If you’re in the middle of wedding planning, chances are you’re feeling strapped for cash.
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We can all agree that thanks to the pandemic, 2020 and 2021 were not your typical wedding years. But, according to over 25,000 US couples who were married in 2019, a wedding cost $30,000 on average — and that doesn’t take into account the honeymoon, which cost an additional $5,000 on average.
In short, weddings (and honeymoons) aren’t cheap.
But don’t worry! You can still book an amazing trip — even one with a few honeymoon-worthy bells and whistles — for much less. It all depends on where you go and what you do.
Want to visit Paris in June? Or Hawaii over Christmas? Well, so does everyone else, which means flight prices and hotel rates will be sky-high. But if you travel during a destination’s shoulder season, not only will you pay less, but you’ll avoid high-season crowds and enjoy deserted beaches and photobomb-free selfies.
As soon as you know where you want to go, you can track flights using Google Flights or plug in your destination and dates to an app like Hopper that will notify you when prices drop on flights and hotels — saving you up to 70%. If you’re open to go anywhere with good prices, sign up for the newsletter from Scott’s Cheap Flights. They’ll send you alerts for cheap flights departing from your preferred airports.
Need some inspiration? These destinations tend to be more affordable, but still offer the luxurious touches you’d expect on your honeymoon.
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Ready. Set. Go!
1.El Jaibalito, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Guatemala is home to volcanoes, rainforests, and ancient Mayan sites. With plenty of outdoor activities like hiking Volcán San Pedro, this is the perfect destination for an active couple that loves to explore.
Where to stay: La Casa del Mundo on Lake Atitlán is only accessible by foot or by boat and has volcano views (from $70/night).
What to do: Sit in the lakeside hot tub or hike around the lake to the nearby village of San Pablo La Laguna. For a fun day trip, take a bus to Chichicastenango, and eat your way through the Chichicastenango Market.
Portugal is home to amazing food, beautiful beaches, and architecture that dates back to the 1500s. Cruise the cobblestone streets hand-in-hand, and make sure to eat your fill of pastel de nata, a delicious Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon.
Where to stay: The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Lisbon – Fontana Park is close to the historical city center and a short walk from the vibrant, bohemian neighborhood of Bairro Alto (from $116/night).
What to do: Take the historic 28E tram through Alfama, Baixa, and Chiado districts (around $3/ride), making sure to hop off at Portas do Sol so you can enjoy the views. From there, walk to the city’s most visible landmark — St. George’s Castle.
3.Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Experiencing the immensity and beauty of the Grand Canyon is an easy bucket list item. Since it’s a domestic destination, you can get a jump on your one-on-one quality time together with a road trip to and from the park.
Where to stay: It doesn’t get much closer than Maswik Lodge on the canyon’s south rim (from $100/night).
What to do: Walk the rim trail or tackle the Bright Angel Trail — and of course, get plenty of photos.
4.Vieques, Puerto Rico
Just off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast sits Vieques, a small island populated by secluded beaches, snorkeling, and wild horses that roam the countryside. It doesn’t get more romantic than that.
Where to stay: Spend the evenings holed up in a private cottage with ocean views that’s a short walk to a secluded beach (from $125/night). This is honeymooning at its best.
What to do: Take a clear-bottom kayak out in the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay ($60/person), or cross the island and spend the day beach hopping — favorites include Playa La Chiva and Playa Caracas.
This village on Mexico’s Pacific coast has it all — mountains, surf, art, and wildlife. It’s the perfect place to cozy up on the beach and nosh on cheap tacos and beer.
Where to stay: This sunny apartment is a six-minute walk to the beach, but far enough away to provide a quiet, romantic escape (from $15/night).
What to do: Try out a one-hour surfboard rental ($7), and then cruise around town eating $1 tacos and drinking cheap beer.
For a quiet, coastal getaway, it doesn’t get much better than Maine. Eat your fill of lobster and soak up the small, seaside town vibe.
Where to stay: Stay in a historic 1790 carriage barn that’s just minutes from the beach and downtown Kennebunkport ($130/night).
What to do: Pickup a surfboard and brave the waters ($20 for a half day), or rent a tandem kayak ($50 for a half day) and cruise around the harbor. For a lazy beach day, visit Goose Rocks Beach and Arundel Beach.
7.Uvero Alto, Dominican Republic
On the Dominican Republic’s eastern point (just north of Punta Cana) is this laid-back village that’s home to high-end resorts and entertainment-laden casinos.
Where to stay: Skip the crowded resorts and cozy up with your lover in this retro thatched hut that’s surrounded by palm trees and the turquoise blue sea (from $110/night).
What to do: Spend your days relaxing in your secluded home away from home, and take advantage of the included beach gear to swim around in the crystal clear waters.
