A honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation! So it should be unique to you as a couple and should create special memories that you’ll be talking about for years to come. Whether you’re dreaming of an overwater bungalow, a fairytale town, or a cabin in mountains, you’re also planning for a wedding, and you probably don’t want to break the bank along the way. So, how do you even begin to put a price on your trip of a lifetime and plan your honeymoon budget?
Where you want to go, what you want to do, and what level of luxury you want to experience will all factor into the overall cost. And there are a few simple steps to figure out what is realistic and what you can afford. We’ve created a fun worksheet to get you started with the steps outlined below. Download our free Honeymoon Budget Worksheet here!
STEP 1: COMMUNICATION & THE BIG PICTURE
The foundation of every good relationship is communication. And budgeting for the perfect honeymoon requires a lot of it! You want to ensure that you’re both on the same page in terms of expectations.
Start with the big picture. You don’t have to decide where you’re going or what exactly you’ll do when you get there, yet. Instead, talk about what kinds of things you imagine doing and in what kinds of environments.
Are you walking hand-in-hand along a white sandy beach with ocean waves as your soundtrack? Wandering the cobblestone streets of Europe and feeling like you’ve stepped into a fairytale? Spending your days lounging in your luxury honeymoon suite with an awe-inspiring view? Did you travel far to get there or was it a quick flight to paradise?
[Photo Credit: Molly & Matt via Shared Adventures. Read about their Hawaiian Honeymoon here!]
Try starting the conversation by telling the story of your honeymoon. “I imagine we spend our honeymoon… sipping cocktails in lounge chairs on the beach…”
Once you agree on the general big picture, take some time to write down things you love to do together to give the trip a focus on who you are as a couple. Then write out your non-negotiables. Do you want to leave right after the wedding? Does the accommodation need to have a pool? Do you want to have an immersive local experience? Make sure you’re both clear on what your partner expects from this amazing vacation.
STEP 2: TIMING & LOCATION
Once you have the big picture, you can get into the details and the budget. First, consider how much time you have for the honeymoon. Most people have a certain amount of PTO and you will probably take some of that for the wedding. So, consider how many days you can realistically be away.
If your dates are flexible and the destination is more important than the timing, you can skip the following step.
Now, it’s time to consider the all-important seasonality. Many couples still travel right after the wedding, meaning a fixed time frame for their honeymoon. Consider which destinations are best at different times of the year, and look at whether your specific travel dates exclude any destinations because of poor weather conditions or too-high prices.
[Photo Credit: Shannon & Lou via Shared Adventures. Read about their winter honeymoon to Northern Italy here!]
If you have a specific destination in mind then you can skip this step. However, if you’re still not sure exactly where you want to go, the next step is to figure out a general region. Ask yourself the following:
Do you want to stay close to home or travel farther abroad?
Are you looking for warm or cool weather?
Do you want somewhere on the coast with a beach? Or a big city?
Take a look at a map and talk about the different areas these questions bring to mind in connection with your dates. For example: if you’re looking to stay close to home, with warm weather, on a beach in early June, then you’ll stay in the northern hemisphere and might head to places like Mexico, the Caribbean, or the Bahamas.
STEP 3: COST ESTIMATES
Airfare costs are generally fixed with very little wiggle room and can take up a good chunk of your budget. This makes them the best starting place. Even if you’re not set on a particular destination yet, look back at your time frame, and potential regions. Then start looking at average flight prices for those options. Finding the average flight cost will give you a good starting point for your budget.
Remember to be realistic when you’re looking at flights. You’ll only want one connection and not the super-restrictive basic economy fares that involve all sorts of added fees for seats and bags. Looking at the average economy class fare will give you a better idea of what to build into your budget. And if you’re thinking about splurging on Business or First class for this trip of a lifetime, take a look at those prices too.
Once the estimated airfare is taken into account, it’s time to work out the details. The rest of your budget can fall into roughly three categories: Activities, Accommodations, and Meals. Put these in order of priority (for you) to figure out where you want to splurge and where you can save a little. Are you set on being awe-struck during a hot-air balloon ride? Does your mouth water at the thought of eating at a Michelin star restaurant? Do you want only the finest luxury resort? Whatever is most important, allocate more of your budget towards that key thing. You can make compromises on the pieces that aren’t as important to you.
Pro Tip: If accommodations are important but the full trip in a high-end hotel is stretching your budget, try splitting the accommodations. Stay in a slightly cheaper hotel first and end the last few days on a high note at the luxury property!
[Photo Credit: Katey & Oliver via Shared Adventures. Read about their split-accommodation Costa Rican honeymoon here!]
After deciding which is most important, you can do a little research as to average costs. It doesn’t have to be exact, just a quick search to get a general idea.
STEP 4: SAVING
The final step, once you have a ballpark cost is to add 20%. This is your honeymoon and there are going to be many “treat-yourself-moments”! It’s best to build those into the budget early on.
Finally, decide how you want to start saving! Consider a honeymoon registry to help fund all the extras. After establishing the basic framework for the trip, you can set up a wish list for guests to contribute to tours, activities, spa treatments, dinner on the beach, etc. Set aside a certain amount each month and start saving!
Remember, this method only gives you an estimate, not a hard and fast exact cost. There is always some wiggle room.
WAYS TO SAVE
If you’re finding it hard to get everything on your wish list AND stay within your ideal budget there are a few things you can do to save money:
- Consider cutting a night (or two) to make it work. No one ever remembers how many nights they spent at a destination. It’s better to have exactly the experience you’re dreaming about, but for one less night. If you cut back on the overall experience just to stay longer, you’ll regret it.
- Keeping your dates flexible lets you take advantage of low-season travel and lower prices. Or head to a less-expensive and popular but no-less-amazing destination.
- Talk with a travel agent! Travel agents have years of experience and know-how. If your final budget is just a little more than you want to spend, a travel agent can help. We might know a unique destination that has everything you’re looking for with a slightly lower price tag. We might be able to get you special rates and perks on accommodations. We have connections with tour guides, private drivers, and hoteliers all over the world, giving us the inside scoop on the best destinations for every size budget.
Even in money matters, travel planning should be fun and inspiring. After you fill out the worksheet, let us know what you discover about your dream honeymoon and we can get started!