Kotheid & Vanessa

Should You Combine Your Destination Wedding and Honeymoon?

November 14, 2023
Words by Meghan Ely
Photos courtesy of various

Sandy shores, cozy mountain retreats, historic villas — there’s a destination for any couple looking to get away for their big day. Destination weddings offer an opportunity to create unforgettable memories with loved ones while celebrating your marriage.

But what happens after you’ve exchanged vows, rings, and kisses?

Most couples follow up their wedding day with a honeymoon vacation, providing them with a chance to relax and soak in the romance before returning home to married life. And if you’re planning a destination wedding, you might wonder whether to stay put for your honeymoon or jet off elsewhere.

The choice is yours, but many wedding experts agree that celebrating your destination wedding and honeymoon in the same location is a wise move. 

For one, it’s cost-effective: Fewer travel expenses can allow for more excursions or a luxury suite upgrade (hello, private soaking pool!). But beyond budgets, combining your destination wedding and honeymoon reduces the mental load of planning, packing, and coordinating your travels.

“Honeymooning in a nearby area makes a lot of sense, especially if you’re traveling from afar,” confirms Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events. “It reduces the travel needed (and carbon footprint!) if you head to your honeymoon after your wedding vs. waiting months later to make another round trip.”

At the end of the day, you’ve chosen your wedding destination for a special reason. Why not explore the area to its fullest by enjoying it as newlyweds? Follow these pro tips to make the most of your destination wedding and honeymoon experience.

Pick a travel-friendly destination.

Naturally, the first step to planning your destination wedding and honeymoon is to pick a destination! The world is your oyster, so let yourself dream about your ideal setting. Consider regions that allow for local travel to nearby cities and landmarks. That way, “you can have your wedding in one place and then honeymoon somewhere nearby without having to travel too far,” says Nikki Golden of Nikki Golden Photography. 

For example, “Europe is extremely well connected via trains or short, easy flights,” Golden notes. It doesn’t take much to hop from a wedding in Venice to a honeymoon in Barcelona. And with such diverse European landscapes, you can take in everything from coastal beaches to snow-capped mountains.

Chang notes that island-hopping is another refreshing way to combine a destination wedding and honeymoon. “You can get married on Oahu and then honeymoon on Kauai or the Big Island,” she suggests. “Or you can get married in Tortola and honeymoon in Guana or Virgin Gorda.”

Small-scale travel requires less time, so it won’t eat into your honeymoon itinerary as an intercontinental flight would. But no matter where you end up, Vida Events’ Megan Lentz adds a reminder to “have your passport on you to move through some of those places.” Sounds like the perfect excuse to buy cute matching passport holders!

Plan ahead.

Once you’ve nailed down your destination, it’s time to research the area to figure out the logistics for your wedding and honeymoon. The sooner you start planning, the easier it will be for you and your guests to prepare!

Blooms by the Box’s Joan Wyndrum reveals that the secret to a successful destination wedding and honeymoon is all in the timing. “Research the destination for the best time of year to travel based on weather and tourist numbers,” she recommends.

Timing your travel is one thing; you’ll also need to navigate the legal matter of marriage. While tying the knot stateside is just a matter of going to a local clerk’s office, you may need to jump through a few hoops to get married in another country.

“Some locations may have specific legal requirements or restrictions for foreigners getting married, which could impact your plans,” explains Jacqueline Vizcaino of Tinted Events Design and Planning. So before putting down any deposits, Vizcaino urges couples to “research the marriage requirements of that country.”

When you’ve checked the boxes and secured a venue, “communicate with your closest friends and family so they can plan for travel, expenses, and time off work,” says Tracy Autem of Tracy Autem & Lightly Photography. Provide them with as much information as possible, including dates, room blocks, expected weather, and planned activities. You’ll want your guests to feel prepared as they get ready to celebrate your love!

Set post-nuptial boundaries.

There’s no better feeling than saying “I do” while surrounded by the love and support of your friends and family. But once the wedding is over, you’ll probably want some privacy to relish in newlywed bliss — and that can prove difficult if guests linger!

Melissa Diaz of Dhalia Events LLC stresses the importance of setting boundaries with loved ones after the wedding. She encourages couples to create “a clear separation between the start and end of both moments as well as well-defined activities and logistics to transition from ‘wedding and family’ mode to ‘relaxation and romance’ mode.”

You don’t have to force everyone to end their vacations early. But you can schedule your time strategically to hint that you’re checking out as their hosts! For instance, a post-wedding brunch can serve as a formal goodbye and end to the wedding festivities. Or, you can move to another resort to create some physical distance and explore more of your destination. Don’t feel shy about drawing a line — your loved ones will understand!

Leverage perks for longer stays.

Many hotels and resorts offer destination wedding packages with discounted rates and complimentary amenities. But you may uncover even more perks by extending your stay and sticking around for your honeymoon!

House of Joy’s Samantha Leenheer suggests “chatting with your resort or property to see if they offer any incentives for you to stay at their property for your honeymoon or another property under their brand.”

From free nights to dinner-for-two, you don’t know what you might get without asking! Such benefits may influence your plans and pad your budget to upgrade other elements of your honeymoon. Did someone say couple’s massage?

Celebrate with a mini-moon.

Pairing your honeymoon with a destination wedding might be cost-effective, but it doesn’t fit everybody’s schedule. Some couples may not have two weeks of PTO to soak in the whole experience, preferring to save their honeymoon until they can fully luxuriate in the time off.

But that doesn’t mean you have to endure the Sunday scaries after your wedding! Even if you can’t schedule your honeymoon right away, Mary Angelini of Key Moment Films recommends taking a few days for a mini-moon with your new spouse.

“This shorter getaway allows couples to decompress and reflect right after the wedding without committing to an extended stay,” she explains. “Many couples who choose a mini-moon often plan a more extended honeymoon for a later date.”

So whether you’re planning a weeklong honeymoon or can only spare a few extra days, it’s worth staying at your wedding destination to enjoy your post-nuptial retreat. Enjoy the lighter planning load, cost savings, and instant relaxation — all without the hustle and bustle of mid-vacay traveling. (And hey, if you had another place in mind, you’re already set for your first-anniversary trip!)

About the Author: Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Pharris Photos (1st, 2nd, & 4th); Mandee Johnson Photography (3rd); Niki Marie Photography (5th); Aleksandar Nakic (6th)

Weddings at Sandals
Iberostar Destination Weddings

Find a Vendor

Access our list of vendors based on your destination location.