After the months of busyness, hype, stress and planning leading up to your wedding, the change of pace and scenery offered by a honeymoon is just the ticket (excuse the pun) for the two of you to start your life as newlyweds.

Here are my ten top tips to help you plan a honeymoon that is low on stress, and big on savings:

1 | Start planning early

Do your homework early and book well in advance to secure the venue(s) you have your heart set on. Be prepared to pay deposits to confirm your reservations as popular destinations fill up quickly, especially in peak seasons.

2 | Practice the Pause

Avoid the temptation to squeeze as many things as you can into your itinerary. At the very least, try to stay at least two nights in your first location. After the adrenaline and excitement of the wedding, you are likely to be exhausted. Build in some proper time to relax and unwind. As newlyweds, you won’t want to get up early, rush through breakfast and get packed up and ready to check out at 10 am!

3 | Plan the perfect itinerary for the two of you

Every couple is different. Some couples want to be dropped pool-side and not have to move for seven days while others want to actively explore their surrounds and try all the activities on offer. Don’t be preoccupied with what others say a honeymoon should or shouldn’t be, and don’t feel pressured to stick to someone else’s itinerary. Your honeymoon is all about the two of you and you should spend it visting places and doing things that you are both passionate about. And perhaps doing absolutely nothing is what you both need…

4 | Consult the experts

While it can be fun to create your own travel itinerary, it can also be hard work to coordinate all the details. Chatting to a travel agent can be helpful as they will be able to assist with tailoring a package that suits your budget and preferences – and they will be able to offer expert advice on the best travel routes, local attractions, seasonality etc.

5 | Be a bargain hunter

If you do your research, plan well in advance, and are willing to travel out of season, you are more likely to scoop discounted rates. Some local luxury lodges, usually frequented by overseas travellers, are also offering special rates for SADC residents making this a great time to book a local luxury honeymoon.

6 | Be aware of ‘hidden’ costs

When budgeting for your honeymoon, remember that the total expense is more than just your travel and accommodation costs. Unless you book an all-inclusive package, you will need to factor in extra expenses such as car hire/ airport transfers, meals, drinks, activities and gratuities.

7 | Local really is ‘lekker’

A honeymoon is often seen as an opportunity to go all out on an overseas trip, but keep in mind that South Africa is one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world. There are many hidden gems right on your doorstep. For some of our favourite local destinations, take a look at our Marriage Meander honeymoon portfolio.

8 | Share your newlywed status

Wherever you decide to go, let them know ahead of your arrival that you are honeymooners as they will often throw in some extras – like a welcome gift basket, a private dining experience, or a complementary activity – to make your time even more memorable.

9 | Consider a honeyfund

If what you’d like most as a wedding gift is a great honeymoon, set up a honeymoon account and invite your friends and family to contribute towards your ‘honeyfund’.

10 | Timing is everything!

Planning your wedding and honeymoon simultaneously is not only expensive but also time-consuming – especially if you are doing it all yourselves. Remember that you don’t have to go away on honeymoon straight after the wedding. If you delay your trip, it gives you more time to save up and plan.  If you are heading off right away, it is a good idea to relax for at least a day after your wedding before starting your honeymoon.

Wherever you choose to go, I hope you make it all about you and that you return with a treasure trove of memories that you will cherish forever.