It’s traditional for the groom to make the arrangements for the honeymoon. It’s also traditional for the groom to pay for the honeymoon, but luckily for you, most couples split the bill these days!
Honeymoon planning is best sorted out early on. You may be thinking of last minute bargains, but in the run up to the wedding you and your fiancée are going to have a lot of other things on your plate. Having to sort out the honeymoon at short notice will just add to the stress. You can get good discounts on package holidays and flights by booking early, so there’s no excuses!
Decide how long you can take off work
A lot of your honeymoon planning will depend on how long you can both take off work. Even if you think you can manage three weeks off, the chances are your fiancee will want to take at least a few days off immediately before the wedding, to get properly prepared. You might want to do the same. Discuss it with her, and work out roughly how long a honeymoon you’re aiming for.
Choose the destination
Then you just need to decide where to go. If you and your fiancee have not decided this already, then work out a few options you might enjoy and talk them through with her. If you’re stuck for inspiration, try the links on the right.
Remember too that this is one holiday where dates can’t really be flexible. So if you’re getting married in May and you fancy a honeymoon in the Seychelles, make sure that May is a good time to visit. (It is, by the way.) Your new wife is not going to thank you for taking her to the Maldives in July (unless she loves torrential rain) or the Caribbean in September (unless she likes hurricanes). For ideas on where to visit at different times of year, check out our seasonal guides.
Be realistic about how much you can fit in
An important rule of honeymoon planning is to try not to pack too much in!
If you are planning an action-packed itinerary, or a multi-stop honeymoon, try to build in time to relax. It’s best to work this in to the first few days of the honeymoon, not the end. Many couples underestimate just how tiring the run up to a wedding can be. Aim for at least a few days chilling when you arrive, and keep the adventure sports for later.
How soon after the wedding?
Once you’ve got an idea of where you want to go then it’s up to you to deal with practicalities.
When fixing the exact dates, try to give yourself at least one clear day between the wedding and the start of your honeymoon. Couples who depart on honeymoon “the morning after” can end up completely exhausted by the time they arrive at their destination.
They also miss out on the post-wedding buzz back home. If you can, use the day after your wedding to rest, enjoy yourself, and debrief with friends and family. You might need to sleep off a hangover too – and a hangover on an aeroplane is not fun!
Package deals can be good value if you’re prepared to haggle. If you are booking flights and accommodation separately, remember that most airlines release flights for sale eleven months in advance. This means you can book almost a year before you travel. Compare flight prices using a site such as Kayak.
For hotels, use a site like Tripadvisor to check the top-rated hotels and resorts in your chosen destination. This is really important – do your homework and make sure the place where you are staying is well reviewed by the people who have stayed there. Don’t risk spending your honeymoon in a poor quality hotel or resort. Once you’re happy, you can then get the best prices by using a travel broker such as Expedia or Ebookers.
Incidentally, don’t be tempted to book the honeymoon in your wife’s married name. You may be keen for her to start using it, but getting all the arrangements in place in advance for your wife to travel in her new name straight after the wedding is a planning nightmare. In some cases – such as applying for visas – it’s actually impossible.
Passports, visas and jabs
You should have at least six month’s validity on your passport when you travel –check the dates on your passport and your fiancée’s too. You can check visa requirements for any country in the world on the Foreign Office’s website.
If you are travelling to a part of the world where you might need jabs, you will need to visit your doctor at least eight weeks prior to travel. Fit for Travel can give you an idea of what you might need.
Once your holiday is booked, try to get travel insurance as soon as you can. Almost all travel insurance policies include cancellation cover, and you may as well get the benefit of it straight away.
You and your fiancee may already have an annual policy, in which case check the terms to see if your honeymoon will be covered. If not, take out a single trip policy.
Remember that some travel insurance policies can be very cheap, but provide only minimal cover. Check out the Foreign Office’s advice on what to check for in a travel insurance policy. One top tip is to pay attention to the single item limit for your possessions if you want cover for that expensive engagement ring!
The easiest option, unless you are going well off the beaten track, is to take credit or debit cards and some cash as a back up. However, don’t rely on your everyday UK plastic to provide you with good value abroad. Most card issuers give you a shocking exchange rate, and if you withdraw cash they’ll charge you for that as well. However, there are some exceptions, such as the Halifax Clarity card.
For buying foreign currency before you leave, then a top honeymoon planning tip is to order it online. Usually it can be delivered to your home, which saves you time and hassle when you have more important things to worry about. Also you can easily make back the cost of having it delivered (usually about five pounds) by getting the best online rates.
Remember that “commission free” means nothing on its own – to work out the best deal you need to know both the commission charged and the exchange rate. Try Money Saving Expert’s Travel Money Maximiser to get the best deal.
If you have never tried to blag an upgrade before, then your honeymoon is a good time to try it. Just don’t plan on getting an upgrade from your airline, as your chances are probably zero. Upgrades have a value and the airlines know it. There’s a strict pecking order and frequent flyers are at the top.
You might have a bit more luck with your hotel – try emailing them in advance, explaining that’s it’s your honeymoon, and asking very nicely for the best room they have. You might get an upgrade on arrival.
Although you probably won’t get an upgrade on your flight, you can still make sure you get decent seats. Most airlines allow you to check in online and choose your seats at least 24 hours in advance of the flight. Get a mate to do it for you if you think you might be tied up (he or she will need your passport numbers). Use Seatguru to find out which are the best seats on the plane and make sure you nab them.
Points mean prizes
If you’re willing to plan in advance, there’s a much easier way to secure an upgrade on your flight booking. Almost all airlines run loyalty programmes and unlike the old days, you don’t need to be a frequent flyer to earn points.
You can earn a lot of points by applying for certain credit cards. Some couples play the game well by earning the points from one partner’s application, then referring their other half (more points for each of you) and then taking the application bonus for the other partner too.
In addition you’ll earn a number of points depending on your level of spending each month. Interest rates are unlikely to be competitive, so make sure you pay off the card bill every month. If you do, a pair business or first class long haul flights are easier to earn than you might think.
American Express rewards cards are usually a good option for points collectors. Various specialist websites can show you the ropes.
Put a cherry on top
Honeymoon planning is the number one job that you as a groom are expected to sort out. It is also the start of your married life. If you have put the hard work in with travel insurance, visas and other boring stuff, you may as well go the extra mile to make it really special.
If you would normally drive or take public transport to the airport, book a taxi or executive car instead. The same goes for arriving at your destination your hotel or resort should be able to arrange for a car to pick you up from the airport.
Also, try to arrange a couple of nice surprises for your wife while you are away. Rides in hot air balloons or helicopters are popular honeymoon choices. Or if you know she likes particular types of flowers, you could ask the hotel to put them in the room for when you arrive.
It doesn’t have to be expensive you could even take a little gift with you in your luggage. Just show her you’ve made the effort.