Are there wedding bells in your near future? If you’re engaged and reading this article, you likely have a lot of questions on your mind.
How can I plan an unforgettable wedding? Should we go on a honeymoon right away? Where will we live once we’re married? Should we combine our finances?
Thinking about all of these questions can begin to feel overwhelming. The idea of going on an extravagant honeymoon may feel like a well-deserved reward for getting through this stressful period.
But before you pull out a credit card and begin booking first-class flights and a 5-star hotel in Tahiti, take a deep breath and close your eyes to imagine your life upon return. Does a credit card bill that could take years to pay off sound appealing? While your tropical tan will fade in just a few weeks, your family finances could be devastated for years and prevent you from living the lifestyle you desire.
Fortunately, there are many people who have walked in your shoes with real-life experiences and professional insights to help you plan a honeymoon you’ll remember forever, without breaking the bank.
We asked financial experts and online educators to share their honeymoon budget tips so you can spend less time worrying about how to pay, and more time thinking about how you’ll play (while keeping enough money in the bank for a rainy day).
Start a Honeyfund
A great way to save on your honeymoon is to add a Honeymoon Registry to your list of gift options for your guests. If you’re a couple who prioritizes experiences over stuff, having your guests contribute to your dream honeymoon trip is a no-brainer. Sites like Honeyfund allow guests to contribute cash funds for you to use on your post-wedding trip. They can chip in on anything from hotels to flights, and even contribute towards specific activities or excursions!
Jessica Bishop | The Budget Savvy Bride
Avoid Going into Debt to Pay for Your Honeymoon
Planning for a honeymoon should be considered an early financial fire drill for newlyweds. Much can be learned about the health of your communications around money and your mutual willingness to delay gratification if needed.
There is no scenario where debt should be incurred in planning a honeymoon. Having a functional household budget and a healthy emergency fund will feel softer than the pillows at any resort.
Russ Kefauver, AWMA, CRPC | Kefauver Financial Planning
Prepare a Honeymoon Travel Budget
Even a trip as special as a honeymoon can be stressful if you’re on a limited budget. Worrying about money is the last thing you should be doing while celebrating with your new spouse.
Before you book your trip, brainstorm what costs you will incur and estimate the amounts. Put all of the information together to create a travel budget that will act as a roadmap to guide you through the process of planning and saving for your honeymoon.
Taking some extra time to prepare a travel budget will ensure you can focus on enjoying your honeymoon instead of feeling overwhelmed about how much it will cost.
Kristin Stones | Cents and Purpose
Pack a Smart Carry-On Bag
Pack a carry-on with your essentials just in case your luggage is lost. Throw in a pair of sandals, bathing suit, toothbrush, a dress, and a nighty for your first honeymoon night, and anything else that will lessen the worry of what to do if your luggage is lost or delayed a few days.
Victoria | Motherhood Life Balance
Use Points and Miles
Planning a wedding and a honeymoon can make you stressed out due to some costs involved. People want to go on fun and exotic adventures, but you know that the money must come from somewhere when you go. If you are into travel hacking, you can reduce the honeymoon cost. One way is to collect points and miles by putting all of your wedding expenses on new travel rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Capital One Venture X card. Then you can use those miles and points you have accumulated to pay for your trip.
Steve Cummings | The Frugal Expat
Get Travel Insurance
Most plan to save money on travel, food, and lodging during honeymoon arrangements but often fail to protect their plan with good travel insurance. It costs only a fraction of the total trip value and safeguards against uncertainties like trip cancellation or interruption, delays, and medical expenses. Your current credit card may already have some of these benefits. If it doesn’t, the best honeymoon travel hack is to find one with all these travel benefits and a massive signup bonus.
Ram Chakradhar | Dollar for Cent
Use Google Flights
Choosing a destination is perhaps the toughest decision you’ll make when planning your honeymoon. And with inflation currently wreaking havoc on the travel industry, the cost of airfare can be a major destination deciding factor.
One honeymoon travel hack most people don’t know about is Google Flights – Explore. Input your departure destination, a time frame, and your max price, and the Explore map will show you what it will cost to fly into major airports around the world. From there, you can apply filters to further drill down into your dream honeymoon destination.
Alexandrea Sumuel | Wander with Alex
Honeymoon Closer to Home
Consider staying closer to home to help with flight costs. We have beautiful beaches and fun cities to explore right here in the US! We provide Abundo Wealth clients with travel tips, in addition to affordance financial planning. For example, the dollar is very strong right now, so consider taking advantage of that by traveling to a country such as Argentina.
