Planning your honeymoon

A 2011 Real Wedding Survey conducted by The Knot magazine found that the typical engaged couple spends more than $27,000 on their wedding and that the average length of an engagement is 14 months.

That’s a lot of money and time!

And that doesn’t even include the honeymoon.

According to a 2010 study from the magazine, the typical honeymoon averages just below $4,470.

As a newlywed, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: No matter how much fun planning a wedding might be, at some point in the process, the thing you’re going to look forward to most is the honeymoon.

Suddenly dreams of white lace and dahlias will be replaced by thoughts of surf, sand, and your spouse – walking toward you on the beach with two margaritas in hand.

So taking all of this into consideration, how much would you really want to gamble with the outcome of your honeymoon?

None, of course!

That’s why engaged couples should work with a travel agent when planning a honeymoon.

Working with a travel agent to plan your honeymoon

The bridges of London
image via Dimitry B., Flickr

My Personal Experience

My husband and I got married last June.

On top of planning the wedding, we were also prepping for a move cross-country and trying to finish our church’s mandatory marriage classes in less time than was required.

Factor in the craziness of every day life, and we were maxed out.

I’m a travel writer by trade, so I’m up-to-speed on honeymoon destinations.

But with so much going on in our lives at the time, we really needed to find someone who could help with the heavy lifting.

And because we were moving soon after the wedding, we had a very specific honeymoon budget in mind.

We wanted our dollars to be put to use in the best possible way.

And we wanted someone who had an intimate knowledge of the product who could help us bag some extra goodies ��� you know, champagne bottles, private dinners, the best excursions, those things that you’ll probably only get to experience on your honeymoon.

I have to admit, finding the right travel agent wasn’t easy.

Many of those that came recommended by friends worked only with specific brands and we wanted more options in our choice of destination and resort.

After what I thought was some positive email exchanges with one agent, I never heard a peep from her again. (Coincidentally, this was after I sent her our final budget, so I just assume we weren’t in the right ballpark!)

So when I finally found Jane Borman of Pro Travel International – a totally personable straight-shooter who threw out stats of resorts across the Caribbean like it was no big thing – I was delighted.

Before I met her, we were considering multiple destinations…Bora Bora, Fiji, Mexico, every corner of the name it.

Jane came to our meeting armed with brochures and I came armed with our budget (didn’t want to make the same mistake twice, after all!).

She asked for our top requirements:

1. must fit within our budget (we actually ended up spending less!)

2. must not be too long of a flight (we had just about a week)

3. must be an all-inclusive beach resort with some local flair.

Taking all of this into account, Jane narrowed down our options to two very specific destinations and resorts.

We could either go to Jamaica and stay at a 4-star resort in a standard room where our flight, food, drinks and accommodations would all be included but we would get no extra add-ons, or we could go to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.

There we would be able to afford a suite in a 5-star, all-inclusive where one flat rate would include flights, private transportation to and from the resort, accommodations, food, top-shelf liquor and gratuity, plus a special romantic dinner and nightly turndown amenity.

Jamaica may have sounded more exotic to us at first but this was our honeymoon and we wanted to live it up!

So we decided on the Mayan Riviera (and had an amazing time).

The thing is, I probably wouldn’t have found this deal if it weren’t for Jane.

Travel agents often have access to exclusive deals and honeymoon packages.

And I definitely would have exhausted myself trying to shop all of the destination and resort offers.

Jane saved us time and she got us the most value for our budget.

We had our entire honeymoon planned in a week.

honeymoon travel ideas

Romitorio di Serelle in Tuscany
image via Discover Tuscany

Real Honeymoon Stories

“My wife and I went to St. Martin and Anguila for our honeymoon.

We worked with a travel agent to book a package that included airfare, our resort stays, airport transfers and breakfast.

The main thing that our travel agent provided was education on these destinations.

She helped us narrow down our choices, which made the search easier and gave us the confidence that we were going to the right place.

Having visited the islands and resorts herself, she had direct experience with the product and was able to send us to the best places.”

��� Rob Thompson from Chandler, Ariz.

“We reserved a 10-day Caribbean cruise that included accommodations on the ship, meals and on-board entertainment then worked with a travel agent on booking extra activities.

She was able to get us an onboard credit of $150 per person, a private meal on our balcony, shopping on the ship, spa treatments and more.

She also surprised us with a special breakfast on the balcony as a gift.”

– Melanie Divelbiss from Seattle

“We took our honeymoon in London and throughout Italy.

Our travel agent was an invaluable resource for suggestions on what to do in each city to make the most of our experience.

She also helped rebook all of our flights only days before our honeymoon after there was a major airline cancellation.

