Wedding planning is often a group effort. You and your bride have probably had the help of friends and relatives, if not professional wedding planners, for a lot of the
logistics and the smaller duties at the actual ceremony. But how to plan your honeymoon? It's all left up to you.
By the time of the honeymoon, all that gets left behind. It’s just you and your bride — in what can easily turn into a test of your competency as a couple and a partnership!
But don’t get all stressed about that. Your honeymoon is supposed to be fun. And if you’re smart about planning ahead of time, neither of you will have anything to think about except the fun — and each other — the whole time.
Know Before You Go
What kind of honeymoon do you want?
That’s a broad question with a lot of specific answers — and you’ll want all of them answered well before the wedding:
- How do you want to spend your time?
- How much service do you want?
- Where is the money coming from to pay for it?
Plus, the practical details…
How Do You Want to Spend Your Time?
Do you the two of you like planned activities and scheduled outings? If you do, you’re going to want to set those up ahead of time, especially anything that needs reservations.
Would you prefer to take things as they come and spend the majority of your time “relaxing” — sitting or strolling in attractive locations with no specific plan? Then the most important factor is finding the kind of location you both like to be idle in, and bringing enough books or other leisure activities for yourself.
Think of it as the difference between a “sightseeing” honeymoon and a “beach” honeymoon. You might not actually be on a beach, or taking tours of famous sites, but the fundamental question is how much of your time you want to plan versus leave unplanned.
The more planned activities you have, the more preparation in advance it’s going to take, but on the other hand you won’t have to be thinking up ways to have fun once the honeymoon starts.
How Much Service Do You Want?
Some people’s idea of relaxation involves more work than others.
The all-inclusive resort is the iconic emblem of honeymoon idleness. Everything is covered in the base charge: the staff is going to take care of feeding you, cleaning your room, doing your laundry, and so on (although these days “all-inclusive” doesn’t include the bar, so watch yourself there).
At the other extreme, you’ve got a backpacking or hostel-hopping honeymoon where you and your bride are responsible for everything up to and including your food, the stove to cook it on, and the fuel for the stove.
The more you have other people doing things for you, the more expensive the sticker price is going to be. The pay-off is that you have more time for pure leisure activities, and you don’t need the specialized equipment that seriously rugged travel plans would (which can be almost as expensive as a resort stay if you’re doing hardcore outdoor activities).
This is a very important discussion to have with your bride-to-be! Don’t assume that everyone likes an equal amount of pampering. One or the other of you may have much more luxurious expectations than the other. Figure out a level of being catered to (or not) that works for both of you before you start looking at potential destinations, hotels, etc.
How Are You Going to Pay For It?
Always the big question.
A lot of people these days, if they can’t afford a trip on their own, ask for it as a wedding gift from one or both sides of the family.
A similar, but more spread-out, approach is to use a website that apportions travel expenses and turns them into a sort of wedding “registry.” Using these, one guest might fund a single night’s stay at a hotel as their wedding gift, while another could cover tickets to a show, and so on.
Ideally, of course, none of these are necessary. It’s always nice to avoid classic money mistakes, successfully save for your marriage and pay for your own honeymoon. It's something of a measure of you and your bride’s financial independence as a couple and traditionalists aren’t fond of wedding registries in general, much less honeymoon-themed ones.
But if you don’t have the ability to fund the trip you want yourselves, a gift from relatives or a registry-style wish list is probably the best way to manage a honeymoon.
How To Plan Your Honeymoon: The Practical Details
So let’s say you know what kind of vacation you like, how much service you want from others during your honeymoon, and how you’re going to pay for it all.
How does that translate into an actual plan?
Think of this as a broad checklist — you’ll want to consider each of these issues, and
go into as much detail as you need on each.
An obvious one — you have to know where you’re going!
A city, state, or country is an obvious starting place, but it can get more complicated than that. Some key points to think about:
- Are you only staying in one city, or are you planning on moving around?
- Is it a popular site that requires reservations?
- Is your destination seasonal like a beach in summer?
- Are you looking for the best place to buy a suit while you're there? (Just kidding.)
