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7 Ways to Afford a Honeymoon After A Budget-Busting Wedding

It’s the financial conundrum of many married couples in the making. The caterer is finalized, the programs are printed, and the rings are sized and ready to be exchange. You navigated the murky waters of wedding budgeting, and emerged relatively unscathed. But the “big day” did a number on your bank account. How to pay for that honeymoon?

According to TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com 2010 Honeymoon Study, couples spend $4,466 on their entire honeymoon, on average; international honeymoons generally cost more than $5,200. Here are seven ways to save on your honeymoon, so you can have your proverbial (wedding) cake, and honeymoon too!

1. Maximize credit card points

The key to maximizing hotel and airfare credit card reward points is to find and secure the best card that suits your needs well before wedding planning and purchases are underway. Use the credit card to pay for as many wedding expenses as possible, along with everything else you buy. WARNING: This strategy only works if you commit to paying the card off IN FULL each month, to avoid paying interest rate charges that will undermine your honeymoon savings.

Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of credit card comparison site CardHub recommends the British Airways Credit Card, which provides 50,000 bonus miles if you charge $2,500 in credit card purchases during the first three months of card ownership. (That amount is enough to earn a round-trip ticket to London).  He also likes the Continental Airlines One Pass Plus and the Citi Gold/AA Advantage World MasterCard credit card, which awards enough bonus miles for a free round-trip domestic flight, if you spend $750 within a few months of card activation. Papadimitriou also reminds honeymooners traveling abroad to make sure their credit card does not charge additional fees for transactions made in foreign countries.

2. Honeymoon near your wedding site

Destination weddings are particularly great for the honeymoon plans that follow, simply because you may find yourself much closer to an interesting vacation spot. Inquire with the event planner or concierge at your reception site about where other couples have honeymooned, to generate creative ideas of alternative honeymoon locales.

3. Skip the hotel

Sites like Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) offer thousands of beautiful vacation properties that can be rented directly from the property owner. Not only do most offer detailed pictures of the property so you know exactly what you’re getting into, going the vacation rental route can ultimately result in significantly lower costs than a hotel will charge. Further, such homes often include free parking, laundry facilities, and kitchens complete with utensils, glasses and cookware, so that you can share some romantic and cozy nights dining in.

4. Establish (and promote! ) A honeymoon registry

Scott Ellingboe, president of honeymoon registry site The Honeymoon, says a honeymoon registry is “ the only gifting option that can help an impecunious couple bolster their honeymoon budget without coming out and directly asking for money as a wedding gift.” He explains that guests enjoy a honeymoon registry because it provides a chance to personalize gift selection to the couple’s preferences, and give them a memorable experience. Gifts on the registry can include all things “honeymoon-oriented,” from a room upgrade to a day of sailing, to cocktails or a bottle of wine with dinner. Most major chains such as Marriott, HyattSandals and Wyndham offer their own in-house honeymoon registries.

To encourage use of the registry, Ellingboe suggests incorporating a honeymoon theme into bridal showers to spread the word to attendees that the honeymoon-themed gifts are preferred.

5. Plan your stops ahead of time

Online travel websites like Stay.com allow you to research sites and tours at your honeymoon destination, and select your preferred activities to create a free, printable and completely customizable travel guide. Once you know what sites are on your honeymoon agenda, research for deals and social networking coupons to avoid paying full price. The site also provides suggested hotels based on your preferences and preferred pit stops, so you can avoid wasting money and time traveling long distances by taxi or car.

6. Be flexible

Last-minute travels deals present a great opportunity to save money on a honeymoon, as long as you’re not “married” to one particular location, or time of year to take your honeymoon. Kristin Koch, TheKnot.com senior editor, also suggests that honeymooners willing to be flexible on time take advantage of “shoulder seasons,” which are right on the cusp of high and low season. During this time, prices are more reasonable because there’s far less demand, but the weather is still appealing.  Koch also suggests considering all-inclusive resort options, and reminds honeymooners without a specific travel destination in mind that a travel agent is still a money-saving resource over booking flights and hotels on your own.

7. Be “that” couple

“We’re honeymooners!” That phrase could save you lots of money—so say it often! While there are no hard-and-fast rules around the “newlywed discount,” Koch says “it’s worth telling the receptionist you’ll be spending your first days of married life with them. We’ve heard of couples getting complimentary room upgrades. It’s also worth dropping the ‘h-word’ when you’re at airport check-in. And, any bartender’s bound to offer a round on the house.”

Stephanie Taylor Christensen is a former financial services marketer based in Columbus, OH. The founder of Wellness On Less, she also writes on small business, consumer interest, wellness, career and personal finance topics.