Who would want their honeymoon going sideways? Careful planning can ensure that you get the honeymoon of your dreams. Here are things you should NOT do when planning your ideal honeymoon and what you should do instead.
DON'T HAVE YOUR RELATIVES TO PLAN YOUR HONEYMOON...
I have had several couples that get their honeymoons paid for by their parents, which is fantastic. But you shouldn't have them plan the trip for you. Last year, I had parents come to book their daughter's honeymoon. The direction I received was, "she likes beaches and collecting shells." That isn't as helpful as you would think it would be. There are a lot of beaches in the world, and all of them have shells. I promise that you will not be happy on another person's honeymoon.
…Do realize your parents don't share your lifestyle.
So many couples don't have time to research destinations and resorts, that's why they hire me! But settling for recommendations from family and friends without checking them out is a disaster waiting to happen. If you give me a budget and take 10 minutes to fill out my questionnaire, I will know the resorts and destinations that fit you best. Your parents can still pay for the trip. I can invoice them directly, or they can put the money on a honeymoon registry.
DON'T CARBON COPY YOUR FRIEND'S HONEYMOON...
I hear this all the time, "My best friend went to the XXXX Sandals, and we are just going to go there too." Yes, you probably have similar tastes to your friends, but you aren't the same people.
…Do Remember: your best friend's partner isn't marrying you!!
Your honeymoon priorities might be very different from yours. Perhaps they wanted to spend their honeymoon dancing the night away, and you want to spend your honeymoon relaxing at the beach. You will not be happy going to the enormous resort they chose, no matter how much you like your friends. You tell me how you want to feel on your trip; then, I will design a honeymoon tailored to your tastes. If you have trouble with this concept, ask yourself if you planned a wedding that exactly matched your friends. Probably not, right? So why would you settle for their honeymoon?
DON'T BE FOOLED BY THAT "LOW PRICE DEAL"...
Several years ago, I had a groom come to me wanting to plan an all-inclusive honeymoon. We looked at multiple islands and resorts. And we finally landed on a hotel that he loved. They wanted a swim out room, but I couldn't find it available anywhere. I told the groom that we needed to change to a sister resort, but the groom didn't want to pay for the more expensive resort. He found the swim-out he wanted at an online agency and booked the trip himself. I received a call on the first day of their honeymoon. They did get a swim out, but the pool was under construction, and there was no water in it. Unfortunately, the resort wouldn't move them to another room, and since I didn't book the trip, there was nothing I could do for them. Also, the online agency wouldn't give them a refund.
…Do Remember: You have to pay for the trip you want.
All the resorts may look gorgeous, why is there a difference in prices between 4 and 5-star resorts? The answer is quality—wide ranges in quality, the food, the rooms, the overall atmosphere of the resort. So please, when you meet with me, listen to the contrast in the features vs. prices at each property. And we will find you the perfect option for you. And if I tell you a category isn't available at a specific resort, know that it's not possible to book it. If I can't find it, then there is a reason!
DON'T LET THAT FREE HONEYMOON GIFT RUIN YOUR TRIP...
I had a bride that wanted to honeymoon in Bora Bora in an overwater bungalow. We spent weeks going over every resort and flight to perfect the trip, and she was thrilled with their honeymoon itinerary. Two days after placing the deposit, her fiancee's uncle offered them free use of his timeshare in Tampa. They decided to save the money and go to Tampa. The bride wrote to me after their trip and said they both agreed that they should have gone to Bora Bora. They didn't realize that the timeshare they were going to use was in a resort geared towards older couples. Dinner service started at 5 pm and ended at 7 pm. After dinner, the community rolled up the sidewalks and went to bed. It was hardly the romantic trip of their dreams.
…Do Remember: Your Honeymoon is supposed to about you!
Don't let someone take that choice away from you. You only get ONE honeymoon! Don't settle for something that doesn't make your heart sing.
