Looking for a luxury resort at a bargain price? Choose your wedding date wisely. "If you can travel outside of peak dates such as July, August, and holidays such as Easter and Christmas, almost as a rule airfares will be cheaper, and this applies to almost all destinations worldwide," says Sunway's Marie Claire Porter.
On top of that you'll benefit from low season special offers. "Many beach hotels in Thailand, Malaysia, Bali, Maldives, Mauritius and Sri Lanka have free night offers in their low season, usually from May to October. These are often of the stay five nights, pay three kind," she says.
“People may think you can get a bargain at the last minute but you won’t be so lucky, especially if you are trying to go further afield for a long-haul honeymoon destination. In fact, you will miss out on special offers, the best accommodation, flight options, room choices and, in our case, special early booking rates, so there are great benefits to booking early especially when you are on a tight wedding budget.”
One of the biggest trends in recent years has been for twin-centre honeymoons. Choosing these wisely can really get you more bang for your buck, especially if you go all-inclusive. It means you don’t need to worry about spending once you arrive and it should save you money.
They're much more comprehensive now than they used to be too. "You really don't need to put your hand into your pocket," says Porter, "and let's face it, after the whole build-up of a wedding, sometimes just flaking and being pampered has the desired effect." Popular resorts with lots of all-inclusive hotels include Cancun in Mexico and Caribbean islands such as Barbados, St Lucia and Dominican Republic.
Given the economic recovery, it's no surprise to find spending on honeymoons has increased. "Average spend has gone up and almost all honeymoons combine more than one country," says Jackie Herssens of travel experts Hayes & Jarvis. "Some of the most popular honeymoons we are seeing this year are Indian Ocean destinations such as the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Mauritius, as well as South Africa and Vietnam. "
The Maldives is perfect for honeymoons as it is very laid back with typically just one hotel per island. “But don’t just limit your stay to one room type in the Maldives,” she suggests, recommending that for the full effect you stay a while on the beach before moving onto an over-water villa.
“If you get the opportunity, travel to your castaway island by seaplane transfer. It’s a stunning flight of fancy providing you with a bird’s eye view of these beautiful islands, and a great way of starting your holiday in style.”
Wherever you go, make sure the resort knows it’s your honeymoon. “Bring an invitation with you, that way you can avail of many added extras in your resorts – you may be staying in a few different hotels and each hotel will provide you with, for example, a dinner on the beach, a breakfast in bed, or flowers and Prosecco on arrival,” says Herssens.
Saving money by avoiding the high season in places like the Caribbean is that it’s often out of season for a reason – the weather. “If the Caribbean is your destination of choice and you are worried about hurricane season, a cruise is definitely worth considering,” suggests Porter.
“Cruise ships have the highest standard of technology and can reroute to alternative islands should the itinerary be affected by bad weather.”
A little geography homework can help you avoid tropical storms too. If you are worried about the storm season, which runs from June to September or October, a top tip to consider is west coast Mexico. Porter says, "Opt for a resort like Cabo San Lucas which doesn't have these problems and has a good climate all year round. Or consider Aruba in the Caribbean, which is just below the Tropical Storm Belt and offers beautiful white powdery sandy beaches."
Of course, there's no law that says you have to go long haul. There are plenty of great options closer to home too, with the Mediterranean or Greek Islands offering lots of cruises. And Italy has popular honeymoon hotspots that are easily accessible such as Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Sicily or Sardinia.
To really give it that special feeling, book private transfers, the VIP lounge at airports and, if at all possible, upgrade your flights. “With so many airlines flying there are some fantastic business class offers so make sure to get a price for business class, even one way, it may not cost as much as you think,” Herssens says.
Remember, your honeymoon could well be the last big romantic holiday you have for some time “without the kids”, says John Galligan of JGT Travel. “So, it is worth putting a bit of thought into it. Not least because if it is your job to organise and you get it badly wrong, you may be reminded of that occasionally over the next 40 years or so.”
what I’d do differently (or not)
"I was seven months pregnant on honeymoon and we wed in Texas, so our honeymoon options were somewhat limited. Also, it was December. We spent a couple of nights in a log cabin in Oklahoma, stopping off in Paris (Texas) en route for the obligatory photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. The place we stayed was called Rivers Edge and its giant Jacuzzi was a definite highlight, given my condition."
Jill Guest, The Guest List
"It amazes me the number of about-to-weds who tell us that, for their honeymoon, all they want to do is flop on the beach. I remember my own honeymoon in the Algarve, a very long time ago. I was extremely busy up to the wedding and by the time I got to Portugal, my wheels were spinning at 100mph. I was hopping and trotting for the first week, I was so wound up. Most honeymooners are working under pressure at the best of times. With the added stress of arranging the wedding, honeymoon, seat maps at the meal and arguments with the relatives, you think you just want to collapse. But you don't. After the first hour on the sun bed, you will be looking for something to do."
John Galligan, John Galligan Travel
“We went on our own honeymoon to Madeira and really enjoyed it. We were very young and it was a long time ago and it was very quiet but suited us as we were wrecked after the wedding. Since then, Madeira has changed a lot and we revisited it again last year and loved it. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Madeira at the moment.”
Tanya Airey, Sunway
"I got married 20 years ago and with a one-year-old daughter at home we could get away for only a week so we stayed close and rented a 17th century tower at the top of a mountain in Tuscany called Renaldo's Tower. It was before SatNavs so it took us hours to find the place. I always tell people not to go on honeymoon the day after their wedding because we went off with big hangovers and ended up driving a Fiat Uno the wrong way down a slip road on an Italian motorway. Best to leave the honeymoon for a day or two afterward. We had an idyllic week helping ourselves to the local wine in the private cellar, eating from markets and dining in mamas' kitchens, which were basically locals opening up their kitchen for a meal. The highlight was chilling in the plunge pool on top of the roof of the tower, which felt like sitting on top of the world, the views were so astounding."
Zara Stassin, Zara’s Planet