Planning Your Honeymoon on a Budget

Did you know the average couple spends between $4,000 and $5,000 on their honeymoon – an estimated 11-14% of their overall wedding budget?

Crazy? I think so. A honeymoon shouldn’t bankrupt you. It’s nothing more than a chance for you and your spouse to enjoy some one-on-one time and relax after all the work of planning a wedding, and if you keep that in mind, it shouldn’t be hard to plan a trip that’s both fun and affordable. 

To that end, here are 10 ideas for keeping your honeymoon budget reasonable:

1. Include the cost of your honeymoon into your overall wedding budget.

Doing so allows you to keep wedding decisions in perspective – for example, “do I want to spend $3000 on an open bar, or limit the guests to a free keg or two and go to Hawaii instead of Arizona?”

2. Use a cash or honeymoon registry.

Registries were designed so that friends and family could help the couple start their new life together with enough dishes, towels, toasters, etc. Now that couples are getting married later in life or living together before their wedding, it’s less likely that they’ll need those items.

If you aren’t jonesing for a KitchenAid or are more of a minimalist (hi! me too!) you might want to consider a cash registry. You can set yours up using The Knot or Wedding Wire, and you can use those gifts to pay for your honeymoon.

You can also opt to use a honeymoon registry, which lets guests buy you fun amenities, hotel stays, couples massages, tours, or gift cards to restaurants. A lot of guests find this more fun and personal than simply forking over cash. Check out Honeyfund or Traveller’s Joy to set up your registry.

3. Keep an open mind about destinations and use for ideas.

This is my absolute favorite tip because has come through for Sam and I more than once! Skyscanner allows you to choose your home airport and then click ‘Everywhere’ for your destination. From there, you can choose to view flight options by month or – my personal favorite – ‘by cheapest month.’

I have found AMAZING deals – both last minute and several months out – using this method. ***I found round-trip tickets to New York City for $15 once. I found the tickets on a Wednesday and we left on Sunday. It was a whirlwind 36-hour trip and one of our favorites to this day!***

We’ve also flown to Naples, Arizona, Dallas, Chicago, Denver, Los Angelos, and more for less than $75 round trip using Skyscanner. I can’t recommend them enough! You can also use them for international travel, although I haven’t been able to use that functionality yet.

By not being picky about your dates or destination, you can find some incredible deals and stretch your honeymoon budget even farther.

4. Consider alternative airports.

Skyscanner will allow you to search surrounding airports, which can save you considerable money (Google Flights can do this as well). You can use public transportation or rent a car once you get to your destination – in some ways, it can make the trip even more of an adventure when you’re forced to do some of the navigating yourself!

5. Book an AirBNB or VRBO with a kitchen.

Eating out adds up fast. By booking a stay that has a kitchen, you’ll give yourself some flexibility to stay in and cook some of your meals. Plus, it’s a fun way to try a new recipe or take a free online cooking class with your spouse without worrying about making a mess in your own home. If you don’t love to cook, you can always keep it simple and stick to basics like pre-cooked frozen meals, cold cereal, or sandwich ingredients.

**Make sure the host provides some basic cookware before booking.

6. Book the cheapest room.

Choosing the cheapest room at the nicest hotel you can afford is no big deal if you plan on being at the pool or beach most of the day! Plus, you’re still able to enjoy the resort, food, and any other amenities the hotel offers.

7. Cash in those miles.

If you’re like me, you stockpile ridiculous amounts of miles. Now’s the time to use them!

This might also be the time to look into a rewards-based credit card. While I don’t recommend going into debt for your wedding (or honeymoon) it’s often possible to get a credit card that offers benefits like “spend $5,000 to get 50,000 points.” You’re probably spending at least that much on your wedding, so why not pay with the card and use the points towards your honeymoon flights while systematically (and quickly) paying off the credit card?

Sam and I do a lot of our traveling this way. If you’d like a great resource on learning how to use credit card points, I recommend the ChooseFI Free Travel course. It’s easy, free, and will walk you through what you need to know to safely use credit cards for amazing travel!

8. Drive instead of flying.

Road trip, anyone? If you don’t have the budget for an out-of-state or international honeymoon, that’s totally ok. There’s nothing like a good road trip, some basic camping gear, and a cooler full of food for making epic and super-romantic memories.

9. Use a hostel.

Not all hostels are the terrible, over-crowded nightmare they’re made out to be in movies. You can usually book a private room for about $10 more a night, and they’re often very peaceful, affordable, and accommodating. Keep in mind that you might have to share a bathroom, so if that’s not your jam, skip this tip!

10. Consider the mini-moon.

Mini-moons are the perfect solution for anyone hoping to spend less money on their honeymoon, and some couples use mini-moons as a way to save for a bigger honeymoon or anniversary trip down the line. A mini-moon is typically 2 or 3 days and is usually much more affordable than a full-on honeymoon!

Popular mini-moon locations for Minnesota brides:

  • Saugatuck, Michigan
  • Lead, South Dakota
  • Traverse City, Michigan
  • Lutsen, Minnesota
  • Grand Marais, Minnesota
  • Pincushion Mountain, Minnesota
  • Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

Minnesota Mini-moon Stays and Resorts:

Popular mini-moon locations for Florida brides:

  • Sanibel and Captiva Islands
  • Key Biscayne
  • Lover’s Key
  • St. Augustine (nation’s oldest city!)
  • St. George Island
  • Florida Everglades
  • Amelia Island

Florida Mini-moon Stays and Resorts:

There you have it! How are you planning your honeymoon? Any tips for other brides? Drop a comment or share your ideas with the Rachel Elle Photography Bride Tribe!

I’M  Rachel

Fine art & Hybrid Minneapolis Wedding  Photographer 

Rachel Elle is a Fine Art Wedding Photographer privileged to serve Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Florida. 

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