Eric Simonson, CFP, CRPC, CLTC | Abundo Wealth
Honeymoon in the Off-Season
Go during a destination’s “off-season”. This can help in many ways. For starters, there will be fewer people there, so you’ll be able to do less waiting in line and get more bang for your buck depending on where you go. It will also mean everything will likely be cheaper. Hotel rooms, rental cars, and even airfare can all be less expensive when it’s not a location’s busy season.
Jeff Cooper | Have Your Dollars Make Sense
Timing is Everything
It’s important to understand how to save money on your honeymoon. Some easy tips are to buy airfare at the time of year when it’s most affordable. Kayak.com has some great tools that help you to strategize on how to lower the cost of airfare including price tracking software that can alert you when it’s least expensive.
If you can work remotely, oftentimes flying out on a Tuesday and returning on a Tuesday or a Thursday not only helps you to avoid TSA wait times but also can save you hundreds on airfare.
Bonus tip: Oftentimes renting your home out on Airbnb during your honeymoon can earn you almost as much as the hotel costs you (especially if you have a large home and the hotel is small).
Blaine Thiederman, MBA, CFP | Progress Wealth Management
Use Credit Card Rewards
If your heart is set on an iconic honeymoon destination, plan ahead and leverage credit card rewards to pay for your trip. You can use your rewards card to pay for your wedding and reap the sweet rewards when booking your honeymoon travel.
Don’t let the easy access to credit blow your budget though. Stick with your spending plan and pay off the credit card at the end of each month. Weddings are expensive, but you can leverage that cost to help you pay for the perfect honeymoon!
Melanie Allen | Partners in Fire
Tell Everyone You’re On Your Honeymoon
Don’t be shy; tell people you’re on your honeymoon! Tell everyone – when you’re boarding your flights, checking into your hotel, arriving at dinner or activities, and so on. People love to celebrate newlyweds. Often, they will do so with complimentary champagne, desserts, seat upgrades, and more. It’s your special trip, so let others know and give them the chance to celebrate with you!
Sam | Smarter and Harder
Trade the Candlelight Dinners for Lunch
A honeymoon might call to mind images of romantic candlelight dinners with your new spouse. If you’re looking for luxury for less, try lunch instead.
Steal a favorite budget travel tip and head to a nice restaurant for lunch. Many restaurants have prix-fixe lunch menus or lunch specials designed to get customers in the door before the dinner rush. You’ll save big on the same food they serve for dinner or be able to eat at restaurants you might otherwise not have the budget for.
Take the money you save on eating out and put it towards another special experience for your honeymoon.
Carley | Home to Havana
Hire a Wedding Planner to Cut Costs and Plan a Mini-Moon
Utilizing a wedding planner can potentially decrease the overall costs of your wedding to free up more money for your honeymoon and provide a sense of financial peace. A planner will work to keep you within your budget and anticipate costs you may be unaware of or have not planned for. They often have preferred vendors they may connect you with at a discount or be aware of venues and options that are more budget-friendly.
Non-traditional wedding reception venues or catering options may reduce costs. My husband and I catered our wedding with food trucks. It created a memorable experience for our guests at 1/2 the cost of a traditional caterer.
A mini-moon is a short excursion, closer to home that allows for post-wedding decompression without the costs and planning time of a traditional honeymoon. Planning a larger vacation can add additional stress during an already busy and stressful time. Additionally, many couples contribute financially to their own weddings and it can be helpful to delay the spend on a major vacation.
Emily Rassam, CFP, CRPS, AIFA, NSSA, Senior Financial Planner | Archer Investment Management
Honeymoon During Shoulder Season
Are you planning your honeymoon and looking for ways to save money? Then, consider visiting that epic destination during the shoulder season, even if it means waiting to go on your honeymoon. The shoulder season is the time of year between the high and low seasons for a particular location. As a result, prices are lower than during peak season, but you’ll still get to enjoy all the great things a destination has to offer. More than likely, you’ll also beat the crowds and have an opportunity to experience beautiful places all to yourself. For example, visiting Maui, a popular honeymoon destination during shoulder seasons, means you’ll experience fewer crowds, get discounts on tourist attractions, and find cheaper accommodations and airfare.
