Your honeymoon, no matter where you go or what you do, will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable, magical and momentous trips of your lives. It is one of the few big things that you can work on in the lull between booking your venue and vendors, and the big day itself. Take advantage of that time to plan, and if you're not sure where to start, just thinking about your 5 W's (and an H) for Basic Information Gathering:
Typically, this is an easy 1st question to answer. The bride and groom are the who, because it's your honeymoon! However, if you're having a destination wedding and family members/friends will be staying after the I Do's, you may want to consider who else will be around when planning your trip.
You could also plan a special trip with friends or family members that you will consider your 'honeymoon' trip, even though it's not just the two of you. Just be sure to plan some quality alone time!
What...kind of trip are you imagining? What...is your budget?
A good 2nd question, you and your guy/gal should sit down early in your engagement and discuss what type of honeymoon you'd like to have. Do you want a tropical getaway? A snowcation? A mini-moon (a smaller version of a honeymoon, likely closer to home)? A trip to a big city? A cruise? A European backpacking/hostel adventure? A romantic Parisian trip? Are there countries you've always dreamed of visiting? The possibilities for your honeymoon are endless and totally up you. You may have different visions and dreams here, so find one that you can agree on and know that you'll have the rest of your lives to continue your travels together.
Your budget is important to consider here, because while you may have visions of laying on a beach in Fiji, your funds just may not allow it, and you don't want to spend all of your money immediately after your wedding. If somebody is helping you pay for your honeymoon, or gifting part of your trip to you, graciously communicate with them along the way and work together to get everything figured out as far in advance as possible. If you do not have anyone helping and you do not know what your budget will be for the honeymoon, consider a low-key honeymoon or mini-moon. This can save a lot of money, and will allow you to get on your feet as a married couple so that you can save for a bigger trip for your 1st anniversary! Plus, if you don't know your budget, you're safer spending less on your honeymoon and potentially having extra money in the bank, than the opposite. There's also an option to register at a travel agency and give wedding guests the opportunity to contribute to your dream honeymoon.
Where...will you stay? Where...do you want to go once you get there?
Again, this is something you can research in the middle of your engagement. Once you've chosen your destination, your first steps in booking (.yeah!) are to secure your hotel/room/sleeping arrangements, and to book your flights if you'll be flying. Also, consider whether you'll be renting a car, and find the best deals in advance if so. I can tell you from experience that you'll pay at least twice as much if you get to your destination and decide to rent a car there, than if you do it from home beforehand. Will you want to drive around? How much would it be to take a cab to and from your day-to-day activities? If your ideal trip involves sitting on the beach and at the pool at your all-inclusive resort, there's a good chance you won't need a car, but if that's not the case, you may want to consider it. There's a freedom and luxury to being able to drive out to a grocery store instead of 'shopping' at your hotel's convenience shop. Something to consider.
Then you can look up some activities, restaurants and hot spots and be sure to ask friends and family for their recommendations. Visit wedding boards online and see what other couples have enjoyed in the same place. Consider what you like to do and find out whether you need to book it in advance or you can decide when you get there. If you're traveling to an area where you have family or friends, consider contacting them in advance and seeing if you can arrange a day/time to meet up and do something together.
When...will your honeymoon take place? When...will you pack?
Traditionally, the bride and groom have been given a great send-off from their wedding, left to go right to an airport and flown off to their honeymoon destination. Luckily for us (I get stressed just thinking about that!), this has changed over time. What we're seeing more and more is a couple planning their honeymoon a few days after the wedding (allowing them to enjoy the entire wedding weekend with guests, giving them a little extra time to get ready for their trip and possibly even put some checks into the bank before they go away) or even a few WEEKS after. Some couples- based on their schedules- are taking a few days after the wedding to relax, relive, rejoice and recuperate (a must!) and then heading back to work before a honeymoon that may take place sometime in the next YEAR. Whatever works for you is what's right, so pick what works and go with it!
If you are planning to leave right from your wedding, you'll want to do some super packing before the wedding weekend. Make sure you have everything that you need about 2 weeks in advance, have a separate bag for the honeymoon and move over any last minute things before the wedding ceremony begins. If you're leaving a few days after, you'll still want to have everything that you'll need in advance so you're not rushing around at the last minute, looking for a bathing suit in October when there aren't any in the stores. Plan ahead here, and you'll be golden. If the trip is weeks or months away, you can relax but still be in an ongoing planning phase for what you'll wear or need.
Why...do we go on a honeymoon?
According to Wikipedia,
This is the period when newly wed couples take a break to share some private and intimate moments that helps establish love in relationship. This privacy in turn is believed to ease the comfort zone towards physical relationship, which is one of the primary means of bonding during the initial days of marriage.
In Western culture, the custom of a newlywed couple going on a holiday together originated in early 19th century Great Britain. Upper-class couples would take a "bridal tour", sometimes accompanied by friends or family, to visit relatives who had not been able to attend the wedding. The practice soon spread to the European continent and was known as voyage à la façon anglaise in France from the 1820s on.
Honeymoons in the modern sense (i.e. a pure holiday voyage undertaken by the married couple) became widespread during the Belle Époque as one of the first instances of modern mass tourism. This came about in spite of initial disapproval by contemporary medical opinion (which worried about women's frail health) and by savoir vivre guidebooks (which referred the public attention drawn to what was assumed to be the wife's sexual initiation). The most popular honeymoon destinations at the time were the French Riviera and Italy, particularly its seaside resorts and romantic cities such as Rome, Verona or Venice.And what about the word 'honeymoon'?
The Oxford English Dictionary gives examples dating back to the 16th century suggesting that the etymology of the word honeymoon comes from the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest.
How...excited are you?
Once you have the big stuff nailed down, the details in mind and the dates in your calendar, relax and get excited!! You're going to have an amazing time with your new husband or wife, and you will have the last few weeks before the wedding to focus on the wedding itself. Phew!
*PASSPORT NOTE: If you'll be traveling outside of the country, you'll need a current passport. Passports are good for 10 years, and take some time to get, so plan to do this a few months in advance. Visit http://travel.state.gov/passport/ for information on getting and updating your passport then get ready to collect some stamps!!