couple on hammock

Photo: Blueflash Photography

Even though everyone tells you just how expensive planning a wedding is, until you’re in the thick of it, crunching the numbers and trying to figure out how to make space for the ten extra guests your mom just has to invite, you don’t realize how financially stressful your big day will be. With more and more couples opting to pay for their own ceremonies—and shelling out an average of $28,000 for the grand affair—the idea of also paying for a week-long honeymoon might become overwhelming.

That’s why before you click ‘book’ on those first-class airline tickets or the multi-night stay at a luxury hotel, money experts suggest doing a deep dive into your bank account to see if you can actually afford to get away. If you find you truly can’t make it happen? Don’t go straight into panic mode.

Instead, try these tactics from financial experts who give their smartest recommendations on how to handle the difficult decision to postpone your post-nuptial holiday:

 

Play your cards right.

And by cards, Roman Shteyn, the CEO and co-founder of RewardExpert means credit cards. But before you start opting into each and every single travel reward card there is, he encourages newlyweds to research the fine print—and start early. For many of the recommended cards—like Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred—having a large purchase go directly on your statement can double—and at times, triple—the points you earn. His suggestion is to apply and have the credit cards right from the time you get engaged, so you can put some of the cost of the wedding on your plastic, automatically earning you free-ish funds for your honeymoon.

“Be sure to hold one or two credit cards that pays miles and points for your purchases. Some cards award additional points for spending at certain outlets like office supply stores, restaurants, gas stations, and on any type of travel,” he says. “There might be better points-earning cards out there that provide more earnings than what you currently have.”

And if you don’t have quite enough points collected by the time you need to book your travel? Shteyn says to keep putting any large travel or dining-related expenses on these cards will help you continuously earn points that could pay for your getaway in no time.

Be strategic with other cards, too.

Shteyn says it’s not just travel cards that could be helpful to collecting points for your honeymoon, either. He notes that some other wedding planning must-haves - like tables, chairs, music, venue - could also be money-makers too. “Some cards offer as many as five points per dollar spent at office supply stores. While you may not be buying a filing cabinet for your big day, you would be surprised to find what is sold at office supply stores. Everything from paper towels and snacks (great for those welcome baskets!) to gift cards and stamps are eligible to earn five points per dollar spend on certain cards, like the Chase Ink Business Cash card. If you buy these things elsewhere, you would probably only earn one point per dollar spent,” he explains.

Practice control with your credit card.

By now, you know you and your partner’s strengths and weaknesses. While you might be more type A, your spouse-to-be could swing type B. You’re an early bird? That person you’re getting married to might be a night owl. As you go through premarital counseling, you’ll quickly determine and navigate other differences, and one of those could be money. Whichever one of you has more willpower against spending should become the keeper of the credit cards. Especially when large credit limits might be tempting.

“Just because you have a credit card, doesn’t mean you can go wild. It means you have a miles-generating engine that can deliver rewards on the things you might have been paying with cash, check, or non-rewards credit or debit cards. Always pay your balance in full, if possible,” Shteyn says. “And, if you’re applying for a new card before buying a house or applying for a loan or mortgage, consider that your credit rating can potentially take a hit, so time big moves carefully.”

Consider setting up a honeymoon registry.

If you’re looking at your kitchen and finding that it’s mostly stocked, you might wonder what exactly you’re registering for. Since many couples live together before they get hitched these days, your registry might be lacking. Instead of asking for towels, china and a blender, consider a honeymoon fund. Honeymoon registry websites make it easy for your guests to give cold-hard cash or select specific experiences they want you to have in your destination of choice. John Gantois, the founder of CreditCardInsider.com explains this tactic could not only raise the money you need to get away, but will save you from having to put countless items on a credit card and risking your financial picture.

Re-examine your expectations for your honeymoon.

If the idea of waiting six months or even until your first anniversary to take your honeymoon just doesn’t sit well with you, Shteyn encourages couples to reexamine what a honeymoon means to you and your partner. If you simply want to getaway right away, as wedded partners, then consider going less luxe and more relaxed. “If you consider an escape to your family’s cabin on the lake a romantic getaway, then you could easily strap together a budget-friendly honeymoon,” he notes. And hey, if you can afford a two-week adventure to Bali in two years? Consider it an extended honeymoon period—and an excuse to get out of town to rekindle those just-married vibes.