Friday, April 15, 2011

Vacationing among Eight Rivers

Wow, we have been so productive this week!  We finished ordering bridesmaid dresses AND booked our honeymoon!

Which is good because we really should have done both weeks ago.

I have really been dragging my feet on booking our honeymoon, partly because I kept obsessively checking the Sandals website to see if prices had gone down but also because relying on the honeymoon registry makes it difficult to determine a budget.

We have only set aside $1,000 for our honeymoon and have been trying to determine how much we can count on from our guests.  Having no idea how to make that determination, we asked a few couples who got married recently and had similar guest lists to ours about their gift cash flow.  From their reports, we basically can guarantee that we'll get $1,000 cash and think it would be reasonable to assume we'll get $1,500.

With a $2,500 budget in mind, we went to a travel agent.  I know, who does that these days, right?  The thing is, with our Sandals dream just out of reach, we did not know where to go to find a good replacement.  I have a AAA membership which gives me free access to their travel services, so we figured we'd give them a shot.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that they were in fact cheaper than booking online!  At this point, I knew all of the Sandals options by heart, and AAA's rates were a good $300 cheaper for a 5 night stay.  Unfortunately, Sandals was still out of our price range, but the travel agent helped us find other nice, all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean that were A LOT cheaper.  We left with some good options and the delightful feeling that, yes, it was possible for us to have the honeymoon we wanted.

Unfortunately, we literally visited AAA the day before we moved up to San Jose, and by the time things were settled enough for us to revisit booking our honeymoon, prices had skyrocketed.  Of everything we've done so far, booking our honeymoon is what I most regret waiting on.  However, there was an advantage:  of the resorts we were looking at, only 1 now fit into our budget, making the choice much easier.

Of course, I use the word "fit" loosely here.  You see, a 5 night stay would suit our $2,500 budget nicely.  But both of us really wanted at least 6 nights and ideally 7.

Daniel and I have had a lot of, shall we say, discussions about wedding stuff, but none have been as heated as those regarding the budget.  You guys know by now that my budgeting frustrations and fears are outstripped only by my feelings about the guest list.  Daniel does not share my on-the-brink-of-losing-it worries, particularly when it comes to gifts.

7 nights at our resort plus airfare costs about $2,800.  I think expecting enough to pay for that is being a bit too optimistic, but Daniel is confident that we will receive at least enough to cover it and that if we don't, he and I will have no trouble covering the leftovers.  Despite my financial pessimism, he convinced me to book 7 nights.  I'm still scared we won't get enough to cover it, but I guess the worst that can happen is that we'll have to put a few hundred dollars on a credit card for a few months.

OK, enough worrying, time to look at pretty pictures of our resort:  Riu Ocho Rios

This was actually my first choice after Sandals anyway.  It's in Ocho Rios, Jamaica which is nice because it has better scuba diving, has more stuff to do, and is a little safer than the places we were looking in the Dominican Republic.

The resort looks pretty nice.  Not as romantic and awesome as Sandals, but I still think we'll be happy with it.

The swim-up bar was a requirement for me.  I mean really, what's a Caribbean vacation if you can't drink tropical beverages in the pool?

I hope we have money to do some excursions too.  One way or another, I am climbing up this waterfall:

But if we are totally broke when we go on our honeymoon, at least the resort has fun activities.  I have always wanted to try windsurfing.

I am so glad we decided to go with an all-inclusive resort.  It will be so much more relaxing not to have to think about how much we're spending on food and drinks, and when you think about it, the prices are really reasonable.  We're paying less than $300/night for a nice resort AND unlimited food and alcohol.  That is better than just the room price at a lot of equally nice resorts in the U.S.

And even though we're going to the Caribbean during hurricane season, neither of us could give up those lovely, tropical white sand beaches.  But, um, cross your fingers there isn't a hurricane while we're there.

Mmmmm, pretty.  Can we go now?

How did you decide on a honeymoon location?  Did you do a honeymoon registry?  If so, did you share my budgetary concerns?


  1. That looks amazing!! I wouldn't worry about coming up short on your budget. I'm with your fiancé and his point of view. It'll all be worth it once your relaxing on the beach with a frosty drink in your hand and your HUSBAND by your side!

  2. Ditto! Don't worry about covering the cost; you'll make it work out. Even with our mostly-college-student and poor-family guest list, we still made out like bandits and were able to completely finance our honeymoon. I'm sure you guys will have even better luck than us.

  3. We had a couple thousand on credit cards after the wedding was over. We managed to pay it all off by Christmas, so it was totally worth it splurging for those extra thousands. Don't skimp. No regrets! There's always time to pay it back later.

  4. Wow!! All inclusive and a SWIM UP BAR?

    Hey, I actually went to your site to see if the registry portion was updated yet ... but I still can't see anything. Is it my computer? If not, how can I access the registry?

  5. @Dana: I'm afraid it's not up yet. Worry not, we'll have all of the registry info on the website by the time invitations go out.

  6. Looks fabulous. I want to go now. We are hoping to go to Hawaii for ours and will book that coming up very soon. I can't wait, I already need a vacation so bad!


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