25 Honeymoon savings

How to save money and still have the honeymoon of your dreams—25 tips, tricks, and budget advice

1. Register for the honeymoon, not the wine goblets

Which would you prefer: place settings for twelve you'll use once a year when your in-laws visit, or a honeymoon you'll remember the rest of your life? You probably have enough stuff, so tell your friends and family to hold off on the housewares and chip in for a honeymoon instead.

Among the honeymoon registry services, some charge a flat fee: ($100 if you book the trip with them, $150 if you don't), or ($225). Others take a cut of the donations: (3.5% or 9% if you don't book with them), or (5.85% to 8.85%, depending on the price tag).

Or ditch etiquette and go low-tech: Just have everyone send you a check.

2. Two birds, one stone: Destination Weddings

Let's face it: it's not the honeymoon that puts you in the poorhouse, it’s the wedding. So why not get the ceremony for free, and get married on a tropical beach to boot?

Sandals, SuperClubs, and Beaches all offer free wedding ceremonies (add $200 to $300 for license fees) to couples that stay for the honeymoon.

Bonus: it can weed that guest list way down, as only close family and true friends—the ones you really wanted around anyway—will pony up to fly to the islands for your big day.

3. Delay the date

Used to be, the father of the bride underwrote the whole wedding. But these days many couples foot a big portion of the bill, which can leave you strapped for cash right when you're planning an exotic vacation.

So wait. Check into a local hotel for the wedding night and frolic to your hearts' content, but plan a true honeymoon in the near future.

My cousin Katy was married on Hilton Head last summer, and while the happy couple stuck around the resort for a few days afterward to relax, the real honeymoon—two weeks in Costa Rica—came six months down the road.

4. Choose cheaply

Disney World, Mexico, and cruises rank among the cheapest popular honeymoons, but even with typically expensive spots, there's always wiggle room.

There are more islands in the South Pacific than just Bora Bora. Its lesser-known Tahitian cousins—the dragon-back peaks of Moorea and hidden hideaway of Huahine—start around $899 per person for airfare and a week's hotel stay ( or Or try the islands of Fiji (from $999 with or Bali (from $829 at

For Europe, think east. You can have your own Adriatic island off the coast of Croatia for a fraction the cost of a mid-range hotel in neighboring Italy (

You can even do the Caribbean on a budget if you choose a less trendy island—such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, or even Barbados—or if you book with a discount specialist like,,,,, or for divers,

In Hawaii, stay on Oahu, where there are plenty of options in all price ranges—hotels in the Ohana chain, while not necessarily right on the beach, start at $89 a night for a double room with kitchenette ( Or splurge on Maui, but buy a vacation package that includes airfare, hotel, and a rental car starting around $589 per person (

5. Stay local
Domestic travel can save a bundle—there's nothing wrong with the good ol' Poconos or Niagara Falls—and it's your chance to visit some corner of the United States you've always dreamed of.

Why not feast on fresh lobster on the Maine coast, tipple the California wine country, or explore the national parks of the Southwest?

Besides, it's easier to revisit (and re-create) the honeymoon on later anniversaries. My parents honeymooned in Gatlinburg, Tennessee—faux bearskin rug before the fireplace and all. Rather than have it fade into a distant memory, they got to relive their honeymoon whenever our family visited the Smokies.

6. Do some footwork
Even if you use a travel agent, research the destination before you put the trip in her hands.

Get a good guidebook or three, pick the hotels or resorts yourself, and price airfares and vacation packages online.

Investigate the best deals, then take all your research to the agent and challenge her to beat it.

7. Airfare I: Shop around
Never pay retail for airfare—and don't settle for the fares on the Big Three booking engines (Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia). Use those to discover which airlines fly directly and to determine a baseline price. Then start your bargain hunt. Full Story

Hit the airlines' Web sites, where you can be flexible about departure dates (often saving hundreds of dollars) and find sales that don't show up on the search engines.

Even better, use aggregator Web sites that canvas the entire industry, often including consolidator fares and low-cost airlines that the Big Three skip:, Vayama.comLink,, Cheapflights.comlink,,, Full Story

Also, consider using a consolidator that buys in bulk and passes along some of the savings to you:,, CheapOAir.compartner, OneTravel.comPartner. Full Story

8. Airfare II: Frequent Fliers, it's time to cash in
Finally, a benefit to pricey weddings! Charge the entire shebang to a single credit card linked to a frequent-flier program—either one you already carry or a new one affiliated with the airline you'll be flying for the honeymoon.

Chances are you'll rack up enough miles to score a free plane ticket—hopefully, two!

9. Airfare III: Keep an eye on the sales
Sign up for free e-newsletters that compile the best travel deals weekly: TravelZoo.comPartner,,,, Full Story

10. Time it perfectly
Prices can plummet as much as 50% in the off-season (summer in the tropics, winter in Europe).

At the very least, fly midweek; Wednesday flights are far cheaper than weekend ones (cheapest days to fly: Monday–Thursday and Saturday).

Start planning early, but don't book plane tickets too far in advance or you'll pay top dollar. Wait until six to eight weeks before your departure, when airlines start discounting to fill seats and airfare consolidators lock in their lowest rates. Full Story

» Honeymoon tips 11–25


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This article was last updated in January 2010. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2010 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.