So, you’re getting married! Congratulations!
That moment you get engaged to the person of your dreams you start thinking about the dress, flowers, church, reception, hair and make-up, bridal party, bridal shower or kitchen tea, hens night out and all of those wonderful things that are needed to plan the perfect wedding, but….
Have you thought about the honeymoon already?
After travelling to over 35 countries (and my future husband travelling to over 40 countries!), booking the honeymoon and deciding where to go was one of the most important (and exciting!) things to do!
Today on the blog I am hoping to be of assistance to those who are currently planning their honeymoon or really just want to plan a romantic trip away with their spouse!
A lot of the things in this post are the things I have learnt through the process of booking my own honeymoon and I hope these will help you with planning yours!
Step by Step Guide on How YOU can PLAN an EPIC HONEYMOON
Step 1: Secure your wedding date FIRST, before you start booking your honeymoon
My advice for couples who are planning to go on their honeymoon after their wedding is once you have secured your wedding date, then book your honeymoon. I know of many couples that get very excited they are getting married, so they book their honeymoon straight away, and then realise they are unable to secure a wedding date close enough. When you secure your wedding date first, you then know the exact dates and time period in which you can be away for your honeymoon. Then again, if you’re planning your honeymoon some months after your wedding, then you can book whenever you like!
The time of year can greatly affect where you decide to go for your honeymoon. For example, in Australia if my husband and I had been married in December (our Summer), it would have been a ghost town in Oia, Santorini (where we wanted to go), as it is purely a Summer destination and over the cold Winter months there are not many places open and very few people around, so we got married in August and were able to travel to Greece during their Summer/Autumn season while the weather was still gorgeous! We were after a Summer destination that was warm and relaxing.
Step 2: Allow a few days to spend together after your wedding BEFORE you go on your honeymoon
Once you have locked in your wedding date, make sure you leave a few days to spend in a hotel room in your city (or in your own place) to “recover” and spend some much needed time together BEFORE you go on your honeymoon.
There is nothing worse than turning up to the airport early when you are tired and exhausted from your wedding day the day before. Allow some time to actually enjoy each other and unwind from the big day before your embark on your adventure together.
WHAT WE DID:
My husband and I stayed two nights at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney and by far it is one of the fanciest hotels we have ever stayed at! We requested a corner Premier Grand Harbour view room where we had a view of not only the Sydney Opera House but also the Sydney Harbour bridge! (pictured above). We were both so happy we decided to spend the money on something so special for our wedding night.
We then headed back to our little granny flat for one night after that so we could relax and finish packing our bags, making sure we had packed everything ready for our honeymoon.
Step 3: Get out your world map and discuss
If you have no idea where you want to go on your honeymoon, get out the world map or do a Google search for “honeymoon destinations” and list the destinations you would LOVE to go to (either domestic or international).
Don’t think just yet about how much it will cost because you only do a great honeymoon once, and it is better that you both go somewhere you absolutely love!
WHAT WE DID:
There are endless choices for honeymoon destinations all over the world, but my husband and I already knew exactly where we wanted to go. The step above is a guide if you find you are stuck and can’t decide where to go, but if you know exactly where you want to go just like we did, then skip this step and the next one!
Step 4: Narrow down your list to your Top 3 and pick one!
Once you have written a list of places you would like to go to on your honeymoon, narrow down your choices to your top three travel destinations and pick one! The travel destination you choose for your honeymoon is entirely based on your personal preferences; it’s your honeymoon so you can go wherever you want to.
You may decide to splurge on your honeymoon and book a heavenly and entirely romantic stay somewhere incredible like the Maldives (my brother and sister-in-law did that!) OR you may decide to keep to a specific budget and have a bit of both worlds. There are so many things that can influence your decisions of where to go, but make sure you go somewhere you really would like to go, don’t settle for less than what you want!
but if you really cannot choose a destination…
do some research into your top three destinations, and see if those places have what you’re looking for. If it’s the money you are worried about, then don’t worry! There is always a way to book a honeymoon where you won’t break the bank! Research and put together some cost comparisons to help narrow your search.
