8 Steps to Planning the Perfect Honeymoon

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So all the wedding planning is complete and now it's time to enjoy the big day. Well, even if you still have some planning to do, use this as an opportunity to take a mental vacation and think instead about what comes after the big day: the honeymoon! I consulted one of my favorite travel agents, Christi Rogers of Travel Bug, LLC, as well as a few past brides to help complete this list of simple steps to plan the most amazing honeymoon.

Step 1: Set a budget

No one likes to overspend, so decide upfront how much you are willing to set aside for the honeymoon. This amount will help with decisions such as where you can go and how long you can stay.

Step 2: Find Your Perfect Locale

This may sound easy, but most of us have many different locations we'd like to visit one day, and the bride and groom may have different ideas on what would make the perfect trip. So start with the basics: Do you want to go somewhere warm or cold? Do you want to visit more than one place? What sorts of activities do you want to do once there? Sailing, snorkeling, skiing? Making sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to expectations is an important first step.

Step 3: Think Carefully About the Length of Your Trip

Are you committed to a week off? Two weeks? The length of time opens and closes doors. For example, five days or less makes South Pacific locations like Tahiti a long haul for a short stay. You might want to consider Jamaica, Mexico or Aruba. Have you always wanted to journey across Italy? Plan on at least seven to 10 days. Be sure to include flight times and travel times once you land.

Step 4: Contact a good travel agent and listen to what they have to say

I am (of course) a big fan of consultants, especially with something that has so much potential for impacting your enjoyment level. Travel agents know about destinations and often have visited these places themselves. They can advise you on little details that really make the difference, such as the best airports to travel to, what time of day to travel, which room type you want, even the best off-the-beaten-path spots to go snorkeling.

Your travel agent will listen to your desires and make expert recommendations. For example, you might have your heart set on Jamaica after your October wedding, but he/she will advise you that it’s not the best idea during hurricane season. Thinking about Ft. Lauderdale after your April wedding? Not unless you want to be partying with spring breakers. Summer months on the isles? Maybe look at an adults-only location. A seasoned pro is going to help you think through the pros and cons of dates, locations, and destinations.

Step 5: Consider travel insurance

Christi Rogers explains: "Travel insurance covers the cost of your vacation in case of a covered medical or family emergency, trip delay/interruption, lost/damaged baggage, and most importantly it would cover any medical expenses that you may need to seek while outside of the states. Most U.S. health insurance companies will not recognize claims for medical attention outside the country.

Travel insurance is an additional cost that is non-refundable and always optional. Some companies require that you pay the cost of the insurance along with your initial deposit and others just require it prior to the final payment. The cost usually is determined by the cost of the trip and is usually a per-person rate."

Step 6: Check Your Passport Status

If you are traveling abroad, it's advised your passport be valid up to six months after you return to the United States.

Step 7: Make a decision and secure your arrangements with a deposit

How exciting, you have something to dream about while your planner reviews the state of the wedding budget! You should do this as soon as possible and arrange a "pay as you go" plan to avoid huge balances due around the same time as other wedding expenses. You should secure your travel documents in your maiden name in agreement with your drivers' license and passport.

Step 8: Don't forget to make arrangements for when you’re gone.

We know you’re not going to forget about your pet, but when you’re in the midst of planning a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time, it’s helpful to have a checklist to reference before you go:

  • Pets
  • Plants
  • Stop/hold mail—visit http://www.holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/
  • Home and work voicemail—a full mailbox can signal you are out of the country. Have someone check messages if you think your mailbox could get full.
  • Update email responses
  • Packages: Ask a neighbor to be on the lookout for any packages and take them in for you. Your wedding guests might go online and order your gift the minute they realize they didn't send one before the event!

Other Tips from Brides:

Don't leave the night or day after your wedding. All of your family and friends have come into town to see you, and you'll want to be able to spend time with them and digest the exciting events from the wedding. You'll also want time to make sure all loose ends are tied up with the wedding before you head out for a week or longer.

Allow yourself a day at home before going back to work after the honeymoon. "It was great to have a day in our house to unpack our suitcases, go grocery shopping and just adjust to life not on an island with daily massages," said one bride.

Easy name change: www.missnowmrs.com is a great website that fills out forms to change your name on important documents like your passport, social security card, and more. For $30, it's a great investment in time management.

Hopefully these honeymoon tips are helpful in planning your perfect trip. I enjoyed thinking about sunny spots and a nice breeze while writing them!

Raquel Shutt

Raquel Shutt is the owner of Wedding Savvy Inc., a premier full-service wedding planning company located in Annapolis. For more than 10 years, Wedding Savvy has been featured in many regional publications such as The Knot Magazine, The Washingtonian, and The Capital, as well as featured on We TV’s “Platinum Weddings.” Her firm has been recognized as one of the best by Weddingwire.com and Capital Gazette. Recently, Raquel was named one of Annapolis’ Finest 40 under 40 by Cystic Fibrosis as well as “People to Watch” by The Capital in 2009.