According to a recent survey of nearly 13,000 brides and grooms conducted by The Knot, the average cost of weddings surged to an astounding $35,329 in 2016. While that's a lot of cash, it’s not that crazy when you consider all that’s involved — the dress, the venue, the meal, the cake, an engagement ring, a professional photographer, a bangin’ reception, plus who-knows-what-else.
Interestingly enough, this amount doesn’t include a honeymoon, which seems like it would be just as important as say, a bachelor’s party or rehearsal dinner.
But with many couples spending tens of thousands of dollars on the wedding itself, it’s easy to imagine how honeymoon budgets could get the shaft.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
No matter how much cash you fork over for your wedding, you don’t have to sacrifice the honeymoon of your dreams. Why settle on a weekend in Boise or a sad trip to a local theme park when could celebrate your nuptials in style instead?
Consider these six savings strategies that can help you save half or more:
1. Build up a stash of airline miles
One of the most expensive components of any trip is airfare. Coming up with a comprehensive airline miles strategy can help you save. Figure out where you want to go and the type of airline currency that can get you there, then hatch a plan to get a co-branded airline loyalty credit card.
You can rack up miles fast by putting most of your wedding expenses on a card. Plus, most airline cards offer a healthy signup bonus of miles. Just make sure you pay your bill in full each month so you can avoid credit card interest.
2. Pick up a hotel credit card
While airline credit cards can help you rack up airline miles, the right hotel credit card can also make your honeymoon dreams come true. Not only can you get special status and upgrades at some properties if you carry the co-branded credit card, but you can earn points good for free stays, too.
Consider the Hyatt credit card for free nights at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme or the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, which sits in the remote collection of islands located in the Indian Ocean known as the Maldives. Or, pick up the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card for free stays in Bora Bora, Paris, Barcelona or any number of far-flung destinations on your bucket list.
3. Travel off-peak.
Traveling off-peak is a way to save money on any luxury trip, and that’s true whether you’re paying in cash or airline miles. Why? Because prices are lower but you can also fork over fewer airline miles in some cases.
If you want to fly to Europe for your honeymoon, airfare is generally cheaper outside of the peak summer season, for example. Some airline loyalty programs also offer discounted award tickets for off-peak travel, including the American Airlines AAdvantage program. With AA, you’ll pay 60,000 miles round-trip for a coach flight to Europe for most of the year, but only 45,000 miles round-trip October 15 through May 15 (with exceptions over the holidays).
The key is knowing when off-peak season is for your destination. For Europe, it’s fall, winter, and spring. If you want to go to the Caribbean, you’ll want to travel during late spring, summer, or fall. Other destinations have their own off-peak seasons, so make sure to check.
4. Shop around for deals
If you’re flexible on your location, shopping for deals is a great way to save. Look for discounted airfare deals on websites like TheFlightDeal.com or SecretFlying.com, and check for hotel packages on websites like CheapCaribbean.com or Groupon Getaways.
5. Ask wedding guests to contribute to a honeymoon fund
If you’re stocked up on traditional wedding gifts, why not start a honeymoon fund? Guests can contribute to your fund in lieu of regular gifts, and you get the benefit of fundraising for your once-in-a-lifetime trip.
While a honeymoon fund may have been seen as tacky a decade ago, concepts like this have gained steam over the last few years. You might ruffle a few feathers by asking for cash for a trip, but most people won’t mind.
6. Consider an all-inclusive resort or cruise
Last but not least, couples who plan to marry should consider an all-inclusive trip with your lodging, food and entertainment included in the price. Many all-inclusive resort and cruise options can be a lot more affordable than you think.
Case in point: Mediterranean cruise line MSC Cruises frequently offers seven-night Caribbean cruises $439 per person. Leave from Miami and stop at islands like Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and the Bahamas with food and entertainment included in one low price.
In terms of all-inclusive resorts, you can find inexpensive options in destinations like Cancun, Montego Bay, Nassau, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos, to name a few. Use a website like Expedia.com or CheapCaribbean.com to search, and make sure to consider the cost of airfare to each destination.
With enough time and planning, you can plan the honeymoon of your dreams — and for a price you can actually afford.