WHAT WE DID:
We had the best of both worlds; we decided to go to Greece, a country we both had always desired to go for our honeymoon. I had heard that the town of Oia in Santorini was VERY expensive to stay so I did my research on quite a few hotels and discovered this was definitely true!
In the end I tried researching on Airbnb and found the perfect cave house that came with its own private terrace and jacuzzi which was absolutely perfect for us! (pictured below). For this part of our honeymoon, we splurged, and it is very healthy to have a splurge part of the trip (its your honeymoon and you deserve it!). For the rest of our adventures around the Greek islands, we booked budget Airbnb apartments and still had an incredible time away! Decide what works best for you.
Step 5: Decide how long you want to be away for
Discuss and decide with your partner how long you want to be away for on your honeymoon. Think about this together and dream a little; on an ideal honeymoon for the both of you, how long would you really like to be away for?
Ideally, I think a week is too short as it goes so quickly! I think ten days up to two weeks is ample amount of time to unwind, relax and spend some quality time together.
Again, how long you want to be away is up to your personal preferences, or how long work will allow you to be away. I know of some couples are able to embark upon a 3-6 month honeymoon and other couples only have enough time to go away for 10 days maximum because that is how long work will allow.
WHAT WE DID:
We decided to go away for approximately three weeks. We both worked casual jobs at the time so we were able to easily get time off from work and go on our honeymoon for a time that wasn’t too short or too long (although coming back to reality after the honeymoon, we were still wishing we were away!).
Step 6: Research!
Now that you’ve decided where you’re going and how long for, it’s time to research everything there is know about your chosen honeymoon destination.
Some ideas to start your honeymoon destination research:
- Flight costs: I personally use Skyscanner for cost comparisons from multiples airlines
- Flight PRICE MATCH: If you book a flight through Qantas directly and you see the same exact flights with the same dates, times and Qantas flight numbers at a lesser price on another website, you can submit a form for a price match and get a refund of the difference.
- Internal flights: We were travelling between islands in Greece, so we took quite a few internal flights! If you do your research on local budget airlines, you might find yourself a cheap deal!
- Whether you want to stay in the same place for the duration of your honeymoon or you want to move from place to place and explore more of the country: Maybe you have your heart set on an overwater bungalow in the Maldives and that’s all you want to do! On the other hand, you may want to spend a few days exploring the main town of Malé, and THEN go to your overwater bungalow. We decided that in Greece, we wanted to explore the capital city of Athens for a few days and then spend the rest of the time island hopping.
- Things to see and things to do: Talk with your partner about what activities (if any!) that you would like to do while you’re away. I know most couples on their honeymoon decide to relax and enjoy the surroundings, while others like to get out there and do things! We had a mixture of sightseeing, relaxing and swimming on our honeymoon which was the perfect balance! It really is up to you!
- Accommodation: Research where you want to stay and what type of accommodation suits you. Be aware that some hotels can be quite expensive depending on the destination and time period you are going. Make sure you always READ THE REVIEWS on any accommodation before booking so you know exactly what you’re going to get! On Airbnb, I can honestly say you will be surprised at what you will find for accommodation. We stayed at a really lovely apartment on Kefalonia Island with a stunning view of the city (pictured below). If you are going somewhere tropical/beach/warm on your honeymoon you might want to consider if the Airbnb apartment has air conditioning, and good wifi. My husband and I spent lots of days relaxing at the beach and coming back to our accommodation to make use of the free wifi and watch movies on Netflix. Again, it’s entirely up to you and what kind of honeymoon you want.
- Public Transport (if applicable): To travel between the Greek Islands we had to take the ferry, and found it very useful to have research various ferry companies and their prices before going away. Some of the ferries we booked in advance to save time (and hassle!) while we were away.
- Weather: Make sure you research the time of year you are travelling on your honeymoon and what the weather will be like, it will help give you an idea of what things to pack in your luggage! We were in Greece in September, so it was at the end of the Summer period but still really hot!
Step 7: Budget
Assuming you have already discussed with your partner about a rough wedding budget, please also consider a budget for your honeymoon! I see time and time again many couples who spend a hefty amount of money on the wedding day and realise that they do not have much left over for their honeymoon.
In my opinion, as much as the wedding day is wonderfully special and intimate, I think the honeymoon is equally as important. I believe spending that quality time together alone on your honeymoon is vitally important to start building your marriage.
