How To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 4: The Honeymoon

Wedding Week on How To Not Suck rolls on down the aisle. We’ve already covered the big expenses, the stuff you pay too much for, and the pricey little extras. Today, it’s time to start thinking about that big post-wedding expense.

Once the big day is over and the marriage certificate is signed, you and your new spouse may head out on a new adventure — your honeymoon.

Here are our tips on how to not suck at planning your honeymoon.

START EARLY
Sometimes you can get great deals on travel by waiting until the last minute to book, but there’s no guarantee that will pan out and you don’t want to take that chance with your honeymoon. Start the planning for your trip as soon as you start planning the actual wedding. Getting an early start will give you time to shop around, compare airline ticket prices and hotel deals.

DECIDE TOGETHER
While your spouse many not have cared much about wedding cake topper or table centerpieces for your wedding day, he or she is sure to care about where you spend your first vacation as a married couple.

You should each make a list of where you want to go, and then compromise to find a place that will please you both. If one of you wants to be a tourist and walk around and shop, while the other wants to sit on a beach, look for destinations that will give you a little bit of both.

And remember — you’re likely to be exhausted at least for the first leg of your honeymoon, so take that into consideration when you plan.

SET A BUDGET
You don’t want to spend the first several years of your marriage paying off an extravagant honeymoon. Not that there’s anything wrong with a gonzo trip, but first, make sure you can afford it.

When you budget, remember the extras, such as scuba diving on your island vacation, or shopping and attraction entrance fees if you’re heading to a city destination.

Try the budget tools at Honeymoon.com and ThePlunge.com for help.

TALK TO A TRAVEL AGENT
There are plenty of online tools that will help you DIY for your honeymoon plans, but you may find a travel agent will be helpful with package deals and just making sure that nothing gets messed up for this special trip.

A travel agent’s experience and access to deals may help you save money on the extras, too, and give you a resource should something go wrong while you’re traveling.

USE CREDIT CARD REWARDS
Call your credit card rewards program and see if you can use your points to book travel. Of course, points often come with lots of travel restrictions, but you won’t know until you ask.

If your card offers something that will help pay the cost of the trip, think about charging a bunch of your wedding costs to boost your points in time for the honeymoon. Just make sure you don’t give yourself a lingering balance that will cost you more in interest if you can’t pay it off quickly.

TELL EVERYONE YOU’RE ON YOUR HONEYMOON
Just about every resort or hotel offers special packages for newlyweds, so now is the time to shout from the rooftops that you’re getting married. Even if you don’t choose the honeymoon suite, those who know you’re newly hitched may offer free champagne, a free massage, a special romantic dinner — but you won’t know what’s out there until you ask. And don’t just talk about your “just married” status when you book — make sure hotel management, waiters, everyone knows when you’re at your destination.

And when you book your trip — especially if it’s in another country or on a cruise — make sure you request a double bed.

DON’T LEAVE TOO EARLY
While it might seem like a good idea to get on a sunrise flight so you have more time on your vacation, there’s a good chance you’re going to be bushed after your special day. If you have the time, wait a day before you leave, or instead go for an afternoon flight. You don’t want to start your trip without the energy to enjoy it.

THE PAPERWORK
Make sure you’re early to get or renew your passport if you’re traveling overseas. If you save this for the last minute, you’ll have to pay a bundle to expedite things. Also check to see if you need a visa or certain immunizations to visit certain locations.

BOOK USING THE CORRECT NAMES
While you may be looking forward to using “Mr. and Mrs.” for reservations, that could be a big mistake. You’re probably not going to have time to change your identification to your married name before you travel, so it makes more sense to book your airline tickets and other reservations in your pre-married names.

CONSIDER TRAVEL INSURANCE
A honeymoon may be special, but it’s not special to the gods of travel disaster. That may make travel insurance well worth the extra cost.

Some policies that cover medical issues only may be too limited for your needs. For a few extra bucks, look for insurance that will cover a cancellation for “any reason,” just in case.

THINK ABOUT A HONEYMOON REGISTRY
If you won’t have a lot of extra cash for a honeymoon after paying all those wedding expenses, consider a honeymoon registry. Your guests could donate cash as a wedding gift, but it will go to an account that’s earmarked for the honeymoon.

Before you sign on, make sure you understand how the registry works and any pitfalls that could happen.

CONFIRM DIRECTLY
Whether you use a travel agent or book all your reservations online, take the time to call the travel providers directly to confirm that everything is set in stone. This is also a good time to ask about upgrades or other discounts for honeymooners.

EXPECT IMPERFECTION
No matter how well you plan your trip, something will probably go wrong. Hopefully it’s nothing more than moderate sunburn or a one-night bout with food poisoning. Keep your sense of humor, and remember you’re creating memories — however crazy — that you’ll laugh about someday, and maybe even share with your grandkids.

Wedding Week comes to a glorious conclusion tomorrow with advice on how to spend any money you receive as a gift from wedding guests.

Have a topic you’d like to see covered in How To Not Suck? Or maybe you’re an expert who would like to share your insight with Consumerist readers? Send us a note at notsuck@consumerist.com.

You can read Karin Price Mueller’s stories for The Star-Ledger at NJ.com, follow her on Facebook, and on Twitter @kpmueller.

PREVIOUSLY ON HOW TO NOT SUCK:
How To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 3: The Costly Little Extras
How To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 2: The Stuff People Pay Too Much For
How To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 1: The Most Expensive Steps
How To Not Suck… At Teaching Your Kids About Money
How To Not Suck… At Valentine’s Day Gifts
How To Not Suck… At Merging Your Money When You Marry
How To Not Suck… At Borrowing For College
How To Not Suck… At Saving For College
How To Not Suck… At Pre-Paying For Your Funeral
How To Not Suck… At Making Financial New Year’s Resolutions
How To Not Suck… At Last-Minute Christmas Gifting
How To Not Suck… At Saving For The Holidays
How To Not Suck… At Charitable Giving
How To Not Suck… At Disputing Credit Report Errors
How To Not Suck… At Lowering Your Utility Bills
How To Not Suck… At Home Inspections
How To Not Suck… At Understanding Credit Card Rewards
How To Not Suck… At Getting Ready For Tax Season
How To Not Suck… At Picking A Retirement Plan
How To Not Suck… At Deciding When To DIY
How To Not Suck… At Getting Out Of Debt
How To Not Suck… At First Year College Budgets

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