Ashlee Fechino | The Happiness Function
Surprise Your Spouse with a Small Gift
Your Honeymoon is all about taking time off, enjoying each other, and exploring new destinations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a little bit of home with you! A small romantic gift for your spouse can make the Honeymoon experience even more memorable. Besides, it’s always nice to surprise your other half with a unique gift when they least expect it. It can be a thoughtful and romantic gesture that will last longer than the Honeymoon itself.
Nadia | OnPoint
Skip the Hotel and Find an Airbnb Rental
The key to having a great honeymoon and not breaking the bank is maximizing the value of your money. Pass on the honeymoon suite at a hotel and grab an Airbnb or VRBO to give yourself that suite experience for less money.
Hotels are still very kind when you mention it is your honeymoon and will throw in a bottle of champion or upgrade your room for the night. Just be aware the more popular a honeymoon destination you choose the less you will be rewarded and may end up paying even more than you bargained for.
I find that newlyweds get more with their money when choosing from a house-sharing network. You can find as beautiful of a place to stay and for a better price. With the extra money, you can buy a couple of bouquets of flowers for the place to make it feel extra special, take an excursion, or just keep the money in your pocket for your first home.
Don’t let money become a pain point in your relationship start building healthy communication habits early on.
Nathan Mueller, MBA | BlackBird Finance
Balance Free and Paid Activities
When you’re going on your honeymoon, know where your priorities lie. While it’s amazing to stay at a luxury hotel and fly first class, is that really what you want if money is tight? Know where you want to save money and when you want to spend it.
For example, you want to go to Hawaii. You can decide to stay in an Airbnb on some islands and do free things, like hiking and going to the beach. You can stay in a resort at the last destination and do fun activities. A balanced approach is perfect for getting the most out of your honeymoon!
Marjolein Dilven | Radical Fire
Enjoy the Free Breakfast
One of our favorite travel hacks is to ensure our hotel offers complimentary breakfast. While it can be tempting to lay in bed all day with your new spouse, starting your day with your newlywed over a delicious breakfast can save you time and money. Hotels often charge for breakfast or do not offer it, so doing a little due diligence before booking can pay off. Even though many want to go all out on their honeymoon, having access to a complimentary breakfast will ensure you have more money and time to do other activities.
Mark Patrick | Financial Pilgrimage
Be Prepared for the Unknown
One key to a successful marriage is preparing for the unknowns. If you are traveling abroad, mosquito bites can be one of those unknowns. Depending on the location, there could be the risk of Zika virus, Dengue, or malaria. Plus, you don’t know what will be available when you get to your destination and where to find it.
Making homemade mosquito repellent (balms are best for traveling, as aerosols and liquids have restrictions on planes) can alleviate some risks. And, most likely, it will save you money compared to purchasing it in another country.
Davin | Nature of Home
Preplan and Agree on How You Will Split Shared Expenses
First, make sure that you and your spouse-to-be feel comfortable talking about money and agree on how to split shared expenses. Next, include the honeymoon cost in your wedding savings plan, but preplan what you can to clarify costs upfront while leaving wiggle room for unanticipated spending.
Adam Kol, CEO | The Couples Financial Coach
Save Money on Food Costs
When planning your honeymoon on a budget, consider staying in a rental with a full kitchen to save money on food costs. Try meal planning prior to your trip to take the thought out of meal-time while on your vacation. If you are driving to your destination, you could prepare meals ahead of time to freeze and take with you. Or schedule a grocery pickup upon arrival so you have fresh food to enjoy. Preparing your meals together as a new couple is a great way to bond while freeing up money to use on other memorable activities or experiences during your honeymoon.
Lisa | Adapt Your Dollars
Honeymoon in a Cheap State
If you’re looking to save some money on your honeymoon, consider traveling to one of the lowest cost of living states in the U.S. states like Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia offer a variety of activities for couples on a budget.
For example, you could go hiking or camping in the Ozarks, visit the Memphis Zoo, or take a scenic drive through the Appalachian Mountains. Plus, you’ll find that hotels and restaurants in these states are very reasonably priced. You’ll be sure to have a memorable and affordable trip.
Isaiah Webby | Get Loot
Save Money Renting from a Timeshare Owner
According to a survey by HoneymoonGoals.com, Hawaii is the most popular honeymoon destination in the world. But when you see that the average hotel nightly rate is $287.76 across all the islands, but a staggering $467.09 on Maui, your dream honeymoon may feel out of reach.
