Back in July, a month before our wedding, I sat down with Steven to discuss honeymoon possibilities. Europe? A tropical island? Do we even want to have one? At the time, booking a honeymoon was just another component of my wedding to-do list, and the idea of finding a place, spending more money, and dealing with the additional packing on top of the wedding stressed me out. Overwhelmed, we decided to push the topic aside to deal with later.
Two weeks went by, and the idea of a honeymoon was still in my mind. I knew I’d regret not having one, and I also knew that if we didn’t plan one now, it might never happen. I decided to revisit the topic and get something on the calendar. After discussing various options, we narrowed our search to Hawaii and from there chose Maui. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but Steven lived in Maui before we met (ironically, in a house five minutes from our resort) and had a list of his favorite restaurants, tourist attractions, and beaches for us to visit. We chose a date two months out, found a resort, and booked the trip, just two weeks before the wedding!
Well, now it’s November, and we just got back from our honeymoon last week! We had so much fun and I wanted to share some advice on planning a honeymoon. These are half tips we followed, and half tips we wish we’d followed, so learn from our mistakes! Here are my top 10 “must do’s” when planning a honeymoon:
1. Do your research
We spent a lot of time reading reviews and asking friends who had visited Maui for hotel suggestions. This is great for narrowing down your options, but when it comes to selecting a place you have to think about what fits your wish list. The most important factors for me are entertainment and a place that has lots of things to explore, including shops, multiple pools, restaurants, and a nearby beach.
Through our research, we found three resorts, all similarly priced, highly rated, and located right next to each other in Wailea. Out of the three, we selected our resort because it had more pools and a larger outdoor area compared to the others. During our stay, we ventured to the two other hotels we considered, and while both were nice, they lacked the entertainment, pools, and activity we were seeking for our honeymoon. This was confirmation that we had made the right decision for us. The point is: do your research. A resort may be highly rated, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
2. Book under the correct name
If you plan on changing your last name prior to your honeymoon, make sure to book your tickets under your new name. Keep in mind the name change process can take a few weeks, so if you are worried you won’t have updated identification in time, book your trip under your maiden name. The name on your ticket must match your ID – that includes your passport if you are traveling out of the country.
3. Take advantage of honeymoon registries
Whether you set up a “Honeymoon Fund” jar at your wedding or add the option to your registry, there are tons of options to help ease the cost of your trip. Sites like Honeyfund and Honeymoon Wishes make it easy to break down your registry into categories such as airfare, boating excursions, dinner, wine tasting, spa day and more, so your guests can pick where they want to contribute. Make sure to link the registry on your wedding website and invite so your guests can find it!
4. Don’t leave immediately after your wedding
The week following our wedding my body was exhausted! All the stress, excitement, and activity caught up with me and all I wanted to do was rest. On top of that, we had tux rentals to return, thank you cards to write, wedding video edits to review, and all the stuff that has to be done after your wedding that no one tells you about. With so much to do, there is no way I would have been able to enjoy our honeymoon if we left immediately after our wedding. Push your trip out a few weeks and give yourself some time to decompress so you can enjoy your honeymoon and know all your wedding errands are done!
5. Reserve special dinners and excursions in advance
Prior to your trip, make sure to reserve your “must do” excursions and restaurants so you don’t miss out! Once booked, you don’t have to worry about scheduling, and so you can spend your trip relaxing and enjoying your stay. We didn’t want to over schedule our trip, so the only reservation we made in advance was for Mama’s Fish House in Paia. This restaurant was recommended to us by friends, so we planned this dinner as a special honeymoon celebration date night. This place is extremely busy and you need to get reservations if you want to sit at a table. If you don’t have a reservation, most restaurants have seating for walk ins at the bar and offer the same menu.
6. Stop by your hotel concierge upon arrival
If you didn’t plan ahead but are interested in scheduling an excursion or special meal, make sure to visit your hotel concierge ASAP upon arrival. Steven and I learned this the hard way when we waited a few days into our trip before asking about tickets to the hotel’s Luau. By the time we asked, it was already sold out, so we were unable to attend.
7. Be cheesy and wear “honeymoon” shirts
I’m a sucker for engagement, wedding, and “just married” items, so naturally, our honeymoon was no exception. After shopping around on Etsy, I bought two separate pairs of “Hubby” and “Wifey” shirts to wear on our trip (and basically all the time after)! I love these shirts and we had so many people congratulate us, as well as joke that my husband wore the shirt to remember who he was (oddly enough the joke was never made about me). Added bonus: they make for great honeymoon pictures!
8. Advertise your newlywed status
Tell anyone and everyone that you are on your honeymoon! Airlines, hotels, and restaurants often have ways to congratulate you on your honeymoon, but they can only do that if they know you’re on one! Some places may just give you a card or write “congratulations” on your dessert, but sometimes you might get freebies or upgrades on your seat or hotel room. On our honeymoon, we received cards, free desserts, free drinks, waived hotel fees, and lots of congratulations by letting everyone know we were on our honeymoon!
9. Always check the calendar
Before booking your trip, make sure to check if there are any holidays or school vacations around the date you have in mind. Airfare and hotels increase their prices over the holidays and you could end up paying extra and dealing with overcrowded resorts. Children are great, but do you really want them running and screaming around the pool on your romantic vacation? Our honeymoon was during the end of October and although we stayed at a family resort, there were very few kids at that time of year. This was great for us, because we had the water slides all to ourselves (because I’m still a kid at heart).
10. Clean your home before leaving
Clutter stresses me out. To me, there’s nothing worse than coming back from a relaxing vacation and finding my home a mess. Our return flight was later in the afternoon, so we didn’t get back to Seattle until 1AM. At that point, we were tired, hungry, and not in the mood to lose our happy vacation vibes by dealing with a messy house! Just clean your house. Trust me, it’s worth it!