My little sister got married almost two years ago, and I had the incredible privilege of being her maid of honor. (Okay, so her best friend was actually her maid of honor, and I was her “matron of honor,” but that made me feel ancient, so I just called myself the “other maid of honor.”)
I loved getting to walk my little sister through the process of planning her wedding. It’s such an ENORMOUS task, so, as most of us do, she found herself totally overwhelmed at times. I’m so glad I could be there to help.
One area she was particularly overwhelmed by was her honeymoon. She just couldn't imagine planning a vacation on top of everything else she was trying to figure out. So I offered to plan it for her.
And while I was researching hotels and flights, I remembered how much more there is to a honeymoon than just where you’re going to stay. I hadn’t realized how much I'd learned by planning and going on my own honeymoon, so while I was sharing all of my best advice with my sister, I also wrote it down to share with you too!
If you’re planning a honeymoon anytime soon, these are my very best honeymoon tips for you.
Actually go on a Honeymoon
If you can, take a honeymoon. Lots of people put it off, thinking, “We'll do it next year, or when we have more time or more money.” And I totally get that. But I do think that you and your new husband will really appreciate some uninterrupted quality time together once the wedding is all over.
The truth is, planning a wedding is SO MUCH WORK! Yes, it's time that you and your fiance are spending together, but it's not quality time where you’re just enjoying one another. Even on the wedding weekend, you might barely see each other! And to then move on from such a gigantic life event (where it's all about the two of you, but you're not really getting to connect as just the two of you) and straight into normal life — it's just a lot.
With everything in me, I recommend couples take at LEAST three days, if not a week, after their wedding to have uninterrupted time together, rest, and reconnect post-wedding. I’d even try to keep a day or two open once you get back home to get settled in there as well. This little stretch of time is a great moment to catch your breath, decompress, and transition into married life. Carl and I even turned off our phones for the whole week of our honeymoon, and it was so great!
Make your Honeymoon an Easy Trip
This will be a much-needed getaway, so be kind to yourselves by making it as easy of a trip as possible. First, choose a destination that’s easy to get to. We were living in Atlanta when we got married, and, from there, it’s a quick non-stop flight to the Dominican Republic, so that’s where we decided to go. I do have friends who went to places that were much further away, but after planning a wedding and going through such an exhausting (but wonderful!) weekend, the last thing I wanted to do was deal with layovers, possible delays during those layovers, or jet lag. So, instead, I chose what sounded most simple and enjoyable to me. You don’t even have to leave the country or fly on a plane at all if you don’t want to deal with airports and strict schedules.
That said, if you do choose to fly somewhere, I’d recommend avoiding flights that leave first thing in the morning after your wedding day. Carl and I left for our honeymoon the day after our wedding, and our flight was scheduled for somewhere around 11AM. But then we had trouble with the car that was supposed to take us from the wedding reception to the hotel, so we didn’t get to the hotel until 2AM, which left us very little time for our wedding night. And then we had to get up early in the morning to pack and leave for the airport. I’m so glad we didn’t schedule our flight any earlier! Even if you don’t have any delays or disruptions like we did, you’ll appreciate the extra rest and the ability to slowly get going in the morning.
Also, I loved staying at an all-inclusive resort during our honeymoon, because the last thing we wanted to do after the most expensive day of our lives was pay for anything else. Having everything prepaid and included was so helpful.
Side note: When you’re traveling on your honeymoon, you’ll still use your same passport and ID. I’d never thought through this, but your name doesn’t actually change until you go in and legally change it. So even though you’re married now, your old ID and Passport will work just perfectly. And you can deal with all of the name-change paperwork when you get back.
Pack Your Honeymoon Bag before the Wedding
I wish I had made sure my honeymoon bag was completely packed before starting our wedding weekend. Instead, all of my honeymoon things and my wedding things were all jumbled up together. Then on my wedding day, in between doing my hair and makeup, I was crouched on the ground, repacking my bag and trying to figure out what was honeymoon stuff and what wasn’t and how I would get it in the car before we needed to leave.
It would have made life so much easier if that had already been taken care of ahead of time. And I probably wouldn't have had to scour the Atlanta airport for hair ties and sunglasses—both of which I had somehow forgotten.
Don’t Expect Too Much of Yourselves
So often, we feel like our honeymoon needs to be the best vacation of our lives. It should be the sweetest time ever with our husband. Every detail should be perfect. After all, isn’t the honeymoon supposed to set the tone for the rest of our marriage?
