When my grandpa remarried a few years after my grandma passed away, we held a simple ceremony in our backyard. Both in their late 70s, drawing on social security, and living off their retirement funds, neither wanted, nor could afford, anything lavish. So, after cutting the cake, the newlyweds kissed us all goodbye and drove to Calgary to “see the stampede.” Though their honeymoon destination seemed lackluster to me at the time, I remember my grandfather being most happy to simply have a new traveling companion. That’s when I realized that where you go on your honeymoon isn’t nearly as important as with whom you start the journey.
If you are getting married and similarly need to keep costs down, below are seven ways to save money on your honeymoon.
1. Hide out at home. Before you roll your eyes at the staycation suggestion, consider this twist. Post a “Do not disturb” sign on the front door, disconnect the phone, add an “out of office” auto-reply to your email, and tell friends and family that you’re away. Then stay home and catch up on movies you recorded, read a book in the backyard, or check out local tourist attractions that you’ve always been too busy to visit. You can even order “room service” via restaurants that deliver.
2. Put some miles on your marriage. Skip the cost of airfare and honeymoon within driving distance. But don’t just throw your things in the car. Plan a romantic road trip, complete with a playlist of “your songs” to listen to, a picnic basket for a roadside lunch, and a map of scenic back roads. As you embark on your journey together (both literally and figuratively), detour off the freeway and take your time.
3. Wait ‘til the last minute. While it’s true that booking travel early will net you good prices for your ideal dates and locations, waiting until the last minute could save you even more. If you can handle a little spontaneity en route to walking down the aisle, being flexible on the date you leave and the destination you visit will expand the list of affordable honeymoon possibilities. On travel sites like Expedia.com, you’ll find deep discounts on getaways that must be booked and used in the near future. Save up money while waiting for your travel window to open, and then buy a bargain that fits your schedule is announced.
4. Use your cards. Open a travel-related credit card and use it for all of your wedding expenses. As you pay for the dress, the cake, and the caterer, you’ll be racking up airline miles to use for the honeymoon. With bonus miles frequently awarded after an initial purchase, you may quickly earn enough miles to cover airfare simply by using the card to buy your bouquet.
5. Get others to pitch in. Register for sites like Honeyfund.com and Group Gifts on GiftCards.com instead of (or in addition to) the typical bridal gift registry. Friends and family may prefer to help pay for your once-in-a-lifetime memory instead of a new toaster.
6. Trade spaces. Rather than pay for a hotel, swap houses with someone you know. In addition to saving money on accommodations, having access to a kitchen could keep meal expenses down as well. Some swappers will even include the use of a car. Is your ex-roommate from New York coming to the bay area for your wedding? Let her stay at your place after the ceremony while you take a trip to hers. Ask your Facebook friends (the real ones) if they have vacation plans and need a free house sitter. If you can’t find someone you know to swap with, try websites like Intervac.com for a trade or Homeaway.com for a house you can use without giving up your own.
7. Bundle up. If you have time to research and dig around for deals on everything from airfare and luggage to restaurants and attractions, then coupon sites are a must. But with so many to choose from, how can you save money without wasting time? The key is to combine. At MyCoupons.com, for example, you can find online coupons plus discount gift cards for the same retailers. Stack the two together and you’ll increase the amount you save. Deals from Groupon and Living Social are listed as well. So you don’t have to skip over to other websites to find the same saving opportunities.
Whether you’re a young couple with a lifetime ahead of you, or an older couple wanting to enjoy the sunset years, saving money on your honeymoon is a smart way to start a marriage.
Shelley Hunter, a.k.a. Gift Card Girlfriend, is your consumer guide to gift cards. As the founder of GiftCardGirlfriend.com, Shelley created a strong following and become an authority on all things gift cards. She is currently the Content Manager and company spokesperson for GiftCards.com.
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