You've decided on a destination wedding, and now you're thinking of staying put in that same locale for your honeymoon, too. You've put so much time and energy into finding a gorgeous destination for your nuptials, why wouldn't you want to stay and soak up all it has to offer? "Couples choose their wedding destination because they're drawn to it, and because it has special meaning to them, which also make its it a desirable honeymoon destination," says Bonnie Chase, owner of Events By Bliss. If you're considering combining your wedding destination and your honeymoon, here are some dos and don'ts recommended by the travel professionals.
Do: Consider realistic locations.
Instead of looking for exotic locations that are difficult to get to and usually more costly, Christine Hunter, director of catering for The Cavalier, recommends looking at smaller markets in the U.S. "From both a cost and time-saving perspective, these charming smaller markets can provide a more intimate setting for the entire wedding," she says. "Remember, you may have saved up for your big day and honeymoon but your guests haven't had the same amount of time to plan out and budget travel expenses."
Don't: Arrive too early.
Chase recommends spending more days in your destination after the wedding than before—especially if you are working with a professional planner, since they'll make sure everything is under control. "Sure, you may want to arrive a day before your guests, but save as much of your time as possible for the honeymoon," she says. "The reality is that you probably really aren't going to be able to fully relax until after the wedding, so be sure to reserve enough time to decompress and enjoy yourself afterwards."
Do: Establish post-wedding plans.
To avoid having to carry around all of your wedding clothing, accessories, and gifts, coordinate your travel plans with your wedding planner or family members. Ask them to be responsible for packing up all your wedding-related luggage to ship home directly for you. "More than any other type of wedding, a destination wedding means lots of pre- and post-event shipping," says Tara Fay, owner of Xena Productions. "If you can eliminate some of this by advance planning, it will ensure that the post-wedding bliss can last longer without being involved in the nasty logistics that go with shipping."
Don't: Invite your besties to stay.
While you might have a post-wedding event or two that includes your guests, or close friends, and family, it's not the best idea to invite your best pals along with you for the rest of your trip. "It might seem like a ton of fun, but don't lose sight of the real reason you're staying in your destination post-wedding: your honeymoon," says Chase. "After several days of hosting all of your friends and family for the wedding weekend, you're going to be looking forward to some alone time."
Do: Create a bucket list of things to do.
"This is a time to make memories and create traditions, so take advantage of the beautiful surroundings you've chosen for the two of you to get married and honeymoon," says Fay. "For example, if you are visiting Tuscany, go to the closest vineyard and take part in the harvest and pre-order that vintage as a reminder of your wedding year." Partake in activities that you can repeat decades later when you revisit this beautiful place.
Don't: Stay in the same hotel.
You want your honeymoon to feel a little different than your actual wedding, which is why Chase recommends changing hotels. "In just a short drive, you can feel like you've arrived in an entirely new destination," she says. "Often couples choose host hotels that are cost effective in order to better accommodate their guests, so use this as an opportunity to spoil yourself with something luxury."