Who Pays for the Honeymoon?

A Delicate Etiquette Question

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Not so long ago, this letter arrived from a groom's mother. She wants to know who pays for the honeymoon:

My son is getting married in 2 months and tonight told me the honeymoon would cost $10,000. He insists that traditionally the groom's parents pay for all of the travel expenses. I have never heard of this. My husband and I cannot possibly deal with this expense at this late date, and we feel that even if this is true, the considerate thing to do would have been to let us know a year ago, 6 months ago, not 2 months before the wedding.
Is the honeymoon in fact the groom's parents' responsibility?
I always thought a couple saved for their honeymoon and went somewhere they could afford. I don't want this to ruin what should be a happy time for the entire family, but this is very stressful for us.

The Answer:

Please don't stress because of this. In this day and age, there is no set rule on who pays the bill for the honeymoon.

However, if the bride is deeply involved in the myriad details of wedding planning, the groom often takes responsibility himself to plan -- but not necessarily totally pay for -- the honeymoon (with the bride's input, unless it's a surprise honeymoon).

Often a couple will fund the honeymoon themselves, especially when parents pick up the tab for the wedding.

Since it's important to take a honeymoon, a couple who can't afford an expensive one has several affordable options. In addition, they can delay their getaway, take a shorter one than planned, drive instead of fly, or visit a place in the off season to save money on hotel rates. And if they're really strapped for cash and willing to sacrifice some comforts, they can plan a truly cheap honeymoon.

Where to Get Honeymoon Funds:

One way to defray the expense of a honeymoon is by having the couple register for travel gifts at a Honeymoon Bridal Registry.

Other ways couples can pay for a honeymoon:

  • Cash from Wedding. Envelopes of cash can help to cover your honeymoon expenses. But unless you're having a huge wedding, you will have to augment them. 
  • Savings. If the wedding is many months away, start a dedicated savings account.
  • Credit Cards. Start using a credit card that offers points on every purchase. The Capital One Venture Card is ideal for couples traveling overseas, as it does not charge foreign transaction fees and you can accumulate points and then use them to wipe out travel expenses.
  • Bank Loan. Although interest rates are low, it's not a good idea to saddle yourselves with debt at the start of a marriage.
  • Crowdfunding. Think you can get strangers to help with your honeymoon expenses through social media?

What Real People Think About Paying for the Honeymoon:

Reader comments (now closed) on this etiquette question:

  • "I’ve read that the groom and his family are responsible for the honeymoon, not to mention everything the groom needs, plus the flowers. Sounds to me like you want someone to agree with you on getting out of paying for your responsibility. If the bride’s family is footing a massive bill, the least the groom’s family can do is put up for the honeymoon." — H
  • "That the bride’s family pays for the wedding and the groom and his family pick up the tab for the honeymoon reflect the old rules, when couples married at a younger age. Families can still agree to abide by those terms, but there’s more flexibility now, especially since lots of couples now foot the bill for their own wedding and don’t depend on parents." - Honey
  • "Sounds like they’ve handed you a lot of rules. And asking for honeymoon donations is tacky. But the rule I stick by is, if you go to the wedding, you give a gift. If you don’t want to buy help to fund their low-cost honeymoon, make a donation in their names to a charity they support and include the info in the card you send. Keep in mind that couples do remember if they’ve been stiffed by guests, and you don’t want things to get off on the wrong foot." - Ali
  • "That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard! In this day & age, there is no such thing as the bride or groom’s parents having to pay for any part of the wedding. If they wish to do so, then great but if not, them it should be the sole responsibility of the couple who decided that they want an elaborate honeymoon which they cannot afford!" — Señorita
  • "Your son is being cheap and rude to both his father and mother. Just think what he will want from you next." — John
  • "When I got married, my parents paid for the wedding and my new husband and I paid for our honeymoon with the money we received from our wedding guests. We also paid for the flowers, band and booze. My in-laws paid for the rehearsal dinner, filled out their family's invitations and helped pay for stamps. If the bride and groom would worry about the marriage and stop worrying about the wedding I guarantee more marriages would last." — Beverly
  • "If you want a $10,000 honeymoon, stop being selfish and pay for it yourself. My mom and I aren’t close and I haven’t talked to my dad in over 5 years. My future husband will have to deal with us paying for the wedding and the honeymoon together. It's a new day, people. It's not the parents' “responsibility” to pay for anything. Get with it." — Angela
  • "It's not fair for your son to ask you to come up with the money any pay for the honeymoon two months before the wedding. That may not even be enough time to book the hotel if they want to visit a popular destination! My advice: Either don't get involved or give them a check for what you can afford." — Randy
  • "You can’t pick and choose the traditions you want to stick to when it comes to marriage and weddings. If one wants to use the original traditions, the honeymoon was paid for by the groom, not his parents. The newer “tradition” of the groom’s family paying seems to be more popular, for obvious reasons. But if they want to say it’s traditional for the parents to pay, to that I would say let’s stick to the other traditions as well; like not having a baby first, like having a real job so you can support a family first, like not already having debt you can’t afford. If the kids get to be selective about which traditions count, then so do I!" — Father of Six
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