As you budget for your wedding, things can get complicated, especially if multiple parties (parents, grandparents, the newlyweds themselves) are helping to foot the bill. One question in particular always comes up: Who pays for the honeymoon?
"When anticipating all of their honeymoon spending and creating their budgets, [couple's should] add about 15 to 20 percent wiggle room for unexpected costs," advises wedding expert Emily Forrest Skurnik. "Just like with the wedding, there are bound to be expenses that pop up while planning that couples may want to make room for, or splurge on because it's such a special trip."
Meet the Expert
Emily Forrest Skurnik is the Director of Communications for Zola, an online wedding registry, wedding planner, and retailer.
It's easy to get lost in planning the where and when, but first things first. You need to find out who's writing the check. We've outlined a few different options for who will be handing over their credit card for your honeymoon expenses.
Who Traditionally Pays for the Honeymoon
"'Traditional' older etiquette states that the groom and his parents are supposed to fund the honeymoon because the bride and her family are paying for the wedding," explains Forrest Skurnik while noting that these rules no longer apply. The scope of priorities, careers, family dynamics, and the way couples view their relationships has completely changed over the years so it's no surprise that this antiquated custom would too.
One set of parents, or both, may offer to step up and give the couple their honeymoon. That might come in the form of a check that the newlyweds can use to plan their own trip, or it might be a trip that the parents arranged. And, in some cases, the honeymoon might be a complete surprise where the couple has no idea where they're headed until they open an envelope and find tickets inside (let's hope they've packed correctly!).
Couples can also pay for the honeymoon themselves. "Based on the results of [Zola's] First Look Report survey, where we asked over 3,000 couples about their 2022 weddings and also their financial priorities, 77 percent of couples are focused on budgeting for future travel and their honeymoon," notes Forrest Skurnik. "This points to the fact that that the majority of couples today are contributing financially to their honeymoons, if not funding them completely." Or, perhaps one of you will cover the expenses for the entire honeymoon while the other is responsible for another aspect of the wedding. It's up to each individual couple and their financial situation to find a solution that works for them. There are no wrong options! If you have limited funds, find ways to save on your honeymoon and get the most bang for your buck. Whether it's a quiet trip up the coast or a campground adventure, you'll be together and married—and that will make it magical.
If paying for the wedding on credit cards, choose cards that earn travel points so that your wedding payments essentially pay for the honeymoon.
Everyone Contributes Via a Honeymoon Registry
If a couple has arranged a honeymoon registry instead of, or in addition to, a traditional wedding registry, the answer to who pays for the honeymoon is actually the guests. "The majority of couples do add at least one cash fund to their Zola registry, many asking for support making their dream honeymoon come true!" says Forrest Skurnik. A honeymoon registry allows guests to pay for activities, meals, or excursions the couple can enjoy during the honeymoon, or help fund flights or hotel stays. It's an ideal option for couples who don't necessarily need housewares or other traditional wedding gifts. "If contributions for the honeymoon are the most-wanted gift, break down the trip into specific cash funds," advises Forrest Skurnik. "For example, instead of creating one honeymoon fund, create a fund for airfare, a fund for the hotel, a fund for date-night dinners, a fund for the spa, a fund for excursions. Guests love to give to something very specific and tangible." There are honeymoon registry websites that make it super simple and easy to set up the fund, including Honeyfund, Zola, Traveler's Joy, and others.
Use the Cash and Checks You Receive as Wedding Gifts
Another option is to pool all the money you received as wedding gifts (which can really add up!) and use that to fund the honeymoon. As more and more couples opt to take their honeymoon a few months or even a year after the wedding, using monetary gifts from guests to cover honeymoon costs is a great way to know exactly how much money the couple has to work with, as well as to ease the strain on their savings account after the wedding has come and gone. Plus, that way, you can wait until after the wedding (and wedding planning) to start honeymoon planning!
When it comes to who pays for the honeymoon, there really can be no wrong answer. Your grandparents, great grandparents, extended family members, or even close friends might surprise you with the trip of a lifetime. It's an incredibly generous gift that you'll be forever grateful for. Ideally, they'll gift it to you early on in the wedding and honeymoon planning process so you'll know what you're working with. Perhaps the honeymoon budget you started can then be allocated elsewhere!