Sometimes wedding planning seems never ending! Between selecting the venue to sending the invitations and purchasing wedding attire, there is a ton on stuff to take care of. Aside from those important details, you also have a honeymoon to plan!
My husband and I honeymooned at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. It was everything we hoped it would be and more. The food was excellent, the staff was superb and the room was quiet and comfortable. I could go on and go about our trip, so I’ll be covering it in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned for that!
There were several things we considered before we booked our honeymoon. I wanted to help future brides and grooms out in planning their special trips, so I decided to make a list of things to consider when planning that first vacation as a married couple!
This is probably the most important thing for you to consider as you plan your honeymoon. Traditionally, the groom’s family is supposed to pay for the honeymoon, but you’ll want to discuss this with both of your families as you determine who will cover certain costs associated with your wedding. Whether you're following traditions or not, no matter who is paying for your honeymoon, you'll want to get an idea of your price range so you know what you can comfortably spend. You'll definitely want keep an eye on airfare and hotel pricing, as these costs often fluctuate and can affect your budget.
2. Type of trip
When you think of your honeymoon, how do you envision it? Do you see yourself at a beachfront hotel? Do you want visit several different places and sail the seas on a cruise? Do you want to take a road trip with your loved one and see lots of cool landmarks? Figure out what you and your future spouse are looking for and then take it from there.
This goes along in part with the type of trip you're looking to book. Is the destination near a major city or is it off the beaten path? Are there things to do and see near by? Do you know anyone who has previously been to the destination you have in mind? Picking the location is probably one of the hardest parts since there's so many options to choose from!
4. Taxi rates/transportation options
Chances are that you're going to want to explore your destination on your own at some point during your honeymoon. Will you be able to rent a car at your destination? How about a scooter or moped? Are taxi rates super expensive? Do a Google search before you book your trip and see what options are available to you and your fiance. You also might want to think about setting up round trip transportation from the airport to the hotel.
5. Activities and excursions available (either on-site at your hotel or off-site)
My absolute favorite thing to do before I go on a vacation is to plan out activities and excurisions. I love to do research beforehand and see if there are fun tours or day trips to go on. Many hotels have a conceige desk and staff members can help you make arrangements for various excursions either offered through the hotel directly or through a third-party. If you're thinking about heading to a tropical destination, consider going on a snorkeling trip to see the nearby reefs or food tour to get a taste of the local flavors.
6. Hotel ratings and reviews
Sites like TripAdvisor make it easier than ever to look at hotel ratings and reviews. Previous hotel guests often leave reviews on hotels they've stayed at to tell future visitors what they can expect if they decide to book a stay. I looked at TripAdvisor reviews religiously when I was trying to decide where my husband and I should spend our honeymoon. Reviews can often clue you in to tips on the hotel such as who the friendliest staff members are and what you can say or do to potentially get a room upgrade.
7. Size and type of hotel
Hotels aren't one in the same. There are several different types - boutique, family, adults only. You'll definitely want to have a conversation with your fiance to see what would work best for the two of you. Are you okay with sharing the beach with little kids or do you want something a bit more intimate? When my husband and I were first looking into honeymoon options, we definitely wanted to be at an adults-only resort like Sandals or Secrets. Eventually we stumbled across the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas and we were sold. We loved all of the photos of the hotel and it looked like the perfect place for us to spend our first week as Mr. and Mrs.
8. Hotel amenities
You're going on your honeymoon, so live it up! Don't forget to check out the amenities offered by each hotel and compare them. See who has early check in, a spa, a gym, room service or beach towel service. You'll want to make a list of what's most important to you and see if you can find a hotel that meets your criteria.
9. Food and Drink
Believe it or not, this is a huge thing to think about when planning your honeymoon. Do you want an all-inclusive hotel that includes all meals and drinks? Are you okay with finding local restaurants and going out to lunch and dinner every day? Try to get an idea of what you're willing to spend on food and drink and make your honeymoon arrangements with that in mind. During our honeymoon, we ate on-site at the Ritz-Carlton every night. We wanted to venture outside of the resort and try a local restaurant or two during our stay, but the restaurants at the hotel were just too dang good!
10. Duration of your stay
You only go on one honeymoon, so you'll want to figure out just how long your trip should be. It's not uncommon to take anywhere from one to two weeks off to celebrate your marriage. My husband and I ended up staying in St. Thomas for a week, but sometimes we wish that we would have stayed longer! Be sure to take adequate time to decompress and relax after the wedding! You spent a number of months planning everything from the ceremony to the reception, so you're going to want all the R&R you can get!
11. Flight schedule and total travel time to get to and from your destination
How many hours are you willing to spend on an airplane to get to your honeymoon destination? Are you the type of couple that doesn't mind spending over 15 hours on a plane on the way to Bora Bora? Or do you prefer to fly four hours to Mexico? Picking the perfect honeymoon will definitely depend on flight schedules and how long it'll take you to get from point A to point B.
12. Honeymoon benefits offered by the hotel
Several hotels offer special packages or benefits if you let them know that the reason for your stay is to celebrate your honeymoon. Offers may range from spa credits to rose petals and champagne and strawberries left in your room for you to discover upon your arrival. If you have a hotel in mind but you're not sure if they do anything special for guests who are celebrating their honeymoon, check their website. If nothing is listed, feel free to send an email to the hotel. Most places are happy to make special arrangements and put a surprise in your room to make your stay extra memorable.
13. Safe area
Staying in a safe place is a must! If you decide to stay in a place that's more off the beaten path, be sure to do your research beforehand and make sure that you and your honey won't encounter any bad situations. Although many resorts are safe, if you decide to go out and explore the area on your own, just be aware of your surroundings.
14. How you want to book your trip
As you start to narrow down your options, you should weigh the pros and cons of booking through a travel agent, the hotel itself or through a third-party booking site. Travel agents tend to have good contacts at hotels and they can often negotiate extra amenities for you during your honeymoon stay. If you decide to book through the hotel itself, you can often earn rewards points that can be redeemed for things such as future stays. Lastly, if you decide to book through a third-party site, keep an eye out for price match guarantees.
Protip: We booked our honeymoon through Expedia and I saved over $300 on my trip by finding a lower price offered through Travelocity less than 24 hours after booking. All I had to do was fill out a claim and Expedia refunded me the difference, PLUS they gave me a $50 voucher to use toward a future hotel booking. How sweet is that?!
Now that you have a list of things to think about before booking your honeymoon, you should be ready to get the ball rolling and start looking into trip options! No matter where you end up going, you'll have an amazing time with your spouse! Just be sure to soak everything in and take lots of pictures. The memories you make during your first vacation as Mr. and Mrs. will be priceless.
Where is your dream honeymoon destination? Or, where did you spend your honeymoon? Tell me in the comments below!