Of all the aspects of an engagement, the honeymoon is one of those over which the groom traditionally has the most control. In fact, back in the day, the groom planned the trip in secret, booked tickets, and then whisked the bride away to someplace unique and exotic, like Disneyworld.
Two things have changed. Barring some weird imbalance of power, your fiancée will be involved in the honeymoon decision-making process. This is a good thing. Embrace it. When you choose a location together, you slash the odds of arguments, disappointment, and corked up resentment. (Don’t worry. You’ll still have plenty of that for the next 50 years.)
The second change: your honeymoon options have exploded. Cancun, Maui, Belize, Australia, Dublin—the possibilities are staggering. Which is actually sort of a problem. When you have so many destinations from which to choose, it’s easy to get hamstrung by the open-endedness of it all. All too often, the groom defaults to a shortlist of “safe” choices (The Bahamas, Paris, yawn), failing to seriously consider the other 1,000+ locales.
There’s a better way.
Flip the problem on its head. Instead of thinking about destinations, think about the characteristics you want in a honeymoon. Do you see yourself sprawled on the beach by day, then savoring a quiet romantic dinner at night? Would the two of you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a city vacation? Do you want golf courses, nightlife, and sightseeing all in one place?
How about wine tasting, snorkeling, or European sex clubs? Theoretically, it’d be great if you could tick off every single variable you’d like to experience, then input some constraints (price, dates, hours of travel time), and then magically get back a range of possible destinations, places you’d otherwise overlook.
There’s a tool for doing just that. It’s a site called TravelMuse. Check it out.
For the rest of your planning, follow these 10 lightning-quick rules:
Sock away money for the honeymoon when you first scope out your wedding budget. Let’s say your car gets totaled—crushed fender, dented hood, shattered headlights. Now imagine that you get a crack in your windshield. Do you think you’d be more pissed off if the cracked windshield happened during the accident…or six months later, after you’ve already paid to have the sucker fixed? Get all your bad news at once.
Need an easy tool for budgeting? Check out The Plunge’s Honeymoon Budget Spreadsheet.
Wait a day or two before you embark
Slow down. Relax. You just had the most anxious, nerve-busting, 48-hour stretch since you waited to see if your ex-girlfriend’s results would be “pink” or “blue.” After the wedding, give yourself a day to chill out, sober up, decompress, recap the night’s activities with each other (it’s likely the two of you will “divide and conquer” your guests during the evening) and thank your family and close friends. We know a few things about honeymoon departures.
As explained above, most of the “surprise” factor has disappeared from honeymoons. Steal a little of it back. In your research, dig for some perks that she doesn’t know about—massages, champagne picnics, all that crap—and don’t tell her about it. You’ll look like a big hero…even if she doesn’t realize that it just might be the last romantic gesture you’ll ever make in your life.
Earlier planning equals cheaper flights equals more money to “invest” in booze or blackjack.
Think about a half-n-half
Maybe you’re waffling between a quiet week on the beach and a daring, balls-to-the-walls adventure through Beijing. You can do both. This is the one vacation in your life (not really, see below) that should cater to your every whim. There’s no rule that says you can’t hit a beach resort first, decompress, then spend a week in Western Europe.
This will not be the best vacation of your life
Think about it. That’d be kinda depressing, right? You’re young. You will make more money. You will have more vacations. So don’t pressure yourself to make this vacation absolutely perfect, stressing, over-planning, freaking out. You know who that sounds like, right?
There’s no shame in waiting
If you don’t have the vacation days (or the cash) to immediately leave Dodge, fine, there’s no hurry and no stigma. Just make sure that you do take a trip sometime in the next year, and if you can, right after the wedding, sneak away for at least one night.
Bake fat into the budget
Nothing will strip the honeymoon of romance like collecting $1.99 coupons, ordering half-priced happy hour instead of champagne, or buying Frosted Flakes instead of using room service. Even if you’re on a tight budget, it’s better to travel for fewer days and allow yourself a bit of pampering. After the six-plus months of shit you just put up with, you deserve it.
Advertise your status
Call your hotel in advance and declare yourself a newlywed. Ditto for restaurants, bars, and basically every venue but grocery stores. Rack up the complimentary fruit baskets, cocktails, and ass-kissing. (Beware. There’s one other thing you rack up: tips.)
You know all those things in the bedroom that you’ve been secretly, naughtily, kinda hoping that maybe someday you can try? This is that day. This is that moment. That is honeymoon sex.
Next up, a critical groom duty: picking the music.