This is a three-part series highlighting offbeat honeymoons. Our lovely intern, Karah is getting married and will be discussing the process of planning, packing, and then presenting the actual honeymoon and her recommendations.
As my fiancé and I were planning our wedding, of course a huge topic of discussion was where we were going to spend our first days as husband and wife on our honeymoon. We have been told countless of times that this is the can’t miss time in life to do an "over the top" vacation, especially before we start building our family and have little kiddos running around our home. So needless to say, the honeymoon was a piece of our wedding planning that I long romanticized about and SO looked forward to. What would we do? Where would we go? Would we want be surrounded by history, or mountains, or beaches and pińa coladas? Well, I’m going to be open and honest here and just say that this was and has been probably the toughest, drawn-out part of our wedding planning. At first, we just couldn’t come to an agreement.
Long story short, we weren’t inspired, we were low on cash, and truly avoided the topic at all costs when it was brought up. We argued a ton. Not the serious kind, but the kind where we knew that this trip was going to be something we were going to be spending more money than usual on, and we both wanted it to be a dream (rightfully so). The two of us were hoping for different scenes and vibes, and just couldn’t seem to find a happy medium anywhere in sight. Just when I was about to just say, let’s do Mexico, I found the perfect place for us with all of the things we both wanted and craved for our honeymoon.
Croatia. Is it offbeat, a little different? Absolutely, and that's just the way we wanted it.
SO many people have asked, why there? or the one of my personal favorites, “Ohhh that’s interesting”, which is the Minnesota-Nice way of saying, That’s super weird, and totally not normal. Anyways, trust me and look it up for yourselves. The answers of why we’re headed there will be crystal clear. Seriously, who even knew that this little piece of heaven on earth existed? Now the planning process is something we actually look forward to, something we get giddy about - and that’s because the two of us are both completely in bliss with our decision. We are booked, scheduled, and beyond ready to head out of Minneapolis on this adventure. We have reservations set at the cutest little AirBnB’s, plans for excursions such as a bike and wine tasting tour along the Croatian countryside, and a few more little surprises that my fiancé has yet to know about. All the smiles in the world right here.
However, if I’m being transparent, like any other decision in life, there were definite pros and cons. We found ourselves diligently fine-tuning the parts of our trip that were more work than expected because of choosing an offbeat destination. We didn’t have a travel agent. We couldn’t pick an all-inclusive option, because there weren’t any. None of our friends have been there, so our opinions and decisions were based heavily upon travel forums, online blogs, and travel guides. There was just a lot more planning, and thinking, and communicating involved in making each choice. We loved it though. For us, the process, the challenges, and the time spent make the entire trip worth it. It’s offbeat, it’s exploration, it’s beauty, it’s everything we could have dreamt of. It’s unique - and that my friends is exactly what we were going for.
If you are any bit like us, which means indecisive, argumentative, slight perfectionists, looking for something unique but not quite sure where to start... please read ahead! I have some pretty great tips for you, and hope they are found to be helpful. Some of these steps/tips, we actually did ourselves. On the other hand, I added a few tips in here that I would do if I knew then, what I know now.
1. EVERY PENNY COUNTS
The infamous wedding budget. Deposit for the venue, check. Deposit for catering, got it. But what about the honeymoon? We hopefully aren’t trying to break the bank here, but we of course want to make the trip special enough where we will look back on it for years to come, and say, remember when?
When booking an offbeat honeymoon, this can be tricky, because you won’t know a realistic budget until you pick a destination. So we should pick the destination first, THEN set a budget, right? Well, in my opinion, that’s the wrong path to venture down. We picked the destination first, with research that just barely scratched the surface. Long story short, we have been blessed with a spot that doesn’t break the bank, or empty our pockets.
What I want to share with you is that it’s important to stick to an amount that you both are comfortable dishing out. Money is a tricky, touchy subject. Add a wedding to the mix and it becomes that much more complicated, and scarce. Believe me, this is an absolutely magical time in your life and I know that it’s so incredibly easy to get caught up and want to spend insane amounts on just about everything.
