In a recent post, I wrote about how the hubs and I were able to have a really fun wedding on the cheap by making some sacrifices. Here is the follow up to that post- how we managed to have an unconventional but awesome honeymoon for almost free. So if you thought I was a little out there after yesterday’s post when I suggested things like fake wedding flowers, there’s a chance you might think I am equally nuts today when I tell you about the things we did to have an AWESOME honeymoon for almost free. Consider yourself warned 🙂 None of the things that we did took any special talent- anyone could honeymoon this way!
How to Honeymoon on a Budget?
The hubs and I were both in school and living off student loans when we got married. While we made some fairly dumb financial mistakes with our student loans at the beginning of school, by the time we got married we were nearing the end of school and starting to see what financial train wrecks we had been earlier. As a result we really needed to do the whole wedding and honeymoon thing for as cheap as possible.
Here’s the thing: we actually had a rock star honeymoon. We were gone for a month, spending two weeks in Australia and two weeks in New Zealand. It was completely awesome and we totally loved it. But it was nothing like a traditional honeymoon! Here is how we did it:
1) We waited until nine months after the wedding to go on our honeymoon. I know, untraditional, but we had to do it that way because that was when we’d be able to take a whole month off. That also coincided with the off season for tourism in both countries, so we would be able to take advantage of lower prices on certain things.
2) We did not register for traditional gifts for our wedding. We only created a honeymoon registry. We did this because we decided that we would WAY rather have a totally awesome honeymoon than a bunch of dishes and stuff. There are several different websites where you can do this; the one that we used was www.thebigdayregistry.com. Basically, we went on the site and created our wish list for our dream honeymoon, containing items such as ‘Snorkeling cruise at the Great Barrier Reef,’ ‘Rappelling excursion in New Zealand,’ ‘Rental car in New Zealand,’ etc. You can put anything on there. Our guests seemed to really enjoy getting to choose parts of our honeymoon to pay for, and they loved hearing about it when we got back! The site takes a percentage of the monies collected, which is how they make their money.
3) We stayed in hostels for the majority of the trip. This is the part that everyone seems to think sounds awful, but it was cheap and we met some really great people that we never would have otherwise met. And we were selective about the hostels that we stayed in- we opted for hostels that offered private rooms, so we did not have to share rooms with strangers as can sometimes be the case in hostels. We did splurge for the last four days of our honeymoon and stayed at a really great spa resort in New Zealand- so we did have some more traditional honeymoon elements in there too.
4) Because hostels often have kitchen facilities, we were able to cook a lot of our own meals. This saved us a ton of money since we did not have to eat out very much. There was also the added bonus that we got to experience grocery shopping in a foreign country, which is always an adventure!
5) The hubs and I both finished school right before we left for our honeymoon. When our parents and family members asked what we wanted for graduation we made it clear that honeymoon funds were what we most desired as gifts. Same for Christmas and birthdays in the months between the wedding and the honeymoon.
By foregoing a traditional gift registry, saving money like crazy, and keeping food and lodging costs down, we were able to have the honeymoon of our dreams, and here’s the best part: We paid almost nothing out of our own pockets. Looking back we think the final bill for it all came to a little bit over what we had saved and received in gifts, but not much.
Do we have any regrets? None. In fact, as I was writing this post I asked the hubs if he had any regrets about how we honeymooned, and he only had one: “That we came back!”
But that’s just our story. Anyone else out there have an unconventional honeymoon story to share?
Suggested Reading: If you are in the planning stages of your wedding and/or honeymoon now, a great book that you may want to check out is Plan the Perfect Honeymoon: 200 Honeymoon Ideas & Destinations for All Budgets (affiliate link). TONS of great ideas in here!
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
Grayson @ Debt Roundup says
My good friend did this with his wedding. He and his now wife created a honeymoon fund and you could just pick which activities you wanted to fund. They paid very little to go to Hawaii for 2 weeks and I wish I would have thought of the idea.
Yeah, it’s a really cool way to do it. We figured we had plenty of “stuff” and we would much rather create memories and experiences together!
That sounds awesome! I would have loved to go on a honeymoon like that! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go on a honeymoon because we got married right before Christmas. =/
I’ve known some couples who go on a “honeymoon” for a special anniversary or something…
Michelle @fitisthenewpoor says
I wish we waited to go on our honeymoon. We probably would have enjoyed it a bit more too after the rush and stress leading up to our big day.
Insanely jealous of your honeymoon destination. It’s on our must-visit list!
