Planning a wedding is a seriously exciting time for a lot of people, but it can also come with a lot of stress. Those checklists are no joke, all of you. That’s why it’s so important to carve out time for you and your partner to retreat alone together, somewhere no one can bug you, and you can enjoy each other’s company as spouses for the first time. Yay! Maybe you’re picturing a week-long cruise, or a weekend in the mountains, or a month backpacking Europe. Whatever you and your partner want, works, but how long should honeymoons be, anyway? Do you need a week to recover? Two weeks? A month? Well, according to experts, it doesn’t matter as long as you and your new spouse are getting quality time together.
The end of wedding planning is finally in sight, and you can start picturing yourself relaxing with your new spouse on your long-awaited honeymoon. Now you just have to finalize the plans. Unfortunately, you’ll find that planning your honeymoon often requires plenty of consideration, too. Where you’ll go and when are just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps the bigger question that most brides- and grooms-to-be grapple with is how long they want to-and can!-spend away celebrating their marital bliss. Here are a few questions to ask yourselves as you begin making travel plans to determine how long your honeymoon should be.
Where do you want to go?
Your honeymoon destination will help set the standard for all other considerations that you’ll have to make in regard to your travel plans. “If you’re hoping to enjoy a series of Mediterranean hotspots during the August high season, your dollar will not take you as far, and your trip, by definition, would need to be shorter,” says Carrie Wallace, founder and president of Cerulean World Travel. “But if a destination offering great value, such as Costa Rica, is your choice, you may very well be able to travel for twice as long on the same budget as you would in Europe.”
Can you afford it?
As you start planning your honeymoon (but before booking any reservations), Ursula Kilian, a planner at Casa de Uco in Mendoza, Argentina, recommends that couples set an estimated budget so they can make sure they’re considering only places that they can afford. “This budget should encompass all transportation to and from the destination, and any travel expenses such as rental cars or taxis while they are there, accommodations, food and beverage, activities, and a reserve amount of money for any emergencies or added expenses,” she says. “It’s also valuable to set up flight alerts in advance to save money on flights, which can then be turned into more money toward the honeymoon itself.”
How much vacation time do you have?
Like most Americans, you probably only get two or three precious weeks’ worth of vacation. Once you factor in any time, you had to take off during the year, and any additional time you’ll need to take off for your big day, that you may not have much PTO left for your honeymoon. One strategy Wallace recommends is to delay your honeymoon and attach your travels to a national holiday, thus adding another day or two to enjoy your newlywed time together without breaking the vacation bank. “If your boss or company is flexible, you may find you are granted an extra day or two as a ‘gift’ for your wedding,” she says. Hey, it never hurts to ask!
When will you go?
Kilian recommends that couples consider the time of year they plan to honeymoon, as this can affect the amount of activities they can put into each day. “For example, couples travelling to the Caribbean during hurricane season might want to schedule a longer trip as activities could get cancelled because of weather,” she says. “Also remember that certain areas, such as South America, have opposite seasons from North America.” It’s important to research these types of things to make sure you’re travelling at the right time.
No matter where you are in the stages of wedding planning, the opportunity to switch gears for a moment and start thinking about how to plan your honeymoon is always a welcome break. There are so many topics to discuss! Where in the world might the two of you want to go? How long should your honeymoon be, and when would the best time be to take your honeymoon, officially? (You’d be surprised at how many couples delay taking their honeymoon for better timing, whether that’s coinciding with work calendars and vacation days, or just the best time of year to visit your dream honeymoon destination). And, if you’re going to delay your honeymoon, would you want to plan a post-wedding mini-moon getaway, too?
Wondering when to start thinking about booking your honeymoon? The ideal time frame is six to eight months prior to your travel dates, especially if you’re thinking about European honeymoon destinations that coincide with the summer travel season. “January and February are great times to start planning a July or August honeymoon in Europe,” says NYC-based honeymoon travel pro Laura Freeman, founder of The Trip Trotter. “These are not mega-hotels that have thousands of rooms available.”
And sometimes earlier
Airlines regularly change routes, hotels update pricing, and while all of these variables are in play, if you have your sights set on some seriously far-flung adventure destinations, you might want to look at planning your honeymoon as far as a year in advance. “Patagonia trips should be booked a year out,” says Freeman, because the peak travel season is so short. (Same goes for Antarctica cruises).
