Honeymoon Planning Timeline
Keeping it Stress Free!
Stress Free Honeymoon Planner
by Jennifer Prymula
Most brides and grooms spend countless hours, days, weeks and months planning for the “Big ay.” Unfortunately, honeymoon planning often gets much less attention. And that’s too bad, because the honeymoon is your chance to unwind after all the excitement of the wedding – and it’s the beginning of your new life together. It should be a celebration all its own, not an afterthought!
9–8 months before the honeymoon
Dream, dream, dream. Start discussing what each of you wants for your dream honeymoon. You need to agree on a general theme (e.g. tropical or cosmopolitan, romantic or adventurous), then you can let your imaginations soar. It’s a great way to put some snuggle time and fun into your wedding preparations!
Get out your calendar. Determine how long your honeymoon can be and schedule the time off of work. Remember that honeymoons to distant destinations like Tahiti and Fiji will require more than a week because of travel time and time zone differences. No matter where you go, be sure to plan a day or two to recuperate after you get back home.
Budget realistically. Budget realistically ( ok- I agree this part isn’t fun!) – you’ll need to include airfare, transportation once at the destination-typically called transfers, accommodations, sightseeing, gratuities, meals and souvenirs. And starting now will mean that you don’t shortchange your honeymoon by spending it all on the wedding.
Don’t shortchange yourself! As you work out your budget, keep in mind that your wedding lasts but a couple of hours, while your honeymoon goes on for a week or more. Don’t shortchange yourself by put all of your funds into the wedding! Which do you think you’ll remember more in five years –– the centerpieces at the reception or a private candle lit dinner on the beach where you discussed your future hopes and dreams with your toes in the sand and the stars twinkling above you? The unique placards for your guests or the quality of the food that you eat for a week? And don’t kid yourselves that your room category doesn’t matter — you will be newlyweds after all! Believe me, hearing the waves against the shoreline, while enjoying a view of the sunset and the ocean from your in- room Jacuzzi will be immensely more romantic than a room with a view (and the noise and smells of the parking lot!
8–7 months ahead
Hire a travel agent. Contact travel agents and interview a few to see who you click with. Working with an agency that focuses on honeymoons is a great idea as they know which resorts cater to the honeymoon crowd and have the contacts to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Ask about experience and references. The travel professional should ask a lot of questions about what the two of you want for your dream honeymoon before making any recommendations. Be honest about budget and expectations and then relax. The travel professional will get to work for you! Another advantage of working with a travel agent is you will not need to pay your package in full, only a deposit!
Book it! Review the options, choose a honeymoon package, then place your deposit with your travel agent and relax. That’s one more thing off the wedding to do list! Booking this far in advance will get you the best pricing, the best choice of room categories and the best flights. Plus, as an added bonus, when the wedding plans start to get hectic, you can daydream about your fantastic honeymoon knowing it’s just waiting for the two of you! Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance!
6 months ahead
Get your travel documents in order. If you don’t already have a passport, apply for one now (yes, if there are complications it can take months for your passport to arrive). If you do have passports, check the expiration dates to be sure they will be valid when you travel. A good rule of thumb is that your passport should be valid for six months beyond your return date; in fact, many countries require this ( including Caribbean Islands and Mexico), so check with your travel agent or visit the State Department Web site at www.travel.state.gov. Also check to see if you will need any visas and shots. If there are back child support issues-now is the time to clear them up-before you apply for a passport!
3 months ahead
Review current luggage requirements. Check the luggage you have available against your airline’s luggage requirements. You will need to check both size and weight limits. Airline rules are strict, so borrow or buy new luggage if you have to. Also check special TSA requirements concerning locks, contraband and carry-on restrictions. Currently the rules state that each person can only carryon liquids and gels if they are in their original 3 oz. or less container and all of your liquids & gels must fit in a clear, quart-size, zip-top bag — so, no, you won’t be bringing that magnum of champagne aboard. There are no restrictions currently about liquids in your checked luggage.