But, I can assure you that if your budget can sit on the fence of both comfortable and out of the ordinary special, you will be at ease on the trip knowing that you didn’t overspend. More importantly, you’ll be so glad to come back home and start your life together with money still in the bank. No matter where you and your partner venture off to, it will be a dream that the two of you will reminisce on for years to come.
Sidenote: Lots of offbeat places are a smidge less expensive than the more tourist attractive areas of the world. Yes, this is a moment where you can say that you are in fact winning.
2. BON VOYAGE!
But wait, where are you going? This. Is. The. Hardest. Part. What do you want, what does he want? Do you want a beach, while sitting under a cabana with cute little drinks in hand? Does he want an adventure climbing up mountains, and zip-lining through a jungle? You get the point. I truly get it, the options are vast and this world is full of beautiful pit-stops for you both to choose from.
The end goal is to find a place that inspires, kicks up the romance, and helps you both to seize the moment to enjoy time with one another. And yes, don’t forget… it should be a place that stays within that perfectly balanced budget that you two agreed on.
The way of finding your dreamy location is different for everyone based on your personal and distinct interests. Make it unique to you! If thinking of a certain scenery, historical landmark, or type of food puts a pep in your step, make it known.
I would suggest by starting with a list. Grab a bottle of wine, and his favorite dessert, and a cute, designated honeymoon planning notebook. Then, begin the brainstorming process of your dreamy honeymoon. Plus, the wine will help stir up the creative process, am I right?!
3. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Are you dead-set on heading out the day after your wedding? Go for it, and do you. On the other hand, if your budget has become a bit limited after all of the final payments that weddings love to tack on, and if you aren’t worried about the actual day or even month that you leave after getting hitched, check into different times of the year.
Jetting off during a destination’s offseason is a huge way to save money, and could allow you newlyweds to spend more days away on your honeymoon. And as tempting as it is to jet off during a holiday season filled with paid days off from work, prepare for prices to skyrocket.
Also, make sure to chat about work schedules, family events, and other important events that you wouldn’t want to miss out on. I can assure you that your trip will be incredibly more romantic if you aren’t worrying about an event or work meeting back home. Enjoy the time away, and the time to focus on the love between you two in your perfect little spot on the map.
4.YOUR HOME SWEET HOME // AWAY FROM HOME
Picking a humble abode, whether it’s a resort, an RV, a campground, or an AirBnB, whatever it is, this is an important part of your honeymoon planning. It’s your little home away from home and your space to solely be with one another, without the distractions of the world. After a long day of exploration, coming back to a place of serenity - whatever that may look like to you - is heavenly and comforting.
My suggestion: based on your place of adventure, look into every option. We had looked into the typical resorts, hotels, bed & breakfasts, etc. Absolutely loved them, but they just weren’t authentic enough for what we were looking for, and plus they would have broken the bank. What we were hoping for was to have a rugged, candid experience of the culture.
So, as noted, we chose to go with AirBnB’s for our lovely trip. It’s truly a personal way to experience a place, and sometimes you even get to meet the owners of the home, which means instant friends and connections to the area. Since they live in the area, they can tell you all about the cool, and off the map places to check out. Which I’m personally obsessed with. It might not be the easy-going, or the norm, or the most all-inclusive way. But, it’s all so, so perfect for us.
If you are looking for something completely off the beaten path, camping or road-tripping, it is a great way to explore the world at your own pace. You won’t be tied-down by timelines of tailor-made honeymoon itineraries, check-in times, or waiting for your hotel room to be ready. Whatever and wherever your home is, choose authentically and together so that you both are comfortable and are feeling all the "homey" vibes.
5. GOING WITH THE FLOW OR BEING KEPT ON YOUR TOES?
This is the fine tuning of your planning, but nonetheless, it needs to be done. Maybe you don’t need to need to have your days scheduled out from 8:00am hiking to 5:00pm dinner. But you like to think that wherever the wind will take you, will be just fine. And that’s exactly what it is, completely just fine.