Thinking like this puts so much pressure on the two of you while you’re planning and while you’re on the trip itself. So take off the pressure. Think of it this way—this might be your first vacation as a married couple, but it won't be your last. And it doesn’t have to be the best. Just like your New Year’s celebration doesn’t actually set the tone for your whole year, your honeymoon getaway doesn’t set the tone for your whole marriage either.
I’ll be honest with you. Our honeymoon wasn't the best trip of my entire life. But it was the one I needed the most. Treat your honeymoon as more of a spa week, a time to recharge and reconnect. The best trip of your life can happen later. Let this trip just be about rest and quality time together. You’ll experience enough pressure planning the wedding and then transitioning into married life. The last thing you need is the added pressure of planning the best vacation you’ll ever have.
Give Yourself Permission to Feel Differently than You Expected
If you're anything like me, you expect yourself to feel a certain way on really special days. (I always feel like I should be in the best mood ever on my birthday and it always adds a heap of unnecessary pressure!) I mean, it's your honeymoon, so shouldn’t you feel more in love than ever before? No. You do not need to feel any certain way. Let yourself feel what you feel.
You’re starting a major life transition. You just finished a very busy few months of planning and then lived through a whirlwind past week, and now, all of a sudden, you’re getting to stop the constant motion and just be with your new husband. It's a lot to take in without much time to adjust to it.
Something I felt on our honeymoon that totally surprised me was a bit of loneliness. I was really happy to be with Carl, of course. But there were lots of friend groups vacationing together at our resort, and since we had just finished a weekend where all our family and friends were in one place, I kind of missed my friends on our honeymoon! (How's that for something people never talk about?)
Lastly, if you guys get into an argument or don't always get along the entire week or even feel like you each need some alone time along the way, that is totally fine. It doesn’t mean your marriage is in trouble. Again, this is a major transition. No matter what beautiful, peaceful location you’re in, you are still two separate (and tired!) people in their very first week of marriage.
Just know that you both might feel emotions you aren’t expecting. So let yourself feel what you need to feel and be sure to communicate those feelings with each other. You're okay!
Talk about Sex
One of the best pieces of advice I was given before our honeymoon was to talk about sex beforehand. I highly recommend talking about what your expectations are, because conflicting expectations that neither one of you are aware of can cause so many hurt feelings and arguments. Also, talk about what your hopes, dreams, and fears around sex are. This conversation will not only help you set expectations, but it'll also make it easier to talk about sex once you're actually on your honeymoon.
I have talked to so many women who are struggling in their sex lives, and a lot of it stems from not being honest from the very start. They didn't tell their new husband that something hurt or didn't feel good. And then before they knew it, months (or even years!) had passed where they weren't enjoying parts of their sex life, and they didn't know what to do. They were torn, because they knew that if they spoke up now, they’d hurt his feelings (wait, we’ve been doing things this way for years, and you’re just now telling me that you don’t like it??), but if they kept quiet, they wouldn’t be able to enjoy their sex lives!
So speak up. Your honeymoon is the perfect time to practice, to talk through it, and to say, “A little more of this, a little less of that!” This is the time to start figuring it out together.
And remember—this is not the peak of your sex life. I know we talk about it like it is. Your honeymoon is supposed to be amazing sex all the time, right? We have such high expectations for this area of our honeymoon, and this only adds to the pressure. But the truth is that this is the very beginning of your married sex life. Sex will get better and better as you get to know each other’s preferences. So take all that pressure of movie-worthy sex scenes during your honeymoon off yourself. This is only the beginning. Think of this as the pre-season, not the Super Bowl.
Oh, and make sure to hit the bathroom after you have sex each time. Nothing kills a honeymoon quite like a UTI.
If the thought of planning a honeymoon on top of planning your wedding is just too much, ask for help! Like I said, I planned my little sister's honeymoon for her. I just picked a few destinations for them to choose from, then I picked three hotels for them to choose from, and then I booked the one they chose! This is a great thing to ask your maid of honor to do. It's an easy way for her to help—especially if she's traveled a lot. But if you’re not comfortable with asking a friend to do it, you could also hire my friend Bri! She plans the most beautiful trips for people and takes care of everything for them. Talk about stress-free planning!
Wishing you a wonderful honeymoon, friends. (Remember: It doesn’t have to be perfect!!)
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