It's no secret that planning a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time will make you (and your bank account) want to cry out "HELP!"
If you're thinking about how to save money for honeymoon travel, you'll be happy to know that there are many ways to decrease the overall cost of a honeymoon and get the most bang for your buck. Whether you're into booking honeymoon packages or handcrafting the perfect bespoke itinerary, we've got plenty of tricks up our sleeve.
Meet the Expert
Jack Ezon is the founder and managing partner of EMBARK Beyond, a luxury travel agency and advisory. He has been in the travel industry for more than 15 years and is a Virtuoso member.
Here, 21 tips for how to save on your honeymoon.
1. Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates
Just because you're getting married on June 10 doesn't mean you have to leave for your honeymoon on June 11. In fact, it's now commonplace to postpone the honeymoon and opt instead for a shorter long-weekend minimoon or minimoon (a.k.a. staying in your wedding locale for one night and then returning home). Being flexible with your dates allows you to take advantage of cheaper seasonal rates. So if you dream of walking hand-in-hand down the cobblestone streets of Positano, it will be worth your while to go in September or early October, when crowds are thinner and hotel rooms are cheaper. Another way to save is to stay at resorts during the week and in cities on weekends. "This is the opposite pattern of most travelers, and will allow you to take advantage of less costly midweek rates,” says travel adviser Jack Ezon of EMBARK Beyond. For example, head to Napa Valley or Sonoma on a Wednesday, then spend a weekend night or two in San Francisco.
2. Cash in on Your Credit Card Points
By signing up for the right travel rewards credit card, you can rack up rewards and snag a sign-up bonus that can be used toward flights, hotels, and other incidentals. Other points-based cards offer bonus reward multipliers any time the card is used while traveling. Now that you've accrued the freebies, time to cash in: Use points to book flights or splurge on a room category upgrade.
To squeeze the most out of each point, consider moving your desired dates to match points-available flights and rooms. “I went on my honeymoon two weeks after my wedding so we could fly using points and it saved us thousands of dollars,” says Ezon.
3. Take Advantage of Frequent Flyer Miles
You can also use an airline's credit card. One bride, Cindy, told us about her experience using Southwest credit cards: "If you sign up for both the business and personal Southwest credit cards you get a 50,000 signing bonus for each as long as you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months. Those minimums are super easy to hit when planning wedding stuff! And it only takes 125,000 Southwest points to qualify for companion pass status. This part is key because it basically means you get buy-one-get-one-free on any Southwest flight you book for the rest of the year and all of the next calendar year. Now we have tons of points to use and we only have to redeem points for one ticket instead of two. We've already booked several vacations this way and will do the same for the honeymoon and destination wedding."
4. Check Out Hotel Websites
With so many travel deal sites out there, it might seem counterintuitive to go straight to a hotel's website. However, some resorts have a company policy that the best rates are always on their site so do check those numbers before booking elsewhere.
5. Call the Resort Directly
If anyone is empowered to offer a better deal, and at the very least help you pick out the right room (we like an ocean view that's on a high non-smoking floor and away from the elevator) it's the people who are on-site on the property itself, rather than at the corporate headquarters, which may be in another location. If you've found a better deal at a similar hotel, ask if they can match it. Sure, it's a long shot—but if you get the right manager on the phone and explain that the nearby hotel with similar room rates is offering a special that includes breakfast or airport transfers, it's possible that you can get a similar package too.
6. Explain that You're Honeymooners, Every Single Time You Talk to Someone
Resorts aren't just romantics: It's smart business to cater to honeymooners because they're more likely to be repeat customers over the years as the resort will always have a sentimental value for them. (Admit it: If you have a great time, you'd probably love to come back again and again for key anniversaries.) So, if there's something they can do to get your business, make sure they know you'll be celebrating your wedding. They may mark your reservation the first time you mention it, but just in case they don't be sure to mention the fact on subsequent calls.
7. Ask for an Upgrade When You Check In
When you go to check in on arrival, be sure to ask—quietly, so you don't force them to give everyone in line a bump up—if they have any upgrades to a room with a better view or even a suite available. If you're polite, and they have the rooms open, you just may get lucky.
8. Consider Booking with a Savvy Travel Agent
If researching flights and haggling with hoteliers isn't your thing, consider using a travel agent. Travel agents are professionals, after all. Through their own connections and inclusion in perk programs such as Virtuoso, many agents are able to immediately add breakfast, spa treatments, and other gifts to reservations for newly married couples. If you opt to book on your own, be sure to cost-compare, and research the best time to book flights and travel to your desired destination. Be sure to check travel protection and insurance plans too. The more informed you are, the more you can save.
