We told everyone 2 years in advance so everyone would have enough time to save money and get passports. I can’t even explain how memorable our wedding and honeymoon was. We shared 5 days before the wedding with everyone and two days after. Once they all left the island my husband and I had 5 more days to have our honeymoon. We stayed in the best hotel, ate the best food and didn’t have to buy any souvineers because everyone we would have bought for was already there. We took our we would have spent on the wedding and threw it against a perfect beachside wedding, 1wk vacation w/ our friends and fam, and 5 day honeymoon all in Aruba. We even had money left over so we invited everyone who couldnt make it to the wedding over for a pig roast the weekend we got back. No fuss, jeans and t-shirts and paper plates. Its the people that count and the time you spend with them!

  48. Sharon says:

    Going to third world countries and volunteering sounds very romantic, but be aware that the health care there is not what we are used to, the water is very possibly not safe to drink or even brush your teeth with and the chances of coming home with a nasty infection souvenir that may or may not be properly diagnosed and treated once you get home are significant.

    For extra credit, diagram the above sentence!

  49. Tim says:

    My wife and I went camping on our honeymoon, after borrowing the car from her mother. We stayed in a bed & breakfast the first and last night of the trip, and spent the week roadtripping around the general area, seeing the little sights that we wanted to see.

    It worked for us!

  50. J says:

    LOL @ couch-surfing …. well, on my honeymoon I had good reasons for wanting some privacy with my new wife.

    I’ve also done a lot of camping in my life, and sometimes you “win” and have a great experience, and other times it rains and the bikers in the site next to you keep you up late, and wake you up with Harleys at dawn. Or the two year old wakes up at down and cries in the site next to yours. I’d caution the frugal to know the campsite you are visiting well BEFORE you show up to celebrate your nuptials — and underline the point that your new spouse needs to be as much into it as you are.

    Overall, though, I would encourage people to have a good time on their honeymoon and do what they like to do — and then pay CASH for it :)

  51. J says:

    Trent — I think the word “mistake” alone is borderline insulting to your marriage. Perhaps using a modifier such as “financial” in front of it would more clearly make your point:

    It was a magnificent trip, of course, but looking back on it, it was a financial mistake.

    It would eliminate the need for the modifier later.

  52. Good post.

    My wife and I didn’t take a honeymoon– I was laid off from my job a week after we were married . . .

    We plan on an anniversary honeymoon in the future, but we get mini-honeymoons every other weekend when our four kids are with their other parents . . . divorce does have one silver lining.

  53. tightwadfan says:

    If there is someplace you want to go within driving distance of your home I can definitely recommend driving to your honeymoon. We went to Savannah, about 5 hours from home, and being able to drive eliminates sooo much stress from the honeymoon – no strict time deadlines, you can pack whatever you want and no worries about lost luggage, no standing in huge lines at passport control or check in, way more comfortable seating.

    If you’re into food I would recommend treating yourself to one fabulous meal. We ate at one really fancy restaurant on our trip, the bill came to $200 (we got a bottle of champagne), but the food was fabulous and the waiters treated us like a king and queen. We STILL talk about that meal, it was so special.

    Definitely mention you’re on your honeymoon, especially if you’re someplace known for good hospitality like the South!

  54. EngineerMom says:

    My husband and I wanted our honeymoon to be as relaxed as possible. On that note, we chose a resort in northern Minnesota on Lake Superior (we live in the Twin Cities). We wanted to stay somewhere that we could return to later, so if there was an activity we wanted to do, we could choose to do it, rather than feeling like “we have to do this, we’ll never be back here”.

    All told, a week away, eating lunches and dinners out (we brought breakfast items to cook at the townhouse we rented), cost $2300, $2000 of which was a gift from my parents.

  55. Bill in Houston says:

    My wife and I had a cost-effective wedding and reception (less than $3000 for 100 people including food, liquor, entertainment, decorations, and site for the reception, and the church was only a few deposits and the rector’s fee). As a result we decided to have a fun honeymoon. I’m sure I’ll catch hell for this but we spent a week at an all-inclusive resort on the Mayan Riviera. We rented a car for a day and saw two major archeological sites (Chichen Itza and Coba). We rented a taxi for a half day and saw Tulum. Price, including car rental and souvenirs, 7 days at an all-inclusive, and airfare was $2900. We paid cash, and we paid in advance. We also paid for our wedding and reception in cash. We had raves about the reception and the 1001 Arabian Nights theme (my wife is a bellydancer) No bills when all was said and done because we paid as we went.

    We’re going back to the same resort for our third anniversary this June. Only five days this time, and under $2000 (airfares and hotels have gotten more competitive). The only thing that went up was the car rental (to $60).

  56. Bill in Houston says:

    Thinking about it, I had friends who camped on their honeymoon. They were poor college students at the time and couldn’t afford much, so they spent four days in a state park in East Texas. They said the only downside was the third day, when it rained and they ate cold food out of cans. Can’t complain with that, especially if you’re with the one you love. They’ve been married for 18 years now.

  57. Angela says:

    While a couple days old, I’m just getting to reading this post, but I must say is timely since my husband and I just got an invitation to a wedding with an extra slip of paper inside regarding their registry. Their registry is through http://www.honeyfund.com – basically, thru paypal you (the invited guest) can give the happy couple any part of their honeymoon that you can afford. The prices ranged from $25 to $100 (maybe more, I cannot actually remember the upper end).

    Whatever happened to giving the couple a gift, even if it is cash/check?? I don’t know this couple that well – but in their picture it doesn’t appear to me that they are an established couple with a set of dishes, toaster, blender, etc. If this dream honeymoon is really their dream, save for it instead of asking your friends and your parents’ friends for it. Trust me – it will mean more – that first vacation my husband and I took with money we had save for that purpose is still one of the best vacations we have taken! We’ve been married 15 1/2 years.

  58. thribble says:

    I have only one tip for honeymoons. Keep it simple. Everyone I know who has got married, including ourselves, has been exhausted for the first 3-7 days, so people who have planned to go from city to city around Europe (for example) find it all just too hard. We did spend some money and went to Cuba all inclusive – it worked out reasonably priced, easy to calculate the cost of, and most of all, no pressure at all!

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