smart spending

8 ways to cut honeymoon costs

2. Or wait until the last minute. If you are flexible in your travel plans and can live with some uncertainty, there's a lot to be said for booking travel at the last minute -- say two weeks before the wedding. "These days, the cheapest travel is to be had either 10 to 11 months in advance or at the last minute," says Fields. "Sign up for airline newsletters that advertise last-minute bargain fares and packages or visit travel Web sites for these types of deals."

3. Decoupling your honeymoon from your wedding. Since most weddings are in the summer and planned without a lot of thought for saving money on the post-wedding trip, you may have to fork out a lot more dough to get where you want to go. "Consider taking a post-wedding weekend trip, then doing the longer trip in the off-season, when rates are lower," says Leah Ingram, author of "The Complete Guide for the Anxious Bride."

This idea of decoupling the honeymoon from the wedding may be particularly attractive to career-driven couples who might have a hard time taking time off from a busy office for the wedding as well as an extended honeymoon. "You don't even have to wait that long," Fields says. "If you get married in June, you can do the trip in September and save significantly, especially on popular destinations."

4. Ask for freebies and barter for services. Everyone loves newlyweds, so take advantage of this nearly universal sentimentality by asking for discounts or freebies, suggests Ingram. If you tell your waiter that you're on your honeymoon, you may get a free dessert or bottle of wine. Ask the desk clerk at the hotel where you're staying for any free upgrades, as well.

Take this a step farther by thinking about what services you and your fiancee can offer that you can use to barter with a resort or hotel for a discount. "When I was planning my honeymoon, I was doing event photography," Ingram says. "I contacted the resort where we had booked our stay and asked if they needed any photography services. I was able to negotiate a 25 percent discount off our room rate in exchange for doing some photography."

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5. Scout deals out in advance. If you're set on an adventurous honeymoon, check out official tourism Web sites and travel guides for discount-minded travelers in advance, Fields recommends. Most tour companies have Web sites these days and many offer coupons, especially if you're willing to commit to taking a tour on a less popular day such as Wednesday.

"Just remember, you can overschedule your honeymoon by packing in too many activities," Fields says. "You really don't have to do something every day. Extra tours and trips like snorkeling really add costs to your honeymoon, so be selective about the tours and special activities that you do commit to."

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