A Taste of Honey ~ Are We Falling For Honeymoon Marketing Madness?

Good god, how much worse could the weather get today? And guess who picked the short straw to do the school run? I'm all for a snowy wintery wonderland, but not rain showers from hell! It makes me want to run off to warm and sunny climes and do nothing but lie in a hammock all day sipping on paradise cocktails! Talking of which, our features contributor Jess Billington, who some of you may recognise from her previous discussion feautures is turning her attention towards her upcoming honeymoon. Only, she's grappling with a few things. Mostly, the cost! Let's see what Jess has to say about what is claimed to be one of the most important holidays of your life…

As we are currently planning our honeymoon it seemed topical to write about this once in a lifetime experience.  We're only going to have one honeymoon after all and it has to be perfect, right?  But what does that mean?!  We knew from the start we wanted to go to Italy for our honeymoon and being foodies, we want to enjoy real pizza and gelato in the streets, sip frothy cappuccinos in pavement cafes and enjoy a glass of Prosecco or two.  But after a few people asked where we're going, some people seem quite shocked we have chosen Italy; 'oh you can go there anytime, you should do a real experience for your honeymoon!'.  Etc, etc. This got me thinking – after all, we considered Italy was a real experience!

I flicked through the magazines for inspiration but to be honest I wasn't feeling particularly inspired by plunge pools on stilts in the ocean and white sand beaches – I know it sounds crazy but I just feel a bit over that whole scene.  I realise other people love this and whatever floats your boat and all that (because boat floating may be all there is on a desert island!) but to be honest, for me personally, I feel like the romance is a bit contrived.  You're sharing the same patch of sand as 40 other honeymooning couples, there is nothing to do, you can't really leave your resort and the whole thing is basically a marketing wheel for wedding couples, with your credit card at the hub of it – well, those are my thoughts anyway.

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Honeymoon Infographic

Image Source: Kuoni

Speaking of credit cards, that brings me to cost – how much are you supposed to spend on this most significant holiday of a lifetime?  We really didn't know how much to budget – at first we pitched up with £2,000 but realistically, it's actually looking closer to £4,000.  Asking a few of my friends what they considered "normal", responses ranged from £800 – £10,000.

Looking at two hotels we like (one being £3,000 for 2 weeks all inclusive and one being £3,000 for one week BB) two friends gave completely different opinions:

Friend One: Don't be reckless and start your married life in debt.  Do the most cost effective one and spend out on excursions – you can always go back in 5-10 years to do the more expensive one"

Friend Two: It's your honeymoon, book the luxury one, sod it – you'll only do it once and I would expect to pay at least £10,000 on my honeymoon

In fact, the general consensus was that I should get a new credit card or a loan for the occasion which I find a little scary: are people really spending that much on this holiday?  A friend of mine who spent £800 on her honeymoon to Tenerife in September explained that she had paid for it with the money she received as gifts without spending any of her own money.  Sensible?  She just shook her head and said  "I would have gone on a road trip to America if I could have done, but it was coming in at 4k and I'm already maxed out on credit cards and they won't loan me anymore.  Jess, just put it on a credit card and enjoy it!".  You might be interested to hear that this friend advises people on credit and investments for a bank, by the way! 

Ah well, I bet Tenerife was great!  "It was ok…" she said, followed by a long pause – I could sense she regretted not having the honeymoon of her dreams.  And is that how it's going to be?  Will I regret it if I get it "wrong" or does being a newly-wed mean that even a Travel Lodge in Luton would be romantic?  There is so much unspoken pressure on getting it right and knowing where to go and what to spend.  I feel like I'm being pretty sensible about it all one minute but then, in the blink of an eye I'm caught in the middle of the marketing hype, thinking we absolutely must have an infinity pool and a private dinner by sunset.  Marketing is what I do for a living, so I'm being sucked in by the same tactics I use for my clients!  It's so difficult with an emotional purchase knowing how much is too much – how do you honeymoon without remortgaging – a friend of mine actually HAS just remortgaged in order to go to the Maldives for the week!

It is at this point, I enlist the help of an expert – Suzanne Asbury from Designer Travel, who tailor makes your honeymoon to your budget and expectations.  Suzanne listens to our requirements patiently and comes up with myriad options that are suitable.  Having worked in the travel industry for years, she confirms that the most popular destinations for honeymoon are the Indian Ocean; places such as the Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Zanzibar, along with areas like Bali and Lombok, American road trips from the West Coast to Vegas and other places in the top 10 include Hawaii, Mexico and, our favourite, bella Italia – Venice, Rome and the Amalfi Coast.  I’m desperate to know if I really do need to fork out £10k for a nice honeymoon, but Suzanne assures me that each couple spend a different amount and that she can work to any budget but that on average, the amount for a 2 week honeymoon is around £5,000.

Although it sounds like a lot of money, many couples such as ourselves, are using wedding gift registry instead of traditional gift lists where the wedding guests donate towards your dream honeymoon.  This is offered by travel companies like Designer Travel, or independently through websites such as buy-our-honeymoon.com

Suzanne says “booking a honeymoon is the single most important and memorable trip you will ever make and it must be right as you will want to talk about it for many years to come, however it is very personal to the couple so it has to be what is right for you and what your dream holiday looks like.”  She literally does design everything to your requirements so it is completely bespoke to the way you like it (eg if you are crazy like me and will only fly with Thomson!).

So where does this leave us? I heard Joan Collins say this week "everything is far too expensive, including luxury".  I think she's right. And it's helped me draw a line under my honeymoon spending.  Private dinners on pristine sands with full moons and a violinist to serenade us are all de rigeur when planning a honeymoon.  Underwater restaurants, planes that transport you via the water, hot air balloon rides, swimming with dolphins and even photo sessions with a photographer capturing the love between you on a deserted beach – this is all 'the norm' now.  As someone recently explained their honeymoon to me – a weekend break in a local town following their wedding, even I felt a bit deflated for them, which sounds awful  (And I bet it was fabulous and debt free) but I am in a generation of people who have unrealistically high expectations (and high APR rates to go with it!).

At the end of the day, looking through our honeymoon options, there is nothing more I fancy than a bit of R 'n' R in an authentic Italian home, with a pretty view and somewhere I can drink Prosecco from the bottle and look at the handsome man I have just married – honeymoons are about one thing, after all – and that can occur anywhere in the world, as long as you're together!  One bottle of Prosecco + Italian hideway + beach for skinny dipping + gorgeous husband please, Suzanne….

So which honeymoon did we book?  You will have to wait and find out next year.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the whole honeymoon planning issue.  Have you budgeted for this, and kept within your budget. Are you of the mindset that you need to go somewhere exotic far, far away to experience something truly once-in-a-lifetime, or would you be happy with a short break in the UK somewhere warm and cosy and away from prying eyes, where you can celebrate the fact that you have just committed a lifetime to one another.  How much is too much to spend on a honeymoon? And




Jess Billingham, Blogger at Love My Dress and Founder of www.treatalady.com


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.