Booking a cottage in Sarasota, FL for a couple of nights is a casual feat. Getting reservations at Yosemite National Park with tickets for the Half-Dome trail, on the other hand, may require you to know that that’s what you want to do for your honeymoon a year in advance or more — and once you have the bookings you’re locked in.
The easier it is to find lodgings and entertainment at your destination year-round, the easier your planning will be. Balance that against whatever specific goals you and your bride have for the honeymoon.
Mostly just a cost consideration, transportation gets more complicated if you’re staying in multiple locations.
This is especially true for air travel — flying is less flexible than driving, even in a rental car, or taking trains where they’re available, so the more plane tickets you have to juggle the more painstaking you have to be with your schedule.
Some couples get around this by making the transportation part of the event. Cruise ships are the most obvious example, but backpacking, rafting/canoeing/kayaking, cycling, and horseback riding are all also ways to get from one destination to the other as both transportation and entertainment.
Whatever your arrangements, make them in advance and have all the tickets and papers in one place, on your person, so that no matter what stage of the journey you’re at you can always reach into your jacket and pull out what you and your bride need.
Another basic one. Make the reservations well in advance, and call a few days beforehand to confirm all your arrangements.
There’s not too much else to think about on this one — look over your calendar and make sure you have a roof over your heads (or a place to pitch your tent) every night on it.
If you don’t, fix that problem.
In some cases, your lodgings may take care of your food as well (hotel brunches, all-inclusive resorts, etc.)
In other cases, a little extra planning may be needed.
Are you thinking about eating out the whole time? If so, have you budgeted enough?
Food costs add up quickly when you’re paying for prepared meals three times a day.
Is fine dining a part of the schedule? If you’re going to very fancy or trendy places, you’ll want reservations well ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Consider including them in the same stage of planning as booking the lodgings and transportation.
And if you and your bride are cooking for yourselves, make sure you’ve got the right tools and facilities. Not all guest cottages have well-stocked kitchens. If you’re going to surprise your new bride with breakfast in bed somewhere, make sure the stuff to make it is going to be waiting there for you — or bring it yourself.
Be aware that weddings are often draining (and stunning) personal challenges and plan accordingly. If you’ve just made it through yours, your body is going to need a little R&R: rest and recuperation.
In severe cases you could experience nausea, headaches, or tremula both during and after a wedding, usually brought on by an excess of adrenaline and its subsequent withdrawal.
Most of us never experience anything that severe (and for those that do, the cure is rest and relaxation, although anti-nausea medication and general painkillers can help with the symptoms).
But it’s still worth doing your planning with the assumption that you and your wife will both need a few days of taking it easy. If you want to go climb mountains or shark dive or whatever, that’s fine, but maybe save it for a few days into the honeymoon.
Pace yourselves, expect that you may run out of steam faster than you’re accustomed to, and make sure your schedule includes some downtime, and you should be just fine.
Let’s be blunt: couples on honeymoon are generally expected to be at it like rabbits.
You don’t have to be, of course. That’s between you and your spouse. But if you are planning on some conjugal recreation in the evening, do everyone a favor and be prepared for it.
If you’re using contraception, bring it — don’t count on being able to fill a prescription on the road. In some places, you may even have a hard time finding condoms.
You might also put a little thought into how to make the bedroom activities a little more special and romantic for the honeymoon. Pack some soft his-and-hers robes for lounging in, wear nice underwear, arrange for a champagne bucket and strew the bed with rose petals — whatever is going to strike her fancy, and yours.
It’s not exactly an item you can cross off on a checklist. Everyone’s needs and interests are different. But do consider putting a little thought into making whatever happens in the evenings as enjoyable as possible for both of you, rather than counting on a magical honeymoon glow to make it all fantastic for you.
How To Plan Your Honeymoon – Conclusion
How well your honeymoon goes after the wedding depends on how much planning you did before the wedding.
The more complicated the honeymoon, the more extensive that planning needs to be.
Whatever it takes, get it all done beforehand, and don’t leave anything to chance or to “we’ll make arrangements when we get there.”
It’s your and your wife’s first impression of married life together. Make it a good one.
Want to know more about how to make the wedding ceremony itself a day to remember? Click here to discover my ultimate guide to wedding attire for men.