9. Limit the Number of Destinations You Visit
Consider reducing the number of destinations to minimize incidentals, like airport transfer charges, checked bag fees, and porter tips. Make a wish list of your must-dos and prioritize the top two. The rest can wait for your anniversary.
10. Use a Larger Airport, Even If It's Farther Away
Compare prices on flights into all airports surrounding your destination. A visit to the Grand Canyon is expensive if you fly into the nearest hub, Flagstaff, while driving five hours from Las Vegas can be half the price—not to mention it adds both urban and road-trip elements to your honeymoon.
11. Book a Package Deal
Honeymoon packages exist for a reason: to help you get the most bang for your buck. Once you've narrowed down your honeymoon destination(s), look at any hotel/flight promotions to see if there's a package that suits your needs. But don't book a honeymoon package just because; for example, if neither of you plans to use the spa much on your honeymoon, buying a hotel package that includes daily treatments will likely be a waste of money. Do the math on all the activities and special meals you're hoping to include in your honeymoon itinerary, cost-compare to existing honeymoon packages, and decide what makes the most sense for you.
12. Consider Wedding Venues that Offer Honeymoon Rewards
Members of Hyatt's reward program who marry at one of its hotels can earn points for up to five free honeymoon nights, while Marriott's members may rack up enough for up to two complimentary nights.
13. Consider a Cruise
There are massive deals on Caribbean voyages all the time. It's a hassle-free way to see all the island highlights. Check out Seabourn or Crystal Cruises for luxe itineraries; Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, meanwhile, have super-affordable packages with similar routes.
14. Don't Eat Every Meal Out
If you're going on a longer honeymoon, consider eating only one sit-down meal at a restaurant per day. Instead, try quick and cheap lunches at a local market or grocery store and only going out for a nice dinner, or vice versa. And if an expensive place you're dying to try is open for lunch, go then! It will be often less expensive during the day than at dinner.
15. Avoid Over-Priced Incidentals
Snacks and groceries from a hotel shop can be insanely overpriced, whereas local grocery stores or bodegas aren't aimed at tourists and are often less expensive. If you're a snacker, pack some granola bars in your suitcase or head into town for light bites and necessities like toiletries you might've forgotten.
16. Skip the Souvenirs
It's too easy to spend hundreds of dollars on things that will stay in a drawer or cabinet when you return home. Unless it's something you see yourself using for years to come, don't buy souvenirs. Your memories and photos from the trip will be all you need to remember it for decades.
17. Make Your Own Mini Bar in the Hotel Room
It's no secret that alcohol is expensive, especially at hotels. Avoid spending excess cash on predinner drinks or nightcaps by creating your own little bar in your room. You can either pack the booze to bring yourselves or buy it in town or at a duty-free shop when you land. Even if you don't finish the bottle before you check out, it's guaranteed to be cheaper than many room service or drinks at the hotel bar.
18. Use Public Transportation Instead of Cabs and Uber
Ubers and private cars are obviously luxurious and convenient, but in most honeymoon-worthy cities and destinations, opting for public transportation can save you a nice chunk of change—especially if you're trying to book an Uber during a price surge. Do your research and speak to hotel/resort staff for more information on safety, procedures, costs, et cetera.
19. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Tag the hotel in any posts you make on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter—in the days leading up to the wedding, on the day you travel to the resort, and once on your honeymoon. You may get a congratulations tweet from the resort, and some resorts are even slicker with seriously sophisticated social media teams that may offer to buy you a toast at the pool bar.
20. Stay in an Airbnb
Consider staying in an Airbnb rental instead of a traditional hotel. You might get even more privacy and relaxation with a hidden Airbnb gem at a fraction of the cost of a resort in the same neighborhood. Just make sure to do thorough research and pay attention to the property's reviews—this is your honeymoon, after all, and you want to make sure there are no hassles once you arrive.
21. Set Up a Honeymoon Registry
Last but not least, you can skip the traditional wedding registry altogether and set up a honeymoon registry instead. With this arrangement, guests can contribute toward excursions, activities, flights, hotels, and more. Honeymoon registries are perfect for couples who already have all the household items they need and would find contributions to the trip of a lifetime more useful.