Groom power: steps to planning a perfect honeymoon

Groom power: steps to planning a perfect honeymoon

Traditionally, honeymoon planning is the one job that the groom is charged with. And as it’s the start of your married life, it’s crucial it’s done right. Stick to these tips and your lady may just be swept off her feet

For any normal holiday, there's a lot to consider: when to go, where to go, how long for, what to do when you get there; the list is endless. So finding ways to inject some romance into this trip - the one that you and your future spouse will always remember - can be tricky. Alexandra Gregg spoke to some chaps who have managed to pull it off…

1. Decide how long to go for

Where you go often depends on how much time you can get off work. And remember, if it's immediately after the wedding, your partner is likely to want to take off a few days before the ceremony to get prepared - lessening her annual leave allowance. Sometimes, it may be that you're able to take more time off than just a couple of weeks. Perhaps you're both on a career break, or have managed to wangle a sabbatical? "I was pretty lucky in that I got to plan a four month mega-moon," says Ian Howells. "I had a very tolerant wife who gave me pretty much free reign as long as there was a bit of honeymoon luxury thrown in! We shared some similar passions that were indulged; rugby, good food and drink, road trips and outdoor pursuits, but I am keener on walking/hiking and she understandably didn't want to spend the entire trip in a tent!"

2. Choose your destination

Once you've figured out how long you can go away for, the next choice is where you'll be going. This can be difficult, particularly if you both have conflicting hobbies, likes and dislikes.

On his mega-moon, Ian and his wife, Ruth, travelled through south-west USA, Fiji, New Zealand, Western Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand - catering to both their needs en route. "There was compromise in order to spin our money out, for example, a week in a tent in the national parks, then four days high rolling in Vegas; tickets to the rugby in NZ, but with three weeks in a campervan, not swanky hotels," he explains. The couple also stayed with friends and family along the way, straying from the traditional honeymoon path somewhat.

But not everyone has four months to pack in all the things they want to do. Michael Bradley spent weeks rather than months on his honeymoon, and had to reach a compromise on where to go: "I had already planned an adventurous trip all over Borneo, but my wife-to-be had other ideas. She wanted Mauritius; I countered with Seychelles. In the end we found a way to combine the two on one trip. And we still got to do Borneo the year after!"

3. Make it extra special

Although planning the honeymoon is a feat in itself, worthy of commendation, it's the little things that make it special and memorable. "We had the honeymoon things thrown in: Thai massage, a beach day or two in Langkawi, cocktails in Fiji," shares Ian. "But in reality it was more about shared experiences than any great single romantic gesture. We hiked, snorkelled, went to shows, took a helicopter over the Grand Canyon; saw condors, manta rays, whales and hummingbirds. We tasted wine in the Margaret River, tequila in Tijuana, cocktails in Volivoli and craft ale in San Diego. We travelled on boats, bikes, coaches, campervans, tuk-tuks and taxis, and we've four months of memories to carry with us for the rest of our married life."

Steve Fryer, who has been married to his wife Ann for 32 years, didn't have quite as much success on his honeymoon. Warning fellow hubbies about the perils of 'bad planning' he says: "I organised the whole honeymoon myself - and didn't even tell Ann where we were going until near our wedding day. I wanted it to be a romantic surprise. The idea inside my head was to sweep her off her feet and carry her away to the romantic city of Vienna. But the reality seldom matches the dream." He describes his decision to book the budget trip - which involved spending the second night packed into a railway carriage like sardines - as a big mistake.

"The bad planning wasn't so much about the frustration as the exhaustion," he reckons. "We'd had little sleep on the first night (as you might expect), none whatsoever on the second night, and we arrived in Vienna - after two days of lugging heavy bags across Europe - totally exhausted." That said, the pair did manage to grab several memorable moments amid the chaos: "Although I never really got to dazzle Ann with the city I loved, we did at least have some romantic Viennese moments - including some music, sausages and cake - and we had plenty of passion. And we are still happily together after 32 years." Plus the pair did spend a night in a posh London hotel on the first night of their trip!

4. The admin

When you're pulling together such an important holiday, the admin side of things can get forgotten. Once you've booked, be sure to get travel insurance as soon as you can. Read the policy document carefully before you buy - check you'll be covered for any activities you plan to take while you're away, especially things like diving or extreme sports. Money-wise, it's best to take an insured credit card or travellers cheques, as if they get lost or stolen it'll be much easier to reclaim the cash.

Be sure to check if there are any restrictions for your destinations. Check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for their latest advice and read guide books to help familiarise yourself with native cultures and customs. Most importantly, if you need a visa, apply for it well in advance. Also make sure you have at least six months left on your passport when you travel.

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