Honeymoon Plans! Exciting and Depressing at the Same Time…

I have never been on an exotic vacation. When I was young my parents and I traveled up and down the east coast doing fun stuff, but I had never really been out of the US, until I went to college. Through school, I was able to get a job working at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. It was one of the best experiences of my life, but it was work, not a vacation. In addition, my hubby-to-be hasn’t really ever been on vacation at all! So I think that our honeymoon would be a great time (maybe the only time) for us to explore and experience.

Well it turns out to explore and experience you need lots of money. When people say they travel all the time, I’d like to know where they are getting their funds. I didn’t think we had a small honeymoon budget until we told the travel agent what we wanted to do. You should have seen the look she gave us. You’d think I’d sprouted another head! The conversation went something like this:

“Hello, what can I do for you today?”

“We’d like to plan our honeymoon.”

“Where would you like to go?”

“We were thinking a cruise in the Mediterranean.”

“Ok what’s your budget.”

“$$$$”

(Insert “You must be joking” look here)

“Ok…why don’t you let us know where we can go on our budget.”

It really started to seem like we could only go to the burger joint down the street with our budget. But the good people at AAA (of which I am a member…a very handy thing when you lock yourself out of your car all the time), did find us a really nice vacation, still over budget, but quite exotic and nice. We are planning to take a cruise to the Caribbean on one of the biggest boats in existence, The Allure Of The Seas. Of course she made it sound very exciting, and it is, BUT we are over budget by $1000 with it. I am still determined to have a honeymoon, and I think we will put down a deposit…but WOW. To me, the spendthrift, travel is becoming less and less exciting and more of a big, fat, money pit.

This is a learn-as-I-go process, so from my experiences, those of you planning, will hopefully learn too. So here is my sage advice: You can’t get very far for less than $2000, so budget at least that if you are looking for a bit “honeymoon experience.” If your travel agent finds flights and hotels below budget for you, great! But you will still need the money, there are so many hidden fees, and little costs one doesn’t expect. Cruises, for example, are not always “all inclusive.” Different things will cost more money and it will be good to have the extra cash on hand.

Tip #2 is to book your honeymoon a few months AFTER your wedding, Especially if your wedding is during summer months! If you book a cruise during October, November, December, provided you are cruising someplace warm, the rates will be MUCH cheaper. AND any money your guests give to you for the wedding can be counted up and added to your honeymoon cost.  Most places ask for all your money 90 days before you go, and by waiting you are able to add that much more money to the pot.

Overall, I left feeling sort of grim about the whole thing…which is NOT how you are supposed to feel. But sadly, we are going to have to work DOUBLE time for all this. I know it will all be worth it and so I want to end on a happy note, pictures of all the destinations we’ll be hitting on our cruise…provided we can pay for it. ;)

Ft Lauderdale is our departure locale!

Onto Nassau, Bahamas

Then Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Lastly, Philipsburg, St. Maarten before heading back to Ft. Lauderdale!

Destination: Deer Isle

I’ve sort of been looking at our wedding a little bit differently lately. Because Maine is where we live, I don’t think of it as a “destination wedding” but the truth is, most of our guests are coming from out-of-state so for most of them, it IS a destination wedding. We will definitely have to provide a list of hotels in the area as well as a list of “things to do,” but we definitely want to be able to have a place where all of our arriving guests and our bridal party can congregate and have a great time.

After taking a look in the area, we actually found some great, affordable rental houses that can sleep the bridal party and parents, and would provide a place for everyone to spend time with us.

Most of these places want you to rent the house for a week, which would actually be a great asset for us, to be on the island before the wedding. We can relax, spend time with friends and family, and get ready for the wedding.

Check out some of these views on the island:

It doesn’t get much more destination than that!

I think destination weddings are all about the experience. The wedding “feel” I wanted was all about family and backyard barbeque style. If I can afford to keep that feeling going for a week, why not? It’s not always easy to find the perfect venue close by to your house, and unfortunately our venue is 3 hours away from where we live. The rental will even give that feel of a vacation for us, as well as allowing us to keep up with the details on our wedding.