Dress and pack for success. If you have any questions about the dress expectations at your honeymoon destination, contact your travel agent. Be sure to bring a sweater or light jacket (planes and air conditioning can get quite chilly), along with sturdy shoes for that long romantic walk on the beach and for sightseeing. If you plan to go horseback riding, you’ll need a pair of blue jeans as well as those shoes (no sandals). I recommend at least two swim suits for both men and women. Swimsuits may not dry as quickly in tropical climates as they do at home, and it’s uncomfortable putting on a damp swimsuit (trust me on this one!). Bring along a couple of gallon size zip top bags to transport damp swimsuits home in!
Buy sunscreen and bug repellant. Sunscreen is a must! While a nice tan can be very sexy, there is nothing romantic about a sunburn! I usually bring two sunscreens: one high SPF for the first few days and then a slightly lower SPF for the rest of the week; I also pack aloe vera, which soothes sun-kissed skin. If you are traveling in the tropics, bug repellant with DEET is a high priority.
2 months ahead
Make final payment. This is as easy as contacting your travel agent and saying go ahead and use the credit card on file!
Take care of the home front. Make arrangements for a house and pet sitter if you’ll need them. Don’t forget to have a backup plan in case these fall through. Also arrange for someone to deliver wedding gifts and keepsakes to your house from the reception, take your wedding dress to the cleaners, return any formalwear or other rentals, and otherwise take care of the wedding cleanup.
3 weeks ahead
Copy everything. Make a copy of your travel arrangements, your passports and your credit cards and leave it with a trusted family member or friend. Be sure to give them your travel agent’s contact information as well.
Hold the deliveries. Unless someone can pick up your mail and newspapers every day, make arrangements to stop delivery. Nothing says “Come rob this house” like a stack of newspapers in the driveway.
Check your camera. Check that your camera is in working condition and pick up extra batteries, memory card(s) or film.
2 weeks ahead
Take out your list and get packing. Two weeks will give you enough time to pick up anything you need and still attend to all the last-minute wedding details. Be sure to pack an extra bag or bring an extra suitcase for those souvenirs and gifts you’re bound to bring home.
Cross-pack. I recommend cross packing, i.e., putting half of your clothes in each other’s suitcase. This way, if the airline misplaces a suitcase for a day or two, neither of you is completely out of clothes!
Consider your carry-on carefully. Pack your tickets, passports, money, personal items, and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag. Also pack your glasses and any medications, making sure they are in their original labeled bottles.
Alert financial managers and cell phone. Call your bank and credit card company to let them know your travel dates and where to. This way you’ll avoid your accounts being frozen for what appears to be suspicious charges! Advance notification may also provide protection if unauthorized charges show up. Be sure to check with your cell phone carrier on your international service and cost!
The day before
Attend to last-minute details. Confirm flight schedule. Double check carryon bag.
Day of departure
Get ready for take-off. Know that the getaway can be hectic, especially if you are leaving directly from the wedding reception. There will be aunts to kiss and tin cans to remove from the back of the car, so start early. You must arrive at the airport early enough to allow for security screening; international flights generally require you to be there at least three hours before departure.
Drink up. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated both before and during travel.
Relax and go with the flow. The wedding is over and now you can enjoy each others company!
Congratulations on planning a stress free honeymoon! If you’ve found yourself not quite on the Honeymoon Planner Timeline- no worries! Just shorten up each step and contact Honeymoons@Sandnsunvacations.com and we’ll get you taken care of and right on track to stress free honeymoon planning!
About the author: Jennifer Prymula, is a certified Honeymoon & Destination Wedding Specialist, Certified Sandals Specialist, Karisma & Couples Resorts Specialist, Hawaii Destination Specialist and an Accredited Cruise Counselor. She is a member of the West Michigan Wedding Association
Contact Jennifer at Jennifer@SandnSunVacations.com