While some engaged couples devote most of their attention to their wedding day, planning for a honeymoon can be equally important.
According to a 2013 survey by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, 77 percent of U.S. couples who got married the previous year went on a honeymoon.
These days, exotic destinations are in high demand for honeymooners, according to Jetsetter.com, a unit of TripAdvisor (TRIP) provides luxury travel services. Based on hotel room bookings made through the site's Personal Travel Planning service, the five most popular international honeymoon destinations are the Caribbean, Italy, French Polynesia, Thailand and China, which represent about 40 percent of all international honeymoon hotel reservations. The most popular U.S. destination for a honeymoon is Hawaii.
As far as accommodations and activities, Jetsetter reports that the most popular honeymoon request is for a beach vacation with a dash of adventure travel, such as horseback riding, kayaking or hiking. The most requested add-ons are champagne, rose petals, beach drinks, plunge pools and couples massages.
Honeymoon Planning and Spending
According to Jetsetter data, couples spend an average of $4,183 on their honeymoon accommodations. (The average wedding budget comes in around $28,000, according to the TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com survey.) Spending can exceed that, with one client of Jetsetter.com booking nine hotels in seven destinations.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%The most popular times for a honeymoon are April through July. On average, couples book honeymoon accommodations 2.5 months in advance. But there are anomalies. One couple booked 13 months in advance, and another booked the day their honeymoon started, according to Brad Thomas, the company's travel operations coordinator.
As fun as it is to read about the elaborate honeymoons of others, remember, when it comes to planning your own getaway, it's important to stick to your budget. Here are ways to cut costs and plan a romantic getaway that won't force you to start your future together in debt:
Choose a drivable destination. A big expense is the airfare, so if you do a road trip instead of flying, you may be able to splurge on a meal or a hotel room. If you want to be more frugal, go camping or stay at hostels or B&B's along the way.
Rent or borrow a vacation home. Sites like Airbnb.com, HomeAway.com and VRBO.com offer access to rooms, apartments and homes for rent around the world, typically for much less than a hotel room. Better yet, tap into your network and ask if anyone you know has a vacation home they're willing to loan you or rent at a deep discount for your honeymoon.
Ask for honeymoon discounts. Resorts, hotels, spas and restaurants sometimes offer discounts or deals to newlyweds so they can stay top-of-mind for future anniversaries.
Hunt for everyday savings. Look for coupons and discounts for restaurants, museums and activities at your honeymoon destination. You can search online before you go, and printed publications at or near your hotel will probably have coupons, too.
Try a retreat. If you and your spouse enjoy the same activities -- such as meditating, cooking or painting -- look for a weekend or weeklong retreat that you can attend together. Many retreats are so affordable you can start a tradition of an annual retreat around your anniversary.
Pick the off-season. No matter what time of year you get married, it's off-season or shoulder season somewhere. You'll find deep discounts on accommodations and activities, plus benefit from fewer crowds.
Delay your honeymoon. While you may feel like getting away from it all the moment your wedding is over, many couples opt to delay their trip so they're not as exhausted from wedding planning. The added benefit is that you have longer to save up for the getaway.
Stay home. Whether you call it a "staycation" or a "homeymoon," if you and your new spouse have the discipline to shut off the world -- including phones, friends and work -- you can pretend you're tourists in your own town. The money you save on hotel rooms and airfare will go a long way toward fancy restaurant meals and nights out on the town.
Whether you're a luxury traveler or a frugal one, a bit of ingenuity will make your honeymoon as memorable as your wedding.
Motley Fool contributor Michele Lerner has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends TripAdvisor. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.