WHAT WE DID:
My husband and I budgeted around $10K AUD for our honeymoon for three weeks in Greece. We allowed ourselves to splurge on one particular accommodation (a cave house in Santorini!), and then budgeted our accommodation and food expenses on the other islands (using Airbnb and finding cheap eats on Trip Advisor!).
Step 8: Create a Draft Itinerary
Now that you have your honeymoon destination, duration and you have researched so much your brain is fried, it is now time to create your first draft trip itinerary!
Create a draft trip itinerary inclusive of a departure and arrival timeline, flights, location e.g. Athens or Santorini, where you are staying, public transport (if applicable), important notes, costs and your honeymoon budget, activities and any other important things you want to add.
WHAT WE DID:
My husband likes to use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for everything, including both our wedding and our honeymoon itinerary. It was a very easy way to organise everything, especially when we were calculating our costs along the way.
Here is a screenshot of our honeymoon trip itinerary in Microsoft Excel:
Step 9: Check your passport!
Ladies, it is much easier to go on your honeymoon in your maiden name, if you are later planning to change your name to his surname. Getting your name changed on your passport before the wedding can be a hassle, especially when you have a million other things to think about with the wedding day.
Make sure your maiden name is on the plane tickets, it HAS TO match your passport! Also make sure you check that your passport has more than six months left until expiry, otherwise you may not be able to travel!
Step 10: Book your honeymoon in advance
Make sure you plan and book your honeymoon in advance.
On our honeymoon in Greece we had to book our cave house in Oia, Santorini 6 months in advance! Due to Oia being one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world, the hotels and especially Airbnb apartments book up very quickly!
Book at least your flights and “splurge” accommodation well in advance so you don’t miss out!
Step 11: Do NOT book too many activities
When you start researching for your honeymoon, you end up finding all of these amazing things to see and do, and you are so overcome with excitement that you just want to do them all! STOP! BREATHE!
My advice is that although sightseeing and doing fun activities is amazing when travelling, do them in moderation on your honeymoon. My husband and I went jet skiing one day of our honeymoon and as we drove around the islands we stopped when we wanted to and took time to take in the beautiful sights without feeling exhausted or rushed!
In my opinion, a honeymoon is a time to unwind from the wedding and enjoy doing nothing and not having to think about a wedding anymore! You can still book activities and new experiences with your spouse, but make sure to keep them to a minimum. There’s nothing worse than coming back from your honeymoon and you’re exhausted!
Step 12: Honeymoon = Bragging Rights!
BRAG about being on your honeymoon when you are on your honeymoon, you will get the oohs and aaahs PLUS you will (hopefully!) get the royal treatment! It could come in the form of an upgrade or special discounts, who knows! The possibilities are endless!
We received a small dessert (a very yummy cake!) in the Sydney Qantas First Class international Lounge on the house to congratulate us and celebrate our honeymoon! It was a wonderful way to start our epic trip to the Greek Islands!
Step 13: Surprise your spouse with something special…
Your honeymoon is the perfect time to focus on each other, and that includes in the bedroom! It doesn’t hurt to but something special (and a little sexy!) to surprise your new spouse!
Step 14: Relax!
Okay, reading all of this information is exciting/overwhelming/#icantbelieveimgettingmarried
Take a deep breath and remember, your honeymoon is what you make of it and it is important that the focus stays on the two of you enjoying time spent together.
While you are on your honeymoon, don’t think about what you have to do when you get home, or dreading the thought of going back to work (even though it can be super difficult, I know my mind went there a few times while we were away!). Clear your mind, and focus on relaxing and enjoying your time with your spouse.
Step 15: Enjoy!
Have the most wonderful time on your honeymoon! You deserve this special time away with your spouse, it is definitely the greatest start to married life.
Over to you!
Have you already planned out your honeymoon? Where in the world are you going? OR Have you already been on your honeymoon and can share some pearls of wisdom for those who are planning?
Leave a comment below!
P.S I do very much appreciate feedback on on my blog, so if you enjoyed this post and found it helpful in any way, then please leave a comment below and share this post with someone who is needing that honeymoon planning guidance!