January 2017

How to Not Ruin Your Honeymoon

Author: Kent Thune

You fall in love, get engaged, get married and go on the most memorable vacation of your life: your honeymoon. But keep in mind that “memorable” does not always translate into happy, romantic, and amazing, like you’ve always imagined. So with that in mind, we’ve put together some tips on how to prevent your dream honeymoon from becoming a nightmare vacation.

Look for the best value. Don’t be afraid to invest big on your honeymoon, but don’t let it break the bank, either. What you want is the best value that balances your dreams with your budget. Don’t worry—the word “value” does not connote “cheap” in this context. Value means the best product or service for the most reasonable price. So balance is a key word here. If you go for the cheapest vacation you can find, you’re rolling the dice on achieving a happy honeymoon. But if you splurge your entire budget and max out your credit cards to match an unachievable wish, you’re also likely to make a mistake that can hurt you financially and put strain on your young marriage from the very start. To find values, talk to friends, put out feelers on social media, sit down with travel agents, and just generally do your homework.

Wait a few days. If you are at least a few months into the planning phase of your wedding, you now realize that weddings are exhausting! And the actual wedding day will be even more physically and emotionally draining than all of the months of planning and stressing combined. Although this kind of exhaustion and stress is the good kind, it’s still smart to think twice before hopping on a plane for the Caribbean just a few hours after tying the knot. And waking up early the following morning may also be a little too soon to start your lives together as man and wife. Instead, take a couple days to relax, recharge, and get some energy for more activities later on your honeymoon. Take a day or two to go to the spa, spend a little more time with friends and family you haven’t seen in years, and double check your list of things to do on your honeymoon.

Don’t honeymoon yet. Instead of waiting a few days, it may be smart to wait a few months or even a few years before taking the trip of your lives. If the type of honeymoon you really want is out of your budget, either pick your second choice or save more for the dream trip later, because bargain-hunting for a second-rate getaway has the potential to really ruin your experience before, during and after the honeymoon. Long road trips, multiple layovers, red-eye flights, low-rate hotels, and running out of cash early can all be disastrous for the most important element in your honeymoon—starting your lives together. Tonya Russell of Hilton Head Island says, “We could not afford a honeymoon right away, but I think if you focus more on the marriage and the person you vow to be with ’til death do you part, then everything else falls in to place.”

Plan for relaxation time. Since the most important part of your honeymoon is spending time together, planning too many activities can also be disastrous. “Remember to relax as much as you can and try not to squeeze everything in on your honeymoon,” said Angie Thune of Hilton Head Island. One of many things you’ll recall about your wedding and the days surrounding it is that the time went by too fast. This is because there are so many events and activities—the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, the toasts, the ceremony, the greeting of all the guests, the dancing, the cake cutting—all crammed into 24 hours that you can’t possibly soak in for lasting memories. That’s the nature of weddings. But your honeymoon doesn’t need to be that way, and it shouldn’t! Doing nothing together is actually doing something. Relax and enjoy being together while the world isn’t spinning so fast.

Pay attention to place and time. Some destinations have a definite season and individual time periods when you want to avoid them. For example, unless you want to toss a coin on the chances of a cancellation or major disruption of your big trip, don’t plan a cruise in September, which is the peak of hurricane season. And you probably don’t want to share a beach with thousands of obnoxious teenagers getting loud and doing keg stands while you’re looking for a spot to lie down, catch some rays, and share a beautiful moment with your soul mate. So don’t plan your honeymoon at a popular spring break destination during March or early April. There are many other possible negative potentialities with the place and time of your honeymoon that you might not be aware of, so take the time to do research or meet with a travel agent before booking the trip.

Keep realistic expectations. It’s arguably an understatement to say that Hollywood and mass media tend to distort reality, and the honeymoon is no exception here. If their images and words were accurate, every honeymoon would take place on a remote tropical island, where indigenous people serve the most delicious food and drinks you’ve ever tasted while you lie together in a hammock that is perfectly situated between two palm trees. As you gaze into each other’s eyes, the sun is setting over the clear blue ocean. After the sun sets, the new husband picks up his young bride and carries her into a grass hut that looks like a five-star hotel on the inside, where classic Frank Sinatra songs are playing and you… Well, you can fill in the rest of the story in your own mind. While there is nothing wrong with dreaming, just be sure to keep a perspective that is part romantic, part adventurous, and part humorous when the honeymoon actually happens.

Realistically, there will be sun burns, stomach bugs or even a trip to the hospital. Even worse, you may have an argument or two with your new spouse or you may get bored at times! So if you approach the honeymoon with too many assumptions, you may be unhappy when reality falls short of what you expected.

Be open to the possibilities, have a sense of humor about the mishaps, and leave room for those magical moments that you never expected. That’s not just honeymoon advice but also the wonderful realities of marriage and life.

Kent Thune, CFP®, is a money manager and the owner of a Hilton Head Island investment advisory firm, Atlantic Capital Investments. He is also a freelance writer and is currently working on a book to be published later in 2016. You can follow his musings on mind, money and mastery of life at TheFinancialPhilosopher.com or on Twitter @ThinkersQuill.

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