It’s about what you two hope to experience, and maybe scheduling your days full of plans freaks you out and makes you anxious. This trip is meant to be for YOU and what YOU like. Make it that. On the contrary, if you’re more of the hour-by-hour planner, be our guest, absolutely do that as well. No shame in your game. Plan your days full if you must.
Whichever way you go, make sure you both are comfortable and excited for your daily honeymoon schedule. We fell in the middle of this scale. We didn’t want to overbook ourselves, because I get all sorts of crabby when I have too much to do. I don’t want that, and he certainly doesn’t want that.
To create our schedule, we researched each town that we booked our AirBnB’s in, specifically the must-see sights, and must-do activities. We collectively chose about two things in each town that we would hate to miss out on. Whether that was an excursion, or activity, or a sight, it all varied place to place.
We kept the rest of our time open for simple explorations and enjoying time together. I’m definitely more of a planner, and he’s a laid-back joe-shmo. This is what worked for us, and we are both over the moon about our tentative schedule!
A first place to start for you? Look at all things touristy in your destination, and see if any interest you. It will help determine what’s essential, and what’s okay to skip.
6. COMPARE + DESPAIR
This is a long one, my friends. But, it’s an important one, so sit tight. Leading up to the day, it’s pretty easy to catch yourself slipping into a silent comparison or subconscious competition with other couples getting married. It was for me anyways. We were surrounded with friends who were/are also in the same life-stage as us. Ones that were/are getting married within months of my fiance and I.
You hear of their ideas, their venue choices, the food they will be serving, and of course the honeymoon destination. You look around at and hear of all of the beauty, ideas, and lavish honeymoon trips. And Pinterest. Stop, I can’t get started on that. That’s a whoooole, literally hours-long topic to be touched on at a later time. There is just not enough time or coffee in my cup for that one today.
Anyways, to be blunt, weddings have a tendency to be straight up exhausting. As exciting as planning this once in a lifetime moment might seem to an outsider, it’s actually quite the opposite on some days. And that my friends, is due to the games of side-by-side, all things wedding comparison. The forgetfulness of what the wedding day comes actually down to. The actual significance of a wedding day.
I would love to eventually write a separate piece, or maybe even a series, on this topic because I think it’s a definite problem that should be shared about in the open.
The team at Forever Bride and I were discussing this honeymoon blog series, and then this whole, big, messy topic of comparison was brought up and shared about with our hearts open. The conclusion of this conversation, was that we all have in one way or another have felt this indescribable need to turn heads, and impress when it comes to the creating the perfect day. The need for perfection keeps on going past the final exit with sparklers and into the next few days or weeks of honeymooning with your honey.
I dealt and felt this one, 100%. I had friends traveling to Bora Bora, and St. Lucia, and backpacking through Europe. How could we compete? We didn’t. And I’m going to tell you the same thing my mom told me. Keep your head on straight, remember who you are, and keep your heart steady. Him and I are full of faith, so for me, that’s what has kept me hopeful and grounded. I remember that we could have been just going down the street, or staying home and not having this amazing opportunity to head elsewhere.
Thankfulness is the key. Be thankful for the moment, for the new chapter of your love story that you are beginning to write. Whether you are heading to a bed & breakfast an hour away, staying home, or heading off somewhere across oceans and oceans - just be filled with thanks. We are fortunate beyond belief.
There you have it - the basics of our honeymoon planning. Grab a map, pour some wine, and get started on the search with your honey.
Next up, we’ll start packing our suitcases and getting honeymoon ready! Click here for the next part of this series: packing essentials + packing checklist.
Or feel free to jump ahead to my honeymoon review here!
Also, I think you'll find our blog post Mini-Moon Before the Honeymoon rather interesting!
And feel free to peruse our honeymoon planners for those of you who prefer some extra help.
Happy planning, friends!