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Enjoy Honeymoons Without Going Broke
By Jennifer Wesson
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The honeymoon can be the most exciting vacation a couple takesñand the most expensive.
With the average cost of today's wedding approximately $20,000, couples must be flexible and creative in planning their honeymoon to avoid financial hardships at the beginning of their marriage.
"A honeymoon does not have to wreck a budget," said Jan Lukens, consumer management consultant with Mississippi State University Extension Service. "It doesn't take a lot of money for a couple in love to have a good time."
Depending on the size of the couple's budget, there are a number of options that provide memorable honeymoons. For larger budgets, consulting with travel web sites or travel agents about special deals and discounts is a good idea.
Lukens said traveling to destinations during the off-season is an easy way to save money and still have a good time. Less congestion and more privacy are added bonuses for newlyweds who travel to vacation spots in off-seasons.
Consider resorts that offer all-inclusive packages including meals, activities and lodging, Lukens said.
"The cost may initially look steep, but do a projected budget to compare it to other options," Lukens said. "When you add meals, local transportation, and activity and event admission, you may find the price more predictable and affordable."
For couples who realize their finances cannot handle a trip to a resort, Lukens suggested brainstorming about ways to have an affordable, but equally special, honeymoon. In this case, lodging is probably the most costly aspect of the trip, but there are still ways to save money.
Lukens said shortening the length of the trip is one of the best ways to make a honeymoon more affordable. By simply shortening the stay from one week to three nights, a couple could save a considerable amount of money.
"Is an aunt's condo, a cousin's lake house, or a friend's bed and breakfast a possibility for a couple of days?" Lukens said. "Try a little bartering. For a couple of night's stay, you might offer yard work, computer assistance or some other skill you have that could benefit them."
If no free lodging is available, consider other non-traditional accommodations. For couples who enjoy the outdoors, camping is an option. National and state parks offer convenient campgrounds and provide recreation such as fishing, canoeing and hiking.
A unique and often overlooked idea for an extremely economical honeymoon is staying home and tuning out the outside world by cutting off phone and e-mail for a few days. With this option, the couple could plan inexpensive day trips to places near their home.
Another idea to save money is to elope and put money that would have been spent on a wedding toward the honeymoon. In doing this, a couple can combine the wedding and honeymoon. This is especially common in second marriages.
Couples should always be realistic. If planning a honeymoon will cause serious financial strain, they may want to postpone the trip.
"A couple should not spend money on any non-essential item if they cannot afford it," Lukens said. "This sets a bad precedent for the marriage finances. Since money is the No. 1 reported reason for divorce, no trip is worth the potential cost to the relationship."
"Good family finances are built on a series of wise financial decisions," Lukens said. "Don't start a marriage with a financial mistake."