As far ahead of your honeymoon date as possible (at least 8 months to a year if you can) sort out how much money is available for your trip and set it aside in a separate account. This will not only help keep the funds from “disappearing” to other wedding-related expenses, but it will help narrow down your search for the perfect honeymoon destination.
Choose Your Destination.
This is something fun you can do right after you get engaged. Sit down with your bride- or groom-to-be and comb through travel magazines, surf the Web or just share ideas about your dream destination. Do you both lead an active lifestyle? Then perhaps a hiking, biking, camping or skiing destination is the one for you.
Love to relax and soak up the sun? Choose an island or beach destination, or perhaps even a cruise. For the intellectually minded, you can choose a location that offers culture, good food and lots of stimulating activities by heading for a large city. Want some privacy? Choose a cabin in the woods or a spa that focuses on couples. Having a theme wedding? Choose a destination that plays off of your theme. For example, if you have a Celtic wedding, take a trip to the British Isles, stay in an Irish or Scottish castle and give the Blarney Stone a big kiss for luck!
Either way, choose something that both of you can enjoy. This may be the first time to use your negotiating skills or learn how to compromise!
Travel Agent or Not?
Now that you’ve chosen your destination, decide whether you want to book the details yourself or leave it to a professional. Even though travel specialists can take some of the stress off of you by doing the research and making the bookings, they do charge a fee to do so and they may not know of quaint, out-of-the-way accommodations. If you do choose an agent, get a reputable one at the American Society of Travel Agents website.
You are still one year away from the event, but now IS the time to book plane tickets and hotels. If you are using frequent flyer miles you have a better chance of getting the time slots and seats you want if you book well in advance. It can also help you to get a nonstop flight.
The best hotels often fill up quickly and if you are traveling abroad you will definitely want the accommodations of your choice. Hotels in Europe are often small, with limited space, so reserve well in advance.
Six Months to Go!
There’s only six more months to the big day! Time to get your passport if you don’t have one or renew if the one you have is not current. Passports can take less than a month or more than three to process and you don’t want to be scrambling through red tape at the last minute.
Along with a passport, you will need vaccinations if you are traveling to Africa, Southeast Asia or other exotic locales. Some vaccinations are a one shot deal, but others come in a series that require injections spaced weeks (or months) apart.
After all that is done, make sure you have any necessary visas and schedule transportation at your destination. Book transport to and from the airport and purchase rail tickets or tickets for short flights within a country now.
Three Months and Counting...
You may not want to plan anything for your honeymoon if you are seeing it as a relaxing, carefree time, but if you want to sightsee and soak up the local culture, now is the time to plan out the things you want to do. This way you don’t have to waste valuable time during your vacation squaring the little details away.
Now is also a good time to make (or print out) a packing list, buy luggage, service your camera or video recorder and do any last minute clothing shopping for your trip.
One month before travel, fill all prescriptions so you won’t run out on your trip and spend half a day in a doctor’s office. Make a list of important phone numbers, including the local embassy if you are traveling abroad. Keep phone numbers for credit card companies and all hotels and transportation companies close at hand in case of last-minute issues.
Time to pack! You will be busy with the wedding in the next weeks so get this step out of the way now. Confirm all of your reservations as well, so there are no surprises on the horizon. If you are traveling abroad, get some local currency to tide you over until you can get to an exchange center or an ATM at your destination. This way you can tip airport personnel, pay cab drivers and tip hotel valets without embarrassment.
Pack a carry-on one day before and check the weather at your destination to make sure your luggage doesn’t need some last minute tweaks. Then, relax and enjoy the well-planned start to a beautiful life as husband and wife!
Did You Know?
Where does our tradition of “honeymoon” stem from? The earliest term for this in English was hony moone, which was recorded as early as 1546, and referred to the month after the nuptials when, apparently, relations were at their sweetest.
However, the word honeymoon has its roots in the Norse word "hjunottsmanathr" which means “in hiding”. In ancient Britain where many Norse settlers lived, marriage by capture was fairly common. The husband would abduct his wife to the countryside and live for weeks for fear that his wife would be recaptured or taken by others.
There is also an ancient Northern European custom in which newlyweds, for the first month of their married life, drank a daily cup of honeyed wine called mead. In Ireland, legend has it that at the beginning of 6th century, Alice, the beautiful daughter of a Celtic chieftain, enjoyed eating sweets. A local prince wooed her with gifts of honey, which she made into mead, a fermented honey wine. At weddings, Alice would make this wine to entertain guests and often made so much that the newlyweds were able to drink the wine that remained for another month. Thus, local residents imitated Alice's way of making honey wine when their children got married and called the first month of marriage "honeymoon".
In another reference to Celtic lore, first (or only) full moon in June is called the Honey Moon. Tradition holds that this is the best time to harvest honey from the bee hives.