Planning Your Own Honeymoon

Planning you own wedding and honeymoon simultaneously isn’t for the faint of heart.

There’s a reason why cruises and all-inclusives are popular choices for newlyweds. Planning a wedding is hard. The to-do lists are long. The logistics are maddening. Budgets can be scary. Things can get stressful quickly. Add planning a honeymoon on top of that? It can get tricky.

We’re still in the middle of it all, but I’ve learned some things along the way that I thought might be helpful to other couples.

Start Early

I know I give this advice all the time. I probably sound like a broken record, but more time to research and plan gives you the best chance of finding what you want. Make a list of all the places you both dream of going to and start narrowing it down from there. Make a budget. Do your research to see what's actually feasible. 

Know Thyself

Please, please, please take a honeymoon that suits you as a couple. If that means hiking and camping, do it. If that means going to an all-inclusive, do it. If that means taking a mini-moon somewhere nearby, do it. The honeymoon you want is the right honeymoon..

 image:  Ales Krivec

There’s a (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek term I’ve come across a lot during our engagement: the Wedding Industrial Complex (or WIC). It refers to the people and things that make couples feel like they have to have, spend, or do to have a “real” wedding. Some examples are: personalized favours, a tiered cake, or an overpriced tulle veil.

I’d say that honeymoons are also a big part of the WIC.  There is a lot of focus on them being extravagant, exotic, incredibly romantic and, by extension of all of that, expensive! There are agencies that specialize in honeymoons. Hotels and resorts often have exorbitant packages available. Multiple honeymoon registries allow couples to ask  wedding guests to help fund their trip. 

There’s nothing wrong with using those tools (although I'm not convinced the honeymoon registries aren't tacky) or going to an all-inclusive or doing a "typical" honeymoon, but don’t feel pressured to do that if it’s not how you like to travel. 

Keep It Simple

Don’t try to go too many places or see too many things. Don’t pack your honeymoon with lots of travel from place to place. Maximize your days together and your relaxation time as much as you can. The one piece of advice that keeps coming back to me from other couples is that you will likely be exhausted for the first few days after your wedding. The point of the honeymoon isn’t to rack up a list of things you’ve seen, it’s to enjoy your time together as newlyweds. 

Our Experience So Far

I started bringing up the honeymoon pretty soon after we got engaged. As excited as I was about the wedding, I was roughly 1500 times more excited about the honeymoon! We talked a lot about the different places we wanted to go. Tahiti! Hawaii! Normandy! Italy! Japan! Spain! As you can see, we were all over the place.

I made lists. I made mock budgets. I did a ton of research. I looked at what felt like countless rentals and hotels. 

The options felt endless and the stakes felt higher than other trips. You only get one honeymoon and I wanted it to be perfect. My excitement plummeted and I got frustrated. Should we just do an all-inclusive?

At some point, after banging my head on the desk a few times and maybe a couple of tears, I realized I was being silly. We started at the beginning. We decided on Europe and were able narrow our options to three different trips. Two of them were to places neither of us had been. One was the Amalfi Coast. The other was Barcelona and Collioure in France. Those both seemed like they would be wonderful trips, but the rentals and logistics never worked out for us. I was really reluctant to let go of Amalfi because it’s such an iconic honeymoon spot. Would we regret it? I mean, look at this place:

In the end, we decided to start off somewhere easy and comfortable. Villefranche-sur-Mer was a natural choice. S has been wanting to go there since we started dating and I’m already comfortable with the town. It has the relaxed feel that I think we’ll need right after our wedding. We can wander down to the beach everyday and lay there for hours on end. There are enough restaurants and shops to keep us fat and happy. We wouldn’t have to go anywhere, but we also have the option of hopping on the train and exploring the coast if the mood strikes us.

 Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villefranche-sur-Mer

After that, we’ll head to the Gard department of Languedoc region. It will be new for the both of us, which will make it special to explore together. We’re also lucky because we’re close enough to Provence to do some day trips into the beautiful Luberon hill towns, but we’re not paying Provence prices. 

I don't have the perspective to look back and say if the extra work of doing it ourselves was worth it, yet. I don't think this way is any better than another way, but I do feel like it's very us. And that's what was most important all along. Now that everything is booked, we feel like we have the honeymoon we wanted waiting for us. It took some time to get there, but we couldn’t be more excited.

After that, we’ll head to the Gard department of Languedoc region. It will be new for the both of us, which will make it special to explore together. We’re also lucky because we’re close enough to Provence to do some day trips into the beautiful Luberon hill towns, but we’re not paying Provence prices. 

I don't have the perspective to look back and say if the extra work of doing it ourselves was worth it, yet. I don't think this way is any better than another way, but I do feel like it's very us. And that's what was most important all along. Now that everything is booked, we feel like we have the honeymoon we wanted waiting for us. It took some time to get there, but we couldn’t be more excited.