If you want to honeymoon at an oceanfront resort on Kaanapali Beach, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, it’s possible to rent a hotel room from a timeshare owner and save big. When you book the same global hotel brand rooms from a timeshare owner, you can save approximately 50% of the hotel’s direct or even travel deal site price. For example, Timeshares Only recently had listings for Kaanapali Beach Club, a Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Resort. A one-bedroom condo unit with a living room, king-size master bedroom, and a partial kitchen’s best online booking price is $543 a night but can be rented from a timeshare owner for $275 a night.
Monica Fish | Planner at Heart
Get a Big Welcome Bonus from a New Travel Reward Credit Card
Travel demand is skyrocketing in the post-pandemic world, which is great news for your honeymoon options, but potentially bad news for your budget. One way you can enjoy the honeymoon of your dreams without breaking the bank is by signing up for travel rewards credit cards. Many of them offer welcome bonuses of $500 or more if you spend a certain amount in the first few months, which can be redeemed for airfare, hotels, and other travel perks.
Need some tips to meet the spending threshold? With the average wedding bill ringing up at $28,000 according to The Knot, both husband and wife-to-be should have no problem earning the bonus in time to plan a spectacular honeymoon.
Andrew Herrig | Wealthy Nickel
Pack some snacks! Whether you’re stuck in traffic on the way to the airport, or have a long wait there, finding healthy snacks at the airport or even while on vacation can be difficult and expensive. Keep some snacks like these chocolate energy bites handy when you feel hungry or need an energy boost.
Nadia Tahir | This Mom is On Fire
Take the Road Less Traveled
Dreaming of two weeks of honeymoon bliss in a far-away tropical setting? With its gorgeous blue water and secluded beaches, it’s no wonder the Maldives is the third most popular destination for newlyweds. It also comes with a hefty price tag. According to budgetyourtrip.com, a site that uses real data from travelers to compile numbers, the average cost of a two-week luxury trip for two to the Maldives is $16,001.
Savvy couples can save substantially on travel expenses by choosing a less popular location for their honeymoon. For instance, according to the same site, a two-week luxury trip for two on a beautiful beach in Thailand costs $9486. You can save even more by opting for a tropical, high-end vacation in Vietnam. You’ll still enjoy pristine waters, posh accommodations, and beach views to make your honeymoon truly memorable.
Karee | Our Woven Journey
Delay Your Honeymoon Just a Bit
Anyone planning a wedding understands the enormity of turning that one moment in time into a lifetime of memories. You may have your heart set on a June wedding, an expensive time of year. Don’t go right away. Your wedding zips by so quickly. Instead, enjoy this time fully by taking a short minimoon to a romantic getaway. Delay your honeymoon for a few months when you have some savings and time to do the kind of planning you deserve. It may allow you to go during the shoulder season after prices peak to save money and still enjoy the destination of your dreams.
Linda | The Cents of Money
Eat Healthy Before Your Honeymoon
Eating healthy meals for the weeks leading up to your honeymoon will help you feel great, have energy, and feel less sluggish for your upcoming travels. We all tend to indulge when traveling, and keeping it healthy before your honeymoon will help you appreciate all the yummy food you’ll eat even more.
Annie Brown | Savvy Honey
Hire a Photographer for a Honeymoon Photoshoot
Honeymoon photo sessions have become very popular in the last few years. Many couples hire local photographers at their wedding destinations because working with a professional photographer guarantees unforgettable photos.
It won’t just save you from worrying about looking good or catching a passing stranger to snap a photo when the moment is right, but you can also have a stunning photo session with great lighting and fashionable outfits.
Nicole Graham | Womenio
Plan a Honey-Cruise
Cruises can be a great way to keep costs under control for a honeymoon. Since the destination might not be the most important aspect of the cruise, you can pick ones that currently have great pricing. My favorite aspect is that since they are all-inclusive, and have a pre-set itinerary, there is less to plan for a cruise than on other trips. Because cruises are all-inclusive, you can even schedule excursions ahead of time, you will have a much better idea of the total cost of the honeymoon before you book. They also work with nontraditional weddings where the departure port is actually a destination wedding.
Tyler Weaver | Relentless Finances
The Bottom Line
No matter where your Honeymoon travels take you, or if you decide to delay or forego the expense, these tips will help you start your new life feeling financially fit and ready for whatever life throws your way.
This article was originally published on Wealthtender.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.