8.Nassau, The Bahamas
This ecological oasis is comprised of 700 islands and over 2,000 rocks and cays. There’s plenty to explore, but no judgment if you opt to spend every day snuggled up to your honey on the beach.
Where to stay: At the British Colonial Hilton, downtown Nassau’s only beachfront property, you can enjoy the convenience of downtown sacrificing a luxe beachfront stay (from $175/night).
What to do: Hop on the ferry to Paradise Island and spend the day at Paradise Beach or Cove Beach. For a day in downtown Nassau, visit the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas ($10) and swing by John Watling’s Distillery for a cocktail and a free tour. If you’ve got it in your budget to splurge, head to Exuma, where you’ll visit a private island, see stingrays and sharks, enjoy unlimited drinks — and yes, see the famous Exuma swimming pigs ($219 per person).
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9.Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
About a quarter of Costa Rica is made up of protected jungle, making this rugged, rainforested country all the more appealing.
Where to stay: It doesn’t get more romantic than this beachside jungle bungalow with private beach access ($75/night).
What to do: Sit back in the hammocks and listen for monkeys, or head down to the beach to swim in the natural pools. You’ll find some of the area’s best surf spots just a short walk down the beach.
10.Charleston, South Carolina
Pastel houses, cobblestone streets, and beachfront stretches are the norm in Charleston, where you can meander through the elegant French Quarter before taking in the history at Fort Sumter.
Where to stay: The historic Ashley Inn near upper King Street (where all the action is) was built in 1852. If you can, request a room with a veranda ($122/night).
What to do: Pack a picnic and head to Waterfront Park, where you can sit on a bench swing and take the Charleston harbor views while you nosh (free). For a wine-fueled afternoon, head to Deep Water Vineyard on Wadmalaw Island, and go on a “choose your own adventure” tasting tour ($10/per person).
Vancouver sort of has it all. It’s surrounded by mountains and water, but also has thriving art, theatre, and music scenes. Track flights or hop in the car and get a jump on your honeymoon bonding.
Where to stay: Stay in the heart of downtown in this swanky Airbnb (from $85/night).
What to do: Walk through colorful Davie Village and pick up a coffee at Melriches Coffeehouse, and then walk along Sunset Beach Park until you find a city bike ($12 for a 24-hour pass). From there, cruise via bike toward the Vancouver Seawall for top-notch views.
12.Soufrière, Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is a popular honeymoon destination, and once you touch down on the island it’s easy to see why. This Caribbean paradise is home to beaches, dramatic mountains, and hot springs.
Where to stay: You can look over the bay and the iconic Gros Piton from your private patio at this hillside villa (around $85/night).
What to do: Spend the morning hiking Gros Piton and the afternoon at the beach. Or visit Sulphur Springs Park — Oprah apparently did it! — for a volcanic mud bath and a soak in the natural hot spring pools ($100/person).
13.Key Largo, Florida
The first and northernmost of the Florida Keys, Key Largo is accessible but still feels worlds away from the bustling mainland.
Where to stay: Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton stretches along the leafy Florida Bay on Key Largo (around $300/night).
What to do: Go snorkeling or paddleboarding around the resort, or book a car to Everglades National Park to see alligators ($30 to enter with a car, $15 on foot).
14.Yosemite National Park, California
In what is arguably the most iconic national park in the US, you’ll find ancient sequoia trees and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. It’s a perfect destination for climbers or couples who are up for a little adventure.
Where to stay: Skip the long drive and lines, and stay within the park at this cozy studio — with a fridge packed with snacks and breakfast foods ($99/night).
What to do: Take a drive to the park’s viewpoints — Tunnel View, Olmsted Point, and Glacier Point — or make plans to hike the Half Dome, Mirror Lake, or Yosemite Falls Trail.
15.Boston Bay, Jamaica
Jamaica has it all — good vibes, mountains, rainforest, and beaches. And because of its location and relative low cost of living, it’s easy to find cheap flights and keep your spending in check once you’re there.
Where to stay: For a totally unique stay, book the multi-story eco cottage with views over Boston Bay. From your romantic oasis, you can walk to your own private beach and lounge by the property’s infinity pool ($200/night).
What to do: If you want to really save, spend your days at the beach (ahem, see above). But when you need a little more action, book a surf lesson with Dwayne, who has surfed Boston Bay his whole life ($40), and pick up a plate of the area’s famous jerk.
Where did you go on your honeymoon? Any tips for people planning theirs? Share in the comments!
Photo taken in Zgornje Jezersko, Slovenia
Marko Klaric / Getty Images/EyeEm
Aerial view of a young couple holding hands and snorkeling in a turquoise clear sea
Saowakhon Brown / Getty Images