Over The Moon, Under The Budget

By Kristen Castillo

January 20, 2015 5 min read

After the whirlwind of wedding planning and the big day itself, as newlyweds, you look forward to relaxing on your honeymoon.

According to a survey by XO Group Inc., the parent company of wedding resource The Knot, three in four couples take a honeymoon.

The itinerary? Maybe a beach getaway, sightseeing in a foreign city or hiking through a rain forest. Whatever the ideal honeymoon, chances are it's expensive, especially if you just paid for a wedding.

That's what happened to bride Christina Yumul and her groom, Mark Weiss. After their May 2011 destination wedding in San Diego, the couple, who live in Maui, couldn't afford the honeymoon they really wanted.

While they did a two-day staycation in Hawaii's Big Island after their wedding, the couple wanted a European honeymoon.

Instead of forgetting about their dream getaway, the couple saved up and took the trip in October 2013.

"My husband and I wanted to go somewhere completely different, so we decided to save up and spend a month in Europe," she says. "One week in Paris, two weeks in Italy, one week in Prague and one week in Switzerland."

Saving up for two years was worth it, she says, because they didn't want to be budget-minded once they arrived at their destination.

"You only go on a honeymoon once, so why not wait to do it right with no restraint?" Yumul says.

*Planning Timeline

The extra time between the wedding and the honeymoon allows you to budget for expenses without lots of stress or financial pressure.

Yumul and Weiss, for example, each saved $50 a week and then deposited that collective $100 into a bank account designated as "trip savings." The couple also stashed away spare change into their vacation fund.

"Because we had two years to plan, the expenses didn't come at once," says Yumul, who explains they booked their plane tickets a year before the honeymoon and then, a few months later, paid in advance for their hotels.

"By the time we arrived in Europe, the only expenses we had left were our food and the attractions," she says. "Plus, since we had saved up for it, by the time the credit card bills came at the end of the honeymoon, we were able to pay it off immediately. It wasn't a debt that lurked and followed us."

*Savings Strategies

Delaying your honeymoon can seem unnerving at first, but it's a cost-conscious way to have a nice trip without going broke.

"Honeymoons should only be paid in cash," says Barry Choi, budget travel expert from Moneywehave.com. "It's OK to charge your honeymoon to credit if you're paying off the full balance every month, but the last thing you want to do is to be paying interest charges long after you've returned home."

Choi also recommends being smart about your credit card use, especially if it means earning travel rewards. Imagine paying for your wedding cake and your gown, for example, with a credit card that gives you bonuses.

"As your wedding expenses come up, charge everything to this card, and you'll quickly accumulate a ton of points," Choi says. "You could end up with enough points to book a free flight or at the very least get a few nights free at a hotel."

*Visualize Your Vacation

Think about your dream trip. Where would you like to go? Beach, desert, urban locales? What do you want to do? Relax? Sightsee? Enjoy gourmet meals?

If money matters, Choi suggests setting a budget before you select a destination.

"The reason I suggest this is so you have a number that you're comfortable with and you can start saving for that goal," he says. "Many couples pick a destination first and fall in love with it. When they realize it's out of their budget, some just charge it to credit, which is the last thing you want to do. By setting a budget first, you're picking a destination based on what you can really afford."

Here's a budgeting example from Choi: With a $6,000 budget and two years to plan for the honeymoon, you'll need to save $250 a month; with only one year to budget, you'll need to set aside $500 a month.

No matter where or when you have your honeymoon, make sure it's fun and affordable.

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