While I don’t like to think of life as a series of milestones, one thing seems certain: the further I get into my twenties, the more weddings I attend.
Last year alone, I received invitations to seven weddings, all of which involved flying
to different parts of the country. Although coordinating travel to and from these celebrations took plenty of planning
my part, I couldn’t help but wonder how my newly married friends were faring. After all, throwing a wedding is no small feat, but planning an unforgettable honeymoon on top of it? That requires some serious logistical wizardry.
than any other kind of vacation, honeymoon travel comes with a broad set of expectations — many of which are bolstered by TLC wedding specials and well-meaning advice. In addition to the usual travel to-dos, like booking hotels and choosing
, newlyweds have the added pressure
of planning the “trip of a lifetime.”
Over the holidays, I reached out to several of my newly married friends to see how they planned their honeymoon travels. While their styles, budgets, and interests vary, they agreed on one
key point: the best honeymoon is one where you can simply relax and celebrate with your new spouse. Here’s how three different newlyweds planned their travels accordingly:
Q: How did you decide on your honeymoon destination?
Savanna: Our honeymoon destination was French Polynesia (Tahiti/Moorea/Bora Bora). My husband and I both agreed Bora Bora was where we wanted to go early on, for a few different reasons. We knew
we wanted a tropical destination with overwater bungalows, but we didn't want any more than an 8-hour international flight. French Polynesia checked all those boxes, and beyond that, it seemed like a very romantic location. We actually found a package
on Costco Travel that made planning the honeymoon so much easier (the package included hotels, flights, transportation, and some food).
Liz: With us both being PhD students, the stress of planning and paying for a wedding was enough on
its own without planning a big honeymoon as well. We decided to book an Airbnb in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a few days after the wedding, because we knew we would want to relax and get some sun. We've been married for about 8 months now, and
we are currently planning a more traditional honeymoon (or you could just call it our big vacation for the year) to Hawaii over the summer.
Tyler: We split our honeymoon between two places, Switzerland and Rome. My wife had visited Switzerland
during high school as part of a music scholarship, and being in Switzerland's mountains was an incredibly emotional experience for her. Returning to such a special place with her new husband made for a remarkable trip. We also chose Rome because I’ve
been fascinated with history since I was young. Being able to explore such an ancient city with my wife was incredible, and it felt so romantic to be in the eternal city with our eternal love.
Q: What did you choose to prioritize when planning your honeymoon?
Savanna: We really just wanted somewhere where we could just relax and do nothing for a week.
Liz: With the trip to the Outer Banks, we prioritized relaxation and affordability.
I grew up going to the Outer Banks, so I knew there wouldn’t be much to do other than go to the beach and eat delicious seafood: and that was exactly what we wanted! For our upcoming Hawaii trip, we'll have more planning to do (I have GOT to see
a volcano), but we haven't really started yet.
Tyler: For each destination, we focused on the big things that made us the most excited and used those as a roadmap. Once we knew the high points we wanted to hit, we filled in smaller details
– like dining and shopping – in between.
Q: How did you strike a balance between budgeting for your honeymoon versus other wedding expenses?
Savanna: I kept an Excel file with about 15 different tabs! One of those was a budget that got updated weekly (if not daily) with expenses and estimates.
This helped me stay on budget while also tracking what I had already paid or put deposits on. Although we had a large wedding budget, we tried to stick with a set amount for the honeymoon so that it didn't get out of hand (for example, we decided NOT
to go skydiving because it was crazy expensive).
Liz: Our wedding budget feels very separate from our honeymoon budget. We hardcore budgeted for the wedding, which was the priority. The trip to the Outer Banks was a minimal expense –
we drove there, and since it was right before peak tourist season, our Airbnb was a steal. Since we did the wedding affordably, and have had time to save up money and airline miles, we're starting to budget in earnest for the Hawaii trip.
We were incredibly lucky in that my dad travels a lot for work. This let him use accumulated points for our flights and hotel stays, meaning we only had to budget for the day-to-day expenses on our honeymoon. That let us put most of our money into the
wedding day itself. Without that generous gift, we never could have taken an international honeymoon, and we were so lucky to have been able to!
Q: What advice do you have for couples who might feel overwhelmed by the planning process?
Savanna: Start planning as early as possible, even if it's intimidating. You should discuss your budget with your future spouse right when you start planning
so that you know how much leeway you have when searching for packages and destinations. Also, make sure that you research how much everything will actually cost when you arrive. For example, Bora Bora has a crazy import tax, and alcohol was $24 for a
beer, $26 for a mixed drink, and $33 for a mimosa ... something we were NOT expecting to spend as much money on as we did!
Liz: It’s okay to do something that involves minimal planning, or to wait for a while to honeymoon! If you can’t
handle planning a big trip in tandem with the wedding, it's not worth stressing yourself out unnecessarily or compromising the “cool” vacation that you want. Remember that the point of a honeymoon is to enjoy the company of your new spouse.
All other details are peripheral.
Tyler: When we were actually on the honeymoon, it was helpful to break down our total budget by how many days we were gone. It was comforting to know how much we could spend on a day-to-day basis, rather than
worrying about accidentally going over-budget. But above all, I would recommend letting yourself get caught up in the moment. Sometimes the plans we had didn't go as expected, and that worked out for the best. One of the most memorable parts of the entire
trip happened because, at the last minute, we decided to ignore the itinerary and do what felt right.
About the Author
Grace Lower has a love for all things writing and travel. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.