We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: the honeymoon is your reward for months of stressful wedding planning. But that’s doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Remember, after the wedding is the actual marriage–the “til-death-do-us-part” part. You don’t want to start your marriage with a crippling debt incurred by your honeymoon. Don’t worry–there are plenty of ways to have an amazing affordable honeymoon without spending everything you have in the bank and everything you will ever earn.
The great thing about a honeymoon registry is that you can get a luxury result for a modest outlay. Because all your friends, guests, etc. will be contributing a little bit, you can afford something really nice, and no one has to strain their bank account. Registries like Honeyfund allow your guests to contribute to the cost of your airfare, hotels, and meals. They can even give you specific gifts, like a day at the spa or parasailing lessons. The two of you get to make like true 1%-ers without spending a dime.
For the outdoorsy and adventurous couple, camping is a great affordable honeymoon option. You get all the glory of nature, all the coziness of sharing a sleeping bag, all the romance of making love in the light of your campfire. Aside from annoying insects (the reason God invented bug-spray), hungry bears, and the occasional Blair Witch, camping is a safe, comfortable adventure with which to start your marriage. Plus, you get to see how your wife copes with having to pee in the woods. Character building stuff.
THE OFF SEASON
Plenty of hot tourist spots have off seasons, when prices are cheaper and crowds are few. Find these places. There will be some sacrifices–Nantucket in winter is sparse and beautiful, but you won’t be able to swim; the Caribbean in July is cheaper and less crowded, but it’s humid as hell, except when the occasional hurricane blows through. Not only will an off-season trip save you money, you will be able to enjoy an isolated experience. This is exactly what you want on your honeymoon.
Tell everyone you’re going away on an incredible trip to some faraway destination, where there’s no internet or texting. Then, on the day of your departure, lock your doors and pull down the shades. Stay home for two weeks and do whatever the hell you want. Binge watch “You’re The Worst.” Eat cereal and leave the bowls in the sink. Walk around naked in fluffy socks. Let the mail pile up, unanswered. No one need know. Just be certain you’ve stacked up on supplies so you never have to leave the house or order in. If, after you’ve “returned from your trip,” people ask why you don’t have a tan, just say “Dude, we hardly ever left our room” and give them a shit eating grin.
DON’T GO SO FAR
Sure, we understand how you always pictured a trip half-way around the world. But if all you really want is be alone with your newly-minted wife, you may be able to find a cheaper solution closer to home. The secret is that you have to stay away from anyone you know, and any familiar settings. How hard is that? Drive three hours away and rent a swanky hotel suite. It will still be cheaper than flying for 30 hours to reach an island in the middle of the Pacific.
Go on a road trip where you visit all your far-flung friends and crash on their couch. It will be fun, it will be cheap and it will be cozy. Also, your friends might feel guilty and give you their rooms to sleep in. I mean, c’mon, it’s your honeymoon.
The advantages of this plan? You get to see several different cities or towns, and experience how your friends live. The disadvantages? Having just seen them at your wedding, you may have run out of things to talk about.
PURSUE YOUR COMMON NICHE INTEREST
Unless your marriage was arranged, you’ve probably figured out some common interests you and your spouse share. Make one of these the focus of your honeymoon. Are you both history buffs? Become Civil War reenactors. You’ll be able to travel, dress up in fancy clothes, and role play “the brave soldier boy returns home to his tearful sweetheart” to your hearts’ content.
Always had a soft spot for trains, but can’t afford Amtrak tickets? Jump in the van and go “railfanning.” Railfanning is also called “train spotting.” Basically, you go stand by a railroad tracks and watch the trains go by. Don’t knock it: there is an active railfanning culture in the US and Britain. There’s few honeymoon thrills more affordable than watching the 4:15 Acela from Boston zoom past you at 150 miles an hour. Just be careful not to get too close to the tracks.
America is covered with farm houses. Some have been converted into artist studios, or performance spaces, or B&B’s. But some are just sitting there, waiting to be used. Go on a barn trespassing tour: sneak into a stranger’s barn at night, make passionate love in the hay, snooze, tip-toe out and hit the road before sunrise. The adventure, the danger, and the “Green Acres” vibe will give your honeymoon that extra frisson that no trip to the Caribbean can offer.