The honeymoon budget. The least glamorous, yet most important part in planning your honeymoon. You’ll need to play both accountant and travel agent, matching your travel fund to your dream getaway whether that’s to beautiful sand beaches, a road trip, a group trip, a trip-of-a-lifetime, a staycation, a cruise, or an all-inclusive resort blowout. The key is to know your (real!) dollars in advance, pay for static costs ahead of time (knowing on-the-ground splurges await), and, most importantly, decide where in the world you’re going for your dream honeymoon!
Read on for five simple steps for crafting a honeymoon budget that will take you on your dream honeymoon whether that be to the beach, jungle, or overwater bungalow and back, without breaking the bank.
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Know your (honest!) numbers.
Plan a honeymoon ahead! First, a baseline: US honeymooners spend around $4,500 on a nine-day trip that’s booked four months ahead of the wedding and scoops up roughly 14% of the wedding budget. But, of course, the sky’s the limit whether you blow the honeymoon budget on airfare upgrades or splurge on an ocean-view dreamscape.
Our honeymoon planners suggest a daily budget of around $400 to cover a four-star hotel and activities (outside of peak season) and to limit your accommodation spend to 60% of your total budget. With this in mind, consider a high/low mix of wallet-friendly lodging and a busy daytime itinerary at the start of your trip, then a budget-blowing suite upgrade and plenty of room service to round out the honeymoon experience.
Decide where you’re going (and when).
The destination and type of vacation will have the biggest impact on your budget, so nail this piece of the world puzzle first. Around 75% of American honeymooners choose to stay on home turf, but for overseas honeymoon spots, Mexico, Jamaica, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, and Hawaii top the list. All offer beach days and sunshine, but also wallet-busting peak seasons or unpredictable weather.
For a Caribbean fly-and-flop, know that prices on the islands vary wildly and apparent hacks like going to a less-popular destination can mean fewer flight options so higher airfare. “The most expensive Caribbean islands are Barbados (which traditionally attracts a high-end clientele); the Cayman Islands (whose dollar is worth more than the U.S dollar); and the islands whose currency is the Euro (including St Barth, Guadeloupe, and Martinique),” says Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, travel writer and Caribbean expert.
For the most affordable honeymoon destinations in the Caribbean, look at the most popular cruise destinations, places like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Aruba. Also, turn to flight aggregators like Flights From to discover unexpected routes from your nearest travel hub.
Get your honeymoon non-negotiables down on paper.
Since you’re in vow writing mode, spend an evening working on your honeymoon vacation non-negotiables together. If you’ve always dreamt of rolling straight from the wedding to an overwater bungalow in the Maldives, your budget will have to play a flexible role. If you’re happy delaying, it’s the destination and departure that will bend around your budget constraints. Consider:
- Seasonality. Caribbean hurricane season lasts from August to November, but, with the right trip insurance, summer travel opens up low-season rates at the most luxurious resorts. Plus, an island like Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Bermuda are outside the hurricane belt. For winter weddings, the southern hemisphere’s your playground for adventures with popular destinations such as Argentina’s wine region and rugged coastal towns, or South East Asia’s cities and white-sand beaches.
- Staycations. Believe the friends who tell you wedding planning is exhausting—the staycation lets you flop, share highlights, sleep in, and order all the room service. Our only tip here is to go for the romantic room with a roll top tub.
- Sales. January and February are the busiest months for booking travel, but they’re also a prime time for snagging a flash sale on airfare or 4th-night-free resort promotion. Start following airlines on their social channels to hear about deals first and, if you’re undecided on the destination, let the best deals plan your honeymoon.
Assign your Cash Fund to on-the-ground expenses.
Zola’s cash funds are the most-listed items on couples’ registries—over 75 percent of Zola couples use them and around 60 percent are designated in your honeymoon budget funds. But like all wedding gifts, they’re often given close to or even after the wedding, so how do you factor them into your budget? Our tip is to pay for known costs like airfare and hotels in advance, then use the cash fund for bonus activities and hotel upgrades once you arrive.
Pro tip: The more you can personalize your cash fund, the more your guests will enjoy contributing. Zola couple Amanda & Aaron added 33 specific honeymoon activities so guests knew they were gifting an item and not just cash. Not only did the couple far exceed their target, but they also noticed that guests were excited to hear about their honeymoon experience, so shared photos of their gifted experience in the thank-you notes.
Photo Credit // Unsplash
Get ahead of unexpected costs and add 20% to any quote.
No matter where you travel, you’ll need to add an unknowable line item for taxes and admin fees. This is especially true where tourism is the principal industry. Most resorts in the Caribbean add an additional room tax, service tax, and hotel occupancy tax to the advertised rate, which can easily add 20% to the bill. This is before the common resort fee, which covers things like WiFi, towels, coffee, and newspapers, and ranges from $20-$50 per day.
Among all-inclusive resorts, a honeymooners’ favorite, Sandals, is a welcome exception to this rule, and all taxes and fees covered by the all-inclusive rate. Only spa treatments, golf caddies, gift shop items, some medical assistance, and other small items cost extra.