DON'T LET THE "GORGEOUS" PHOTOGRAPHS FOOL YOU…
Every resort and island has gorgeous pictures; even the crappy resorts have great pictures! You have to understand; a good photographer can make any place look beautiful. Were the photos taken when the resort was new? Were they taken before the hurricane that devastated the island last year? Have they been photoshopped and tuned?
…Do know that pictures don't tell the whole story!
The job of the Tourist Boards and resorts is casting the most favorable light on their product. Reality can be vastly different from the glossy photos you see on the web site or in the brochures. Your best bet is to work with a travel advisor who travels regularly and keeps abreast of current conditions on the ground.
DON'T PLAN YOUR HONEYMOON ALL ALONE...
Couples often divvy up the wedding details. "I will pick the decor if you choose the caterer." Planning a wedding takes thousands of decisions, so splitting up the work makes sense. You also have to consider the concerns of your guests. A honeymoon is an entirely different animal. If only one of you plan the trip, you run the risk that one of you is going to be very disappointed. I can attest to this fact. My husband and I have different travel styles. He wants to try every adventure a destination has to offer from shark diving to mountain climbing he's onboard. I want to sit in a palapa and have gorgeous men that don't speak a word of English ply me with adult beverages.
…Do Remember: You are starting a life together.
It's not your fiancé's job to plan the honeymoon. You both need to be involved in the planning. I suggest dreaming separately and planning together. But how would you do that? I have a honeymoon quiz that I can send you. Each of you should fill it out without input from the other person. Then go to your favorite restaurant and reconcile the lists. Give and take makes for a great marriage and superb honeymoon.
DON'T BE SELFISH ABOUT YOUR HONEYMOON…
As I said, give and take makes your honeymoon perfect. I had a groom that loved history, specifically World War II history. He was planning the honeymoon all by himself (as you now know, this is a recipe for disaster). So when he finally came to me for some logistical help, his trip consisted of driving from one battle site to another, interspersed with a few museums. My first question was: "Does your fiancee also love history?" and the answer was, "not really, but she said she wants me to do everything I want since I have wanted to make this trip forever."
...Do Remember The Honeymoon Must Satisfy Both of You
No, one is going to be happy with a honeymoon that doesn't address any of their desires. I fixed the logistical issues the groom's itinerary, but also added romance and sites that had nothing to do with WWII. For instance, in Amsterdam, I changed the hotel to a resort with a spa on the Canal. Yes, he got to go to Anne's Franke's house, but I added a private canal cruise and a trip to gardens so the bride could see the tulips. The groom was happier with my itinerary than the one he had done, and the bride was thrilled to have more of her desires fulfilled. A great honeymoon is balanced.
DON'T STEP DOWN ON YOUR HONEYMOON…
Two years ago, I had a couple that was both attorneys. They had been planning their dream wedding for two years and had already postponed the wedding once because they couldn't get the photographer they wanted. I was surprised by the results of the honeymoon quiz. The bride wanted a dream trip to Japan. She wanted to go to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Okinawa. The groom wanted a cabin in Tennessee. After spending $150,000 on the wedding, he wanted a honeymoon that was in the $2,000 range. The bride was furious, and I was astounded.
…Do Take a Honeymoon that Reflects Your Level of Taste.
Many couples wonder why the honeymoon they booked turns out to be disappointing. It's straightforward – you can't get a BMW for Echo prices. A smart couple will pick a destination that fits taste level, and pay the price that comes with that destination. So how did I solve the Tokyo versus Tennessee honeymoon? After digging a little deeper into the groom's desires, I found out that he needed a break from the wedding and stress. He was worried about a trip to Japan would be all go go go without stop. I asked him to give me a couple of days, and I would plan a journey that would be perfect for them both. They had 12 days expected for the honeymoon. In my itinerary, I split the time between Tokyo (4 nights) Kyoto (4 nights), and for the last four nights of the trip, I had them in Hakone on Mt Fuji. She got to experience the culture and romance of Japan, and the groom got to relax in the mountains. Yes, the price was higher than $2,000, but they both had the experience that they wanted.
There are my do's and don'ts of honeymoon planning. What honeymoon debacles are you hoping to avoid?