Our travel agent was able to get us a better deal than anything we could find online and her first-hand knowledge of the cities meant she could provide insider tips.

Once she knew our love of food and wine, she as able to recommend unique activities to fit our interests.

One of our favorite experiences on the honeymoon was a cooking class in Florence she booked for us.���

– Rachel Pearson from Scottsdale, Ariz.

How It Works

Couples oftentimes assume that they’ll have to pay for a travel agent’s services, but that’s just not the case.

Travel agents get paid by the resorts and destinations that they’re booking for their clients.

No extra fees are passed on to the consumer.

The resorts and destinations figure that the travel agent is doing them a service by promoting their brand, so they cover the associated costs.

Occasionally, though it’s rare, you might be able to find a deal online that a travel agent can’t beat.

This usually happens when couples only want to book with a specific airline or hotel and that particular company doesn’t work directly with travel agents (Which means the agent has to charge a service fee, hence the extra cost.)

That’s why it’s better to work with a travel agent if you’re open to suggestions on honeymoon destinations or resorts.

And keep in mind: just because a deal looks cheaper at first, doesn’t mean it will end up being the best value.

Does it include transfers to and from the airport?

How about taxes and gratuity?

Look into the details!

Oftentimes travel agents bundle all of these nuances into one convenient package.

I know there can be a lot of questions when working with a travel agent for the first time.

So to close things off, I thought I’d conclude this article with a few expert Q&A’s.

Terri Flood, Escapes Unlimited


How do you come to work with the destinations and resorts that you sell?

I am an exclusive Sandals and Beaches travel agent, so selling a product I believe in is key.

I have been trained in all aspects of their resorts and know the products inside and out.

What are the benefits to working with a travel agent instead of booking your honeymoon via an online search engine?

I handle my clients’ travel arrangements directly, so if the resort they have reserved goes on sale, for example, I am notified and can match the sale price for them.

I can also help troubleshoot problems.

If there is a flight schedule change or cancellation, I can act right away to resolve the issue.

With an online booking site, you don’t get that personal service.

They don’t know you or anything about your trip.

Lisa Kennedy, Worldview Travel

How do you decide which honeymoon destinations to recommend to a couple?

I like to spend some time with the clients just talking.

When planning a honeymoon, I want to hear all of the gooey details about how they met, how long they have been together, how and where the proposal happened.

Then I want to talk about what they like to do together – are they fitness nuts?

History buffs? Do they enjoy going to the theater? Wine tasting? Are they foodies?

Then I want to hear about any vacations they might have taken together, good and not so good.

Unless they come to me absolutely set on a specific destination, I don’t ask where they want to go at first – I think it’s more important to get BOTH of them talking about what they like.

Only then do I want to hear about what ideas they might have for this once-in-a-lifetime-vacation.

Tell us about a time when you were able to troubleshoot or solve a problem for your clients.

I had some clients who wanted to sail on a cruise with some friends who had already booked online; my clients booked their cabin with me.

The two-week cruise was a nightmare – one of the ship’s engines lost all power and they missed three of the stops.

The weather was awful and the seas were quite rough; the ship limped back into port.

My clients were extremely unhappy.

I contacted our representative, and after some negotiation, my clients received a $1,000 refund and a $500 future cruise credit; their friends who had booked with an online site received a $200 refund.


Simone Waclawsky, Protravel International

How do you come to work with the destinations and resorts that you sell?

We constantly meet with hotel representatives and tour properties to stay informed and current.

Our relationships with our reps are incredibly important since these relationships are what set us apart from your run-of-the-mill booking engines.

We agents are always comparing notes and experiences to make sure our clients are getting the best of the best.

What are your top reasons why you think it is beneficial to work with a travel agent to book your honeymoon?

It will reduce the overall stress by giving you personalized service and the ability to lean on our years of experience and knowledge.

You also get an overall better value and access to special amenities through our programs.

We keep up-to-date with information, possibilities of alternative routes and side trips, and can give advice on passports and visas.

And of course, peace of mind while traveling knowing you have a point-of-contact at all times.

Trudy Lagerman, Liberty Travel

What do you think is the biggest misconception couples have when planning their honeymoon?

A lot of times people think they can’t afford a honeymoon, but we can do anything from local port cruises, to trips to the Caribbean and Mexico for reasonable prices.

Tell us about a time when you were able to troubleshoot or solve a problem for your clients.

During Hurricane Sandy, I had a couple call every day afraid of the storm approaching.

I was able to get them out before the storm on first class for no added cost.

During a recent snowstorm, I had people stuck in St Lucia.

I was able to get them an overnight as they emailed me from the plane after they learned their flight was canceled.

Do you have any stories to share?

Let us know in the comments below...