We actually would have liked to go sooner, but it just worked out best that way. It did help us save up money though- since we were able to split up the wedding and honeymoon expenses by nine months! It helped with budgeting. And we TOTALLY recommend both places to visit- we loved the trip and even though it was eight years ago we still frequently reminisce.
Romona @Monasez says
I have an tv so I would love to do a cross country road trip for a honeymoon. That way I save on hotel cost and food.
An RV would be a fun way to honeymoon! That would totally save on hotel and food. Wow, I’m jealous that you have one!
Jen @ The Happy Homeowner says
I love this!!! I definitely plan to register for honeymoon and travel-related gifts instead of a traditional registry. And I love that you guys made your honeymoon go for a month!!!!!! 🙂
It’s totally the way to go, in my opinion! And we figured as long as we were traveling to the other side of the world we better stay a while. 🙂
We haven’t even had our wedding yet, but we are getting married in the summer so we aren’t going to honeymoon right away. a) it’s more expensive as that’s when everybody is going, and b) we have beautiful weather here, so we might as well enjoy it while it’s around.
Great tips. We do need a lot of house stuff, so we will still be registering, but we have some unique ideas on how to make money for our honeymoon.
I know, it’s way more fun to get away in the winter, right? Happy wedding planning!
What an amazing story! We’re probably going to register for a few essentials that we desperately need, but then do the rest on one of those honey moon registry sites. I’m not going to lie, though….we’ve been saving to go to a pretty nice hotel during peak season. I’m one of those always off-season, the hotel room is just a place to sleep kind of girls, but I feel pretty okay about our decision…once in a lifetime, right? How did you decide how much to list the different items on your registry for? Did you do real prices or just set numbers that could work across a bunch of different budgets?
The most important thing is that it’s what you want and you are saving to pay for it! Congrats on your upcoming wedding/honeymoon!
We did some research and figured out “good estimates” for what we thought each registry item would cost. It was kind of tough to do, since we knew we wanted to do certain activities (like snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef) but didn’t know exactly which tour operator we would go with or what kind of deal we might be able to swing, etc. We just came up with the best estimate that we could. Good luck to you!
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says
This sounds so awesome, Dee. We did the traditional wedding, and if we had to do it over, would’ve done things totally different. Cheap, fun, and put the money spent in the bank where it belongs. 🙂
Dee S says
Thanks, we loved it! We’d totally do it exactly the same way if we had a chance to do it again 🙂
We also honeymooned in Australia. My husband is Australian and he was only able to have 6 family members at our 120 guest wedding, due to the distance. Because we spent time visiting family and friends, the only time we spent in a hotel was a couple of nights that my parents-in-law arranged in a honeymoon suite. We spent about $5,000 on travel. I didn’t use one of those registry sites, because the travel was really a lump sum that couldn’t be divided into fun categories. I did catch some flack about etiquette. I tried to be very consistent in how we talked about what we were asking for, I used the “registry” section of our website to explain the plan. We also asked for either a handmade gift or money for travel. And I let guests who chose to contribute know when we bought the tickets in our thank you notes. My only regret is not being able to go back in time and uninvite anyone who thinks our choice was tacky. If gifts are supposed to contribute to a couple starting out in life, wouldn’t cash towards a down payment or student loans be better than a fancy dinner service set? If you need things from a traditional registry, great, if not, you should be able to ask for money towards something sensible.
Dee S says
I hope no one gave you a hard time about that! It’s so expensive to travel that far and of course that’s what you’d prefer as a gift. I think that couples should be able to ask for whatever they want or need. Gifts are of course not required for a wedding, and folks who don’t like the idea of couples stating what they want don’t have to give them that. We did have some folks give us traditional gifts instead of contributing to the wedding registry. We appreciated those too (and most of those gifts came from older people who are less internet-savvy).
I don’t understand people who have a problem with couples stating what they want. You’re going to get the couple a gift anyway, so why not get them what they want?
I LOVE the idea of having your wedding gifts be the honeymoon! My mom and stepdad did that when they married a few years ago and I thought it was perfect (especially for a second marriage since they already have all of the traditional household gifts) But I love the concept of doing it for any wedding. I’m so glad that you were able to have a wonderful honeymoon without spending tons of cash! And for the record, hostels sound awesome 🙂
Dee S says
We really loved it! Years later we still reminisce about our honeymoon and how much we enjoyed it. FAR better than dishes or towels!!