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Expert Shares Top Honeymoon Planning Tips (Exclusive) – PEOPLE

5 minutes, 46 seconds Read

In a growing trend, more couples are skimping on their wedding budgets to instead splurge on what comes after their big day — the honeymoon.

A new survey from the honeymoon registry site Honeyfund reveals that people are spending more on their honeymoon relative to their wedding than ever before, with a 2:1 ratio instead of 10:1.

Sara Margulis, CEO of Honeyfund, tells PEOPLE there are several factors driving the surprising shift. One of them is a pent-up desire to travel after lots of time spent cooped up at home amid the pandemic.

“The longing to travel and explore the world with one’s partner has never been stronger,” she says. “It’s like we’ve all been reminded how precious those shared experiences are.”

Brides and grooms are also prioritizing experiences over material things more than ever before — and that includes an adventure-filled honeymoon. “Couples are realizing that the memories made during a once-in-a-lifetime trip beat out the flashiest of weddings,” Margulis explains. “It’s all about capturing those moments that you’ll talk about for years — and revisit in your Instagram feed.”

Another undeniable factor is the increasingly steep cost of throwing a wedding today. “The financial aspect can’t be ignored. Weddings are expensive, and when you look at the numbers, it can be a bit of a wake-up call,” Margulis tells PEOPLE. “Couples are thinking, ‘Where do we really want to put our money?’ And with prices being what they are, it’s no surprise many decide on a more intimate wedding that allows for a dream honeymoon.”

To help couples make the most of their honeymoon budget and ensure their dream post-wedding trip goes off without a hitch, Margulis shares her top planning tips.

Consider a honeymoon registry

While Margulis says it used to be “taboo” or bad etiquette to ask for money as a wedding gift, that attitude has changed. These days, creating a honeymoon fund and asking people to contribute is not only acceptable but embraced by guests.

“Honeyfunds are a way for friends and family to give a gift that’s not just about experiences but also about supporting the couple through happily ever after,” she notes, adding, “Our research shows that couples who take a honeymoon together are more likely to be happily married more than a decade later.”

Make sure your passport is in order

Don’t forget your passport — whether you need to sort out a renewal or remember where you stored it.

“It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many couples scramble last minute to get this in order. Start early to avoid stress,” Margulis advises. “Trust me, dealing with passport panic is not a great pre-wedding or honeymoon activity.”

She also suggests waiting until after your trip to do an official name change on your passport. “If you plan to change your last name after marriage, deal with all that when you get back from your honeymoon. Travel with your given name,” she says.

A stock image of a couple on vacation.

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Bring the essentials

When you’re making your packing list, you might be tempted to focus on the fun stuff — like that new swimsuit you just bought or the stack of books you plan to dig into while relaxing on the beach. But there are a lot of small essentials — from sunscreen to bug spray — to remember to tuck into your suitcase that will not only make your trip more comfortable but also save you money.

“It’s easy to forget these essentials, but remembering them can save you from inflated resort prices and discomfort during what should be the most enjoyable moments of your honeymoon,” Margulis tells PEOPLE.

Check the weather outlook before making your plans

As you’re exploring potential honeymoon spots and putting your trip details together, be sure to look up the forecast for your destination and specific travel dates.

“You don’t want to be caught off guard by a rainy season or a heatwave,” says Margulis. “A little research goes a long way in ensuring you pack appropriately and plan activities that make sense for the climate.”

Book your activities in advance

The point of a honeymoon is to kick back and relax after the stress of wedding planning. So you don’t want to arrive at your destination and have the pressure of arranging your itinerary on the spot.

Also, as Margulis points out, “activities, tours and excursions often require booking in advance. Waiting until the last minute might mean missing out on that dream snorkeling trip, museum or wine tour.”

A stock photo of a couple relaxing by the water.

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Don’t overschedule your days

Sure, it’s tempting to want to make the most of your time in an incredible destination like Italy or Hawaii. But Margulis says it’s important to work in some downtime and not overpack your schedule where you’re on the go the whole time.

“Your honeymoon is a rare chance to relax and connect with your partner without the distractions of daily life. Embrace it!” she urges.

Save extra funds for the unexpected

Even if you have your honeymoon planned out to the smallest of details, spontaneity is the spice of life. Make sure to leave room in your budget for special little extras along the way.

“From small things like spontaneous bottles of champagne to an unexpected hotel room upgrade, the ‘just in case’ fund may lead to the most cherished memories,” Margulis says.

Consider a honeymoon package

While some couples might prefer the freedom of curating their own trip, others embrace the convenience of having all the details taken care of with a honeymoon package.

“For couples looking for a relaxing, ‘have everything at their fingertips’ experience, all-inclusive resorts can actually be a great deal. Everything is taken care of, from meals to activities, and you can often find packages that make luxury more affordable,” Margulis says.

“And it’s worth noting that while the upfront cost might seem higher, all-inclusives often end up being more economical, especially in destinations where the cost of living is high,” she adds.

A stock photo of a couple walking outside.

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Start planning early

Margulis advises brides and grooms to start planning their honeymoon as soon as they’ve booked their wedding venue — and before they do any more wedding planning — ideally 12 months in advance of their trip.

“It’s not only practical for snagging the best deals and ensuring everything is booked, but it also makes wedding planning more exciting,” she says. “Knowing you have an amazing trip on the horizon can be a joyful motivator through the busy wedding prep.”

“Early planning means less stress and more time dreaming up your perfect getaway together,” she adds, noting, “Some things like tours and internal transfers will need to be booked closer to the travel dates, but those items on your to-do list will be a welcome respite from the hectic wedding planning phase.”

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