A special thanks to Janiece and Christopher Mercado for letting us feature photos from their dreamy Italian honeymoon.

It’s the vacation on the other side of all the planning and the pause during the busy season of navigating a new reality together. Here are a few tips to give it the attention it deserves, too. 

After all the months spent planning your big day, another unforgettable memory is just around the corner: the honeymoon. Just like planning for the wedding, planning for the honeymoon can be both exciting and overwhelming. However, It isn’t like planning for a normal vacation. You may spend months building your itinerary and researching destinations, flights, and hotels — all while simultaneously coordinating your wedding day. But it’s worth setting aside the time to strategize your ideal honeymoon, because on the other side of this busy season is a relaxing trip to start out the rest of your lives together.

1. Discuss expectations, and work together: First and foremost, communication is key. You know how you travel — but you now have to consider how your spouse travels, too. Do you prefer a relaxing, all-inclusive vacation on the beach? Are they an adventure-seeker, eager to hike to the next summit? If you don’t share the same travel interests, now is the time to discuss a solution. Don’t leave the planning to one person; this should be a joint effort!

2. Focus on quality time, not the destination: Choosing where to go is an important step in the honeymoon-planning process. However, your honeymoon doesn’t have to be the trip of a lifetime — this is only the beginning! Oftentimes, a balance of adventure and relaxation is the ideal itinerary for a honeymoon. This will give you ample time to debrief from a busy wedding-planning season and spend the needed quality time with one another. The honeymoon can be a great way to recharge before getting back to reality and beginning the rest of your lives together.

3. Don’t wing it; plan early: It’s tempting to simply choose the destination and book your hotel all in one night. However, you should be planning your honeymoon as early as you start to plan your wedding — especially if you are traveling abroad. The ideal time to book your honeymoon is six to eight months prior. If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll need to be sure you apply for any necessary visas and that you are up-to-date on your passports (tip: you may want to hold off on changing your name legally until you return if you don’t have time to order a new passport). Or if you’re looking into a resort, all-inclusive and premium rooms tend to book up early. Check out review websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, and read others’ reviews. Be sure to research where you’re going ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about all the little details while you’re there. 

4. Set a budget and be aware of hidden costs: You can enjoy your honeymoon and still set a budget. In fact, a budget will allow you to spend the money on what you value most and give you the peace of mind that there’s still money left when you return home — because, you know, the goal is to start the rest of your lives together. Both weddings and honeymoons are expensive, so be realistic on what you can afford. Before traveling, be sure to check on costs like visas, airport transfers, and other travel fees that can quickly add up. Understanding what additional fees you’ll need to pay upfront will give you better context of what money you’ll have left to splurge on other experiences you are looking to share.

5. Don’t stress about seeing it all: Your honeymoon is supposed to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the wedding process. It can be easy to put the pressure on yourselves to see it all, but just remember that you have the rest of your lives together — and other adventures ahead. Don’t stress yourselves out so much that you lose sight on celebrating all the moments in a romantic location with your new spouse.  

It’s worth setting aside the time to strategize your ideal honeymoon, because on the other side of this busy season is a relaxing trip to start out the rest of your lives together.