There are few things as important as the first days of married life, but it's no secret that the chaos of wedding planning can often overshadow the honeymoon. Our guide -- with tried and true tips -- will have you saying "I do" to honeymoon planning.
Timing: As the proverb says, timing is everything. If the idea of packing up your suitcase immediately after the wedding doesn't appeal to you, consider traveling a few months after the wedding when the dust has settled.
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Alternately, if you do plan to take an immediate honeymoon, make sure to take your vacation days from work into consideration and check with the human resources department at your workplace to see how many days you have accrued.
Consider Regional Possibilities: If taking an extended honeymoon of a week or longer doesn't quite fit into your respective work schedules, consider a "mini-moon," which packs all the romance and excitement of a honeymoon into a three or four day period.
Consider local options -- if you're a New Yorker, consider a visit upstate to the Finger Lakes for a wine country experience or, for those in smoggy Los Angeles, go to Palm Springs for a relaxing weekend that channels '60s-era glamour. If you long for an exotic vacation on a tight budget, look no further than easy-to-reach spots such as Puerto Rico, for fun in the sun; or Austin, Texas, for soulful music and south-of-the-border flair.
Create a Budget: It's not fun to hash out the money aspect of a honeymoon. Don't underestimate how important designating a honeymoon budget is and be sure to allocate your honeymoon expenses as soon as possible.
Remember that the amount you set aside directly affects where you go, the length of your stay, and your schedule of activities. Take the time to compare airfare, hotel, rental cars, and activity rates when booking a honeymoon. Those expenses, plus overlooked incidentals (such as tips, meals, entrance fees, and baggage charges) can quickly inflate any budget.
Get Your Guests Involved: Scrambling to save for the honeymoon? If so, consider creating a registry for honeymoon funds in lieu of a traditional wedding gift. Online resources like Honey Fund, MyRegistry or PayPal are easy to use for both the newlyweds and wedding guests. After the honeymoon, consider mailing out thank-you cards featuring a picture of the two of you on your fabulous vacation as a sweet gesture your guests will appreciate.
The Experience: Consider your mutual idea of paradise -- does your spouse-to-be like the seclusion of a rustic cabin in Vermont while you'd prefer a week of pampering at a five-star luxury resort in Fiji? Do you think of an eating tour through Italy or an exotic African safari trek as the perfect vacation? Keeping your mutual preferences as a priority -- whether the emphasis is fine dining, museum hopping or wilderness exploring -- will help you plan the perfect honeymoon.