Plan your honeymoon together
While dividing and conquering can work for wedding planning, it’s not always the best approach when it comes to planning your honeymoon, says Jim Augerinos, president of Perfect Honeymoons. If one person handles all of the planning of your honeymoon, you might end up with a trip that’s more tailored to their desires. Unless your spouse-to-be is uncommonly perceptive about your travel wishes and peeves, honeymoon planning should be a joint effort.
Don’t copy anyone else’s honeymoon itinerary
Wedding planning can be so involved that it’s tempting to copy another couple’s honeymoon itinerary. But while your friends may have loved that no-stress, all-inclusive resort, you might find it tamps your adventurous spirit. Or, maybe you’ve heard your parents reminisce about their honeymoon in Bermuda your whole life, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for the two of you. It’s fine to solicit advice from friends and family, but take it with that proverbial grain of salt. This is your honeymoon, after all, and it should be tailored to your interests.
Be specific about what you want
When you think about exotic destinations, does that mean a luxury resort on an island renowned for its natural beauty? Or are you thinking about some faraway foreign country where you don’t speak the language? Daydream with your partner to figure out what you both want.
Don’t rely (entirely) on online research
Starting your honeymoon planning with a Google search is perfectly fine, but don’t rely only on search engines, says Augerinos. Online reviews can paint a picture that doesn’t match reality, and it’s best to thoroughly vet your ideal destination by talking to friends and family who have been there—and/or a travel professional, too.
Think about using a travel agent
If you want extra guidance planning your honeymoon, travel agents can come in handy. They have insider knowledge on deals and discounts and cultivate personal relationships with hoteliers, which can sometimes mean a room’s available in an otherwise fully-booked hotel. They can also save you endless research time and offer first-hand destination knowledge. “I like to say our service is threefold,” says Augerinos. “We help you choose the perfect destination with the right fit; we do all the planning and researching, and we provide clients service while they’re on their honeymoon. My job is not finished until my clients return home.”
Set a budget for your honeymoon
Your wedding expenses can tally up quickly, and it’s tempting to delve into the honeymoon budget to cover any excess costs. But let’s pause for a moment and think about this: On average, wedding ceremonies and receptions last six to eight hours, while honeymoons last anywhere from seven to 10 to even 14 days. While you’ll never forget the memories of your wedding day, there’s something to be said for the special memories you’ll create on your honeymoon, too.
Be aware of hidden costs
When you’re planning your wedding and your honeymoon, the last thing you want is to be caught off-guard with any last-minute surprise expenses. “Sometimes visas, airport transfers and resort fees can cost upwards of $1,000,” says California native Katie Frederick Jacobson, founder of Ever After Honeymoons. “Always make sure you understand what is included in the cost of your bookings—for example, if you’re going to a really remote island, does your hotel rate include transportation to and from the airport?”
FYI, you don’t have to leave for your honeymoon straight away
Yes, it happens in movies, you know the scene: The newly-married couple floats straight from their wedding and/or reception to the airport, en route to their honeymoon (or mini-moon). Now back to real life, where our pros advise giving yourselves some time to catch your breath between the ceremony and the big trip. Whether you’re flat-out exhausted or didn’t hydrate properly during the weekend’s events, the odds are that immediately following your wedding festivities you’ll appreciate a good night’s rest. “Leave on Monday, or even Tuesday, following a Saturday wedding,” says Augerinos.
Sample the culture
One reprieve from wedding/honeymoon planning? Well, there’s no reason to wait until your actual honeymoon to give your dream destination a taste! Lookup a nearby restaurant or whip up a specialty from the region to immerse yourselves in the culture. Another option: Turn on your Netflix account and cozy up together with a movie that shows off the location’s scenery and culture. You’ll be daydreaming (or actually dreaming) in no time!
Post your plans on social media
No doubt your honeymoon will be filled with Insta-worthy moments, but the planning process is worth a post on your social network, too. Once you have selected your honeymoon destination, definitely ask for recommendations. It will feel great to share the excitement with your loved ones, and you may even get some insider advice from others, too.
Let your hotel know if you have any special requests
Say you want to be in a suite that faces West so you’ll be able to sip champagne and watch the sunset from your balcony—it’s important to make sure that your hotel has that room intel, notes Freeman. And even though you want to keep your schedule as flexible as possible, some things do need to be booked in advance: Many resorts offer just one private dinner on the beach each night, so that would need to be reserved as early as possible, advises Frederick.