Has anyone else rented a house before their wedding? I think it’s the right move for us. I’ve never rented a summer-house, but I’m really excited for the experience!

Getting Away

I had a terrible thought today. As I was going over the vague budget we have (vague because we are so far out that we don’t have any vendor prices), I realized that after we spend the money on our vendors and decorations we will have no money left for the honeymoon. We are scrimping every place we can right now just to save for the wedding and there is no way to be able to save more for the honeymoon. I was naive to think our whole budget could cover both things I guess.

As a result of this mini panic attack, I began brain storming ways to be able to get money for that all important trip. I think, first of all, that we shouldn’t go after our wedding. Any trip we take in August is going to more expensive than if we took it in the winter months. Secondly, it might be best to take a cruise. With a cruise you have three big expenses to consider, boat cost, plane fare, and any added off-boat expenses. It would be easy to budget for those things rather than looking at all the factors of, say, a European tour, which is what I really wanted. It has always been my dream to wander around Europe, but it might be best to port in the Mediterranean and wander bits of Europe.

And thirdly, and most importantly, the almighty Registry. I’m sure back in the day when people weren’t living together (or on their own) before they got married an “items” registry was practical. But let’s be honest, that is just not the case our modern-day. Couples are living together more and more to save money on everyday costs, so they already have all the house-hold items anyone would need. Because my fiance lives with me, I have two food processors, two bread makers,  two TVs and two beds…not to mention various other sundries boys bring along with them. So what is a tactful way of saying, “Please no gifts, just send some money.” I do have a few answers

#1 Don’t sign up for a registry. When you are asked about it, say that you can’t think of anything you need. People understand that a gift should be brought, so without guidance they will most likely bring a card with cash or a check. You can even set up a little display to show you will use their generous gifts for your honeymoon

You can also put a collection jar near the cake or the cash bar, so if people do have cash on them, they might stash some in the jar.

#2 This is quite interesting. I did some digging around to find a polite way to ask for cash instead, and I found this wonderful web site: Deposit A Gift. This site basically allows you to open a savings account where you can post things that you want or need, and your guests can put money toward those things. For instance, I could highlight on this page that we need money for our honeymoon, and guests type in the dollar amount the want to contribute, which gets put right into your account. You can also create an “About Us” page, to tell the relatives who don’t know both of you, a little bit about your relationship. There are other pages where you can talk about your wedding details, so no one has an excuse to forget! Now for the fun catch, because there always is one, there is a service charge fee for overhead and credit cards. While setting up an account is free, whenever your guest goes to give their gift a service fee of 7.5% of the total gift. They do give you a choice, either you can pay the fee, or the gift giver can pay it…but someone has to.

You can also try:

OurWishingWell - The interest rate lowers the more money you get, but you (and only) must pay the fee when you withdraw the money

AGreatAffair - The same as Deposit A Gift but they are saying 7% interest

MyRegistry - This site offers a Cash Gift site, but here, PayPal charges a fee, and they also charge a fee when a gift is given, which slowly goes up as the dollar amount goes up

Honeyfund - A friend of mine who is getting married very soon told me about this site, which seems to be the best deal out of all the sites I’ve looked at. Right on the home page it tells you that they do not charge a transaction fee. This is true, but PayPal does charge a fee. However this is the best deal out of all the sites I’ve found, because they do not charge an additional fee on top of what PayPal charges. All the instructions on set up look pretty straight forward and the site is pretty cute. You can pay for an upgraded page with no ads, more templates, and a photo slide show, but it only costs $39 once. I give Honeyfund my stamp of approval, so far, it’s the one I would use.

I will probably shop around more for the best deal, but this does seem to be the most efficient way of receiving cash for the honeymoon. Here’s hoping we can afford to do something fun! I should probably stop worrying about money and get back to making paper flowers. Stay tuned to find out how the paper Ranunculus turns out!