Who Pays for the Honeymoon: The Definitive Answer

Budgets and registries aren't only for the big day.
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
The Knot Contributor
  • Dina writes for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in food, travel and relationships.
  • With more than 20 years of experience in service journalism, she also pens articles and recipes for publications, such as Good Housekeeping, Parents, SELF, Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Prevention, Fine Cooking, Weight Watchers and Diabetic Living.
  • Dina graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University and The Institute of Cul...
Updated Jul 22, 2021

Honeymoons are getaways of a lifetime. The wedding expense is often sizable—the average price of a honeymoon in 2019 was $5,000, according to a study of more than 27,000 couples who married in 2019. Therefore, saving for this once-in-a-lifetime, dream trip requires some diligence. Read on for sanity-preserving tips for how to tackle this ultimate splurge.

Begin with a realistic budget.

As a first step in budgeting for a honeymoon, couples should assess their financial situation honestly. Wedding costs like the engagement party, rehearsal dinner, bachelor party, bridal shower, wedding dress, and the big day itself can create added financial stress to honeymoon planning. As with wedding planning tactics, couples should turn to proper budgeting and scheduling to maximize their honeymoon expenses and more.

The specific budget allocated to the trip can then inform honeymoon ideas; for example, a larger budget opens up the possibility of a luxury safari in South Africa, a stay at an eco-lodge in Costa Rica, a cruise through Southeast Asia, or a two-week spa getaway to some remote locale. On the other end of the spectrum, a smaller fund could mean glamping in a national park, staying at a cozy B&B for a long weekend, or renting an apartment for a week-long stay in a dream city. Nothing is more disappointing than coming up with a list of dream vacation spots and realizing that many are out-of-reach financially.

Don't focus on traditional etiquette 'rules' when determining who pays for the honeymoon

With traditional wedding etiquette, it was up to the groom or one partner to pay for the honeymoon, says Lisa Mirza Grotts, a certified etiquette professional with the International Society of Protocol and Etiquette Professionals. Since it was expected the bride's family pay for the wedding, often, the groom or the other partner, along with their parents, ended up paying for the honeymoon.
Of course, it's 2021. Today's weddings look quite different from the nuptials of decades' past. "There are no hard and fast rules about who pays for what, like everything else with weddings these days," says Nick Leighton, host of the weekly etiquette podcast, Were You Raised By Wolves?

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First, since many couples are waiting until they're a bit older and more established in their careers before getting married, explains etiquette expert, Liz Bryant, it's far more appropriate for newlyweds to foot the bill for their own honeymoons. In fact, according to Leighton, couples are paying for their weddings. However, if the newlyweds are young and their parents are in a position to help fund the honeymoon, Bryant feels their assistance is completely acceptable.

Alternatively, couples can create honeymoon registries for wedding gifts, so their guests can provide the funds.

Consider a honeymoon registry.

If the newlyweds or their family members aren't paying for the honeymoon, the couple is encouraged to create a honeymoon registry or fund. All-in-one registries that include cash funds, like The Knot Registry, allow wedding guests to purchase components of honeymoons, such as airfare, a massage, sunset cruise, helicopter ride or a sweet, romantic dinner. Those on the guestlist close to the couple—such as bridesmaids, groomsmen, and other wedding party members—will likely appreciate the option to gift particularly memorable experiences.

Such funds are ideal for couples who aren't in need of china, crystal, luggage, flatware, and other items common in a traditional wedding registry (as with people marrying later in life or embarking on second or third marriages). That said, since some wedding guests prefer to gift items rather than money, it's wise to opt for an all-in-one registry (encompassing a fund plus goods) or to use two registries: a honeymoon fund and a traditional wedding registry. Any honeymoon costs not covered by the honeymoon fund can be sourced from couples' savings accounts or charged on their credit cards.

Know how honeymoon funds differ.

Since honeymoon registries have become so common and differ in options and fees, it's worth researching and weighing out the pros and cons of various options. Consider a fund that lets wedding guests designate their contribution for a specific item, such as a catamaran ride, upgrade to first-class airfare, or tickets to the theater.

Some registries even allow groups (such as wedding parties) to fund big-ticket items, like airfare. It's also important to look at the fine print. Some registries offer multiple ways for couples to receive gifts, whether cash, check and custom payments.

Accept help from family members (if you'd like).

Sometimes, parents will want to actively help you reach your dream destination, whether it be the Seychelles or Bora Bora. "It's entirely up to the couple to decide if taking the money is really worth it," says Leighton.

Bryant recommends to-be-weds have a conversation, especially if the parents offer to fund the trip and want to help select the honeymoon destination. "Maybe it was where they spent their own honeymoon," she says, "or for some reason, they have an affinity for a particular place." Discovering their motivations can help inform couples' decisions about whether or not to accept their offer.

If a couple decides to gently decline their honeymoon expenses offer, do it in a way that is gracious. "Explain that, while you appreciate their generosity, you really have your heart set on another destination and it's important to both of you to kick off your married life in that location," Bryant suggests. Of course, you can always keep them apprised of your honeymoon planning process, so they feel included.

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