While it is great to work side-by-side with your significant other to plan your honeymoon, try to sneak a few surprises in there, too! Pricey or full-day activities are best to discuss as a duo. Still, adding a couple’s massage into the mix or scheduling a special dinner they might not know about in advance is the perfect way to add a bit of excitement to your romantic—and hopefully memorable—honeymoon vacation together. Cheers to you both!
A weekend mini-moon
Ahhhh, the mini-moon. Mini-moons are becoming increasingly common in today’s day and age, as couples are finding it harder to take time off work, decide where they want to go, and save up the money for a longer honeymoon. Many people also take mini-moons straight after their wedding for a little newlywed getaway, so they have more time to properly plan and save for the honeymoon of a lifetime in the future!
Mini-moons are perfect if you fancy taking a drive or a short flight far enough away from your house to call it a holiday but then return home after a couple of days to your families and friends to start your new life together.
One week – two weeks honeymoon
Taking a week to two-week-long honeymoon is the most common amongst newlyweds, who decide to jet off across the world to embark on their first journey as a married couple. The week/two-week-long honeymoon is ideal for those people who wish to travel further afield.
For example, if you’re travelling to America or Asia, you will spend nearly two of those days in flight – so you couldn’t exactly go for the weekend. A one to two-week-long honeymoon gives you just enough time to unwind, relax, spend quality time with your husband or wife and explore what that city or country has to offer.
One month honeymoon
With more and more young people opting to spend their mid-20s to mid-30s travelling around the world, many are now incorporating this into their honeymoons. This option is perfect for those who have the travel bug and aren’t sold on the idea of one honeymoon destination. Why go to one place when you could see twenty? One of the best ways to travel for your one month honeymoon is to grab yourselves a European Interrail pass, which allows you to eat, sleep and explore a new country in Europe every single day.
If you’re struggling for money, set up your honeymoon gift fund, and ask friends and family to contribute to a day’s travelling. As long as you have thirty guests, you’ll be laughing!
One year honeymoon
Many newlywed couples aren’t ready to jump back into their boring 9-5’s after the thrill and excitement of their wedding and are now opting to embark on a huge year-long adventure with their new husband or wife. Although this takes a lot of planning, a year-long honeymoon is totally doable and will allow you to visit country after country.
Fancy taking a trip to Australia? Why not rent a campervan and drive yourself around for a month? Always wanted to see the Great Wall of China? No problem. Got a craving to take a safari around the Serengeti? You can totally do that.
You may have a new job, you may be sick of where you live, you may want to explore the world with no intention of returning – and that’s okay. More and more newlywed couples are now using their honeymoon as an excuse to relocate to another country. After your wedding, you wave goodbye to your family. Only this time, you don’t know when you’ll see them again. Many couples who choose this option still make their first few weeks in the new country special and celebrate as newlyweds, but then they find a house, start their new jobs or continue their travels.
If this is something you and your fiancé are planning, you will need to set up your honeymoon registry earlier than the average honeymoon, as you’ll need as much time and money to plan it.
No matter how long you want your honeymoon to be, or how long you wait to take your honeymoon, it is still important that you eventually take one after your wedding. “I think it is important for most people to take a honeymoon because it carries a lot of weight socially and because it is meant to be an enjoyable, formative experience for the couple to remember their whole life,” Grant Brenner, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and co-author of Irrelationship tells Elite Daily. Plenty of couples wait a while to go on their honeymoon instead of going right after their wedding in an attempt to save enough money to take a nice vacation.
“Nowadays, when people date and live together, and have sexual and other intimate relations long before they even think about getting married,” it means that “the honeymoon takes on less importance,” Brenner says. However, Brenner insists that a vacation is still important, regardless of when you take it or whether or not you want to call it a “honeymoon.”
After months of wedding prep, your honeymoon should offer some much-needed relaxation and quality time together and maybe one of the biggest trips you’ve taken together so far. While it sounds heavenly, sometimes the task of honeymoon planning (on top of wedding planning) can take a stressful turn. We talked to a few travel experts to get some inside knowledge on how to plan a honeymoon that’s low on stress and big on savings.