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, a bucket list trip, or your dream vacation is what most people think of when they hear the word honeymoon. But with sky-high wedding expenses, rent, and home prices going up, how can you make your dream a reality? Well, we got you!
18 Tips for Planning a Honeymoon That Doesn’t Break the Bank
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 others 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). Because those rainy days may come faster than you think! When we returned from our honeymoon, our only car died two weeks later and we had to get a new one. That was definitely not in our plan!
1. 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
2. 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
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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
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!
6. 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.
Google Flights Explore is a simple yet effective travel planning tool that can be a powerful ally when searching for cheap airfare.
Alexandrea Sumuel | Wander with Alex
7. 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
8. 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
9. 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
10. 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
11. Do a Mini-Moon Instead
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
12. Don’t Forget About Airbnb Rentals
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.
For example, the top-rated Airbnb in Hawaii is perfect for a honeymoon. For about the same price as the average hotel room in Kihei Maui, you can stay in a one-bedroom ocean view condo that has received Airbnb’s Best Hospitality Distinction for the entire state of Hawaii.
I find that newlyweds get more with their money when choosing from a house-sharing network. You can find a beautiful of a place to stay, with more privacy and sometimes a smaller price tag. 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 by talking about what kind of honeymoon you’re both dreaming of.
Nathan Mueller, MBA | BlackBird Finance
13. 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
14. 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
15. 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
16. 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
17. 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
18. 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
5 Tips to Stay on Budget During Your Honeymoon
1. 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
2. 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
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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
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.
Brian is the CEO and founder of Wealthtender. He and his wife live in Texas, enjoying the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin. With over 25 years in the financial services industry, Brian is applying his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.