Many couples dream of a perfect honeymoon—perhaps in the tropics, on the ski slopes or trekking through all the major cities in Europe. However, those dream destinations have a hefty price tag, and, for couples trying to watch every dollar, that price tag can make a massive impact on a wedding budget. According to TripSavvy, “couples spend an average of $4,466 on their honeymoon.” Since the honeymoon is often factored into the total cost of the wedding—which, according to The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Study, has hit $33,391—dropping thousands of dollars on a post-wedding getaway might not even be financially feasible, especially for thrifty couples.
While the average price of a honeymoon might run in the four figures, a traditional honeymoon isn’t the only option. For budget-conscious couples who want the wedding of their dreams and are willing to tighten the reins on the honeymoon fund, there are many options for a budget-friendly and picture-perfect mini-moon.
So what is a “mini-moon?” Exactly what the name implies. A mini-moon is a shortened honeymoon and is usually comprised of a quick getaway that is near the couple’s home base. Mini-moons can be a weekend trip or just one day. Some couples, however, might plan a three-day trip. So how do you plan a mini-moon? And how much do they cost?
When your budget is tight and you can’t afford a week-long trip with airfare, here is everything you need to plan the picture-perfect mini-moon of your dreams.
Set the Budget
Before you begin looking into any bed and breakfasts, hotels or local hot spots, you need to check your budget. You should have already set the main wedding budget, and this gives you a good idea about how much money you have left for your post-wedding getaway. Mini-moons can fit into any budget and can be as luxe or as laidback as the couple desires.
Since the average price of a honeymoon is about 13 percent of the wedding budget, you should spend significantly less for a mini-moon. A fair estimate for your mini-moon is that your allocated budget should be under five percent of your wedding cost. So if you’re budgeting $30,000 for your wedding, a reasonably price mini-moon should cost less than $1,500—and that’s being extremely liberal. Most mini-moons can be planned for $500 or less. But some couples may wish to stay at a more lavish local resort for their dream mini-moon, and a luxe hotel or resort (even one that’s local) can bump the price.
Budgets for your mini-moon should factor in all costs, including:
- Meals and drinks
- Lodging costs
- Any additional excursion costs (like a local museum or tour)
Pick a Destination
Once you know the budget constraints, it’s time to find the destination. Mini-moons are local or a short drive, so, ideally, you want to search close to home or a day’s drive away. You could easily plan a trip to travel to another state or nearby big city or even plan a camping trip to a local state park. Sit down with your fiancé and discuss your ideal mini-moon must-haves. Do you want to stay in a hotel or a bed and breakfast? Maybe you want to rent a cabin? You also need to decide what activities you want to plan for entertainment. You might consider museums, roadside attractions (there are many!), historic sites, parks or maybe even a concert.
Meals and drinks also are a big part of the trip. Some bed and breakfasts include meals in the cost. Hotels might have an on-site restaurant. Some couples use their mini-moon as an opportunity to uncover cute or quaint new dining spots. If you plan to dine at an upscale or extremely popular restaurant, be sure to make reservations ahead of your visit.
- Choose your destination
- Plan an entertainment itinerary
- Search for local dining spots and make reservations ahead of time
If you need a bit of inspiration for your trip, check out these ideas for budget mini-moons:
Take a camping trip! This is one of the least expensive mini-moons of all! Be sure to pack your tent, supplies and, of course, food to cook over the campfire. You may pay for the price of your camping spot, but other costs are minimal. Factor in all your meals and gas, too. And don’t forget to bring marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars to make s’mores!
A winery weekend is romantic and relaxing, and many states have local wineries that include on-site lodging. However, if the local winery doesn’t include lodging, then book a nearby hotel or bed and breakfast. You’ll pay for wine tasting, your lodging cost, and food and gas. Staying on site allows you to not worry about traveling, but, if you’ve tasted too much wine, please call an Uber for safe travels!
Head to the largest city in your state and spend the weekend exploring all the sites, tastes and adventures. Be sure to research the best dives for amazing food, visit local cultural sites and catch a sporting event if there’s time—and remaining seats at the game! The best entertainment is often in our own backyard, and your state’s big city is filled with many opportunities for fun, memories and mini-moon photo ops!
Make Your Mini-Moon Meaningful
Some couples might be disappointed to forgo a long and luxe honeymoon, but a mini-moon should not feel like a compromise. A mini-moon is a time to enjoy the beginning of your life together and to relax after the stress of the wedding and planning the big event. Treat your mini-moon as a special trip and make sure that there isn’t a feeling of “settling” for less. Instead, take a few little measures to ensure that the romance, the fire and the celebration is included in your mini-moon plans.
Ready to get romantic? Here are tips to make your mini-moon extra special:
- Book the honeymoon suite. If you’re staying in a hotel, upgrade your room! Yes, this will cost more. So budget for it. Make the location special by investing in romance.
- If you’re camping, bring the romance outdoors. Grab a bottle of champagne and don’t forget the crystal flutes. (Skip the red solo cups!) Create a sexy tent boudoir with some satin sheets or pillows to add romance to that double sleeping bag. Bring flameless candles to light the mood and set the ambiance.
- Plan at least one romantic meal. Yes, your trip may be all casual. But book one nice restaurant and dress for the occasion.
- Silence your phones and don’t answer emails. This is your honeymoon; yes, it may be ‘mini,’ but this is still your post-wedding trip! Enjoy it, and don’t let friends or family infiltrate your time. Just because you stay local doesn’t mean that you have to answer your friend’s call, text or email. Disconnect from the tech!
- Use the “Do Not Disturb” sign if you’re staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast. That sign is there for a reason, and during your honeymoon, you get to use it all you want. So hang that sign proudly on the door knob!
Planning a Larger Trip Later
Some couples plan a mini-moon because they don’t have the budget for a longer trip or they might not have the vacation time for a honeymoon. However, in the future money might not be an issue, and this is the perfect time to plan a belated traditional honeymoon. The cost of a wedding is a huge financial investment and burden for many couples, and once the big event is over, finances may recover for a major vacation. If you don’t want to plan a mini-moon, it’s also ok to wait and plan your dream honeymoon when you can afford it. Some couples may delay their honeymoon by months or maybe even a year.
Mini-moons are a budget-friendly option to a traditional honeymoon. These trips are shorter in duration and do not involve a flight, and they typically are scheduled in destinations close to the couple. There are many options for romantic and fun mini-moons in every state: go camping, rent a cabin, visit a winery or take a trip to your nearest big city. The goal is to save money while spending time as a couple. But taking a mini-moon shouldn’t feel like a compromise. Both partners should be on the same page, and a mini-moon should infuse romance and special touches to create a meaningful ‘moon.
If there are feelings of frustration or disappointment at the aspect of planning a local trip, then wait until finances recover to plan a belated honeymoon. Mini-moons should be a joyful post-wedding vacation, but they should not instill resentment, frustration or anger. No matter where you plan your mini-moon, be sure to snap lots of photos to capture all the meaningful memories and remember to celebrate what’s most important: your new life together as a married couple!