Save on the wedding to splurge on the honeymoon

save wedding splurge honeymoon

Save on the wedding to splurge on the honeymoon

When I was little Stephanie growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a wedding planner. I most definitely had the organization skills, I had a love for all things pretty (dresses and jewelry), I could plan a bomb event, I enjoyed making hip playlists, I loved DIY arts and crafts, and I could sew up an accidental hole in a bride’s wedding dress in a snap. Where did I get all these skills from? None other than my mother- the queen of most things. If there was anything that needed to be done, she could do it better than the rest. My mother instilled great work ethic, organization, and creativity within me. But when my imagination led me to dream of being the fairest wedding planner in all the land, my mother knew it wasn’t right for me.

I will always remember the day she told me she would support me in whatever career path I chose, but she just knew wedding planning wasn’t what I truly wanted. At the time, I was resentful and didn’t understand how me and wedding planning weren’t a match made in heaven. However, now that I look back on that moment, it’s very clear.

Weddings aren’t everything.

Don’t get me wrong. Weddings are beautiful and fun. Weddings are beautiful with their white lace, their twinkling lights, their fancy schmancy chalkboard signs, and their bling bling frosting the bride. Weddings are fun with their “you may kiss the bride” moment, their first dance bride dips, their bridal party shenanigans, and their face smashing cake eating moments.

But, weddings aren’t everything.

Today I am going to share how you should save on your wedding and splurge on your honeymoon. 

If you are a woman who already has your mind made up that you want a big, fabulous wedding, keep reading. So was I…

save money splurge honeymoon

Would you rather have a good, big wedding or a perfect, small wedding?

Consider having a smaller wedding

All my life I envisioned my future wedding being big, grand, beautiful, and over-the-top fun! After spending a week with Zach back in 2010 and knowing he was the one God made for me, I began to turn my vision into a detailed plan. Even before he popped the question, I had a document on my laptop called “our wedding”. My wedding checklist, my vision board of ideas, and the theme of our wedding was cultivating. I knew exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it all to look. All I had to do was book the right people to make it happen and shop for the necessities.

My wedding was 80% planned before he even popped the question.

Naturally, after we got engaged, the topic of wedding planning came up (literally the next day). I shared my visions with Zach and he quickly opened my eyes to something called reality. He said we had two options; We could have a grand wedding and a tiny honeymoon or we could have a small wedding and the honeymoon of a lifetime.

I went quiet.

A light bulb went on in my head. What do I really want from all of this? Well ultimately, I want to vow to love this man for the rest of my life. I want to spend as much quality time with him as I can and experience as much as possible now, because you never know what God has planned for the future.

save wedding splurge honeymoon

The answer to my two options was simple. I knew I wanted the honeymoon. At that moment, my childhood dreams of a big wedding were easily swiped away for a better reality- a honeymoon of a lifetime with the man I love.

I realized what my mother and Zach knew all along. Most weddings tend to overshadow the true reason for a wedding: love. The pomp and circumstance of weddings make the whole wedding day more about others than the love between two people. They can be superficial and brides can be a little crazy sometimes.

A big wedding means more guests that you have to walk around and say hi to which leaves less time for you two. A big wedding means more wedding planners, DJ's, hair dressers, etc running around asking you questions and not allowing you serenity to enjoy your day. A big wedding means more money being spent on one day of your life than any other day, ever. One day.

The average week long honeymoon costs around $5,000.

The average wedding costs around $35,000.

You could have 7 weeks of honeymooning or one big, BIG day.

The Dorworth’s made their decision: small wedding & great honeymoon.

save wedding splurge honeymoon

Boy, are we so glad we made that decision. I’ll skip our wedding day details in an effort to not bore you (because you know I had pages and pages of details planned). Ultimately, our wedding day was pure happiness. We had no guilt of making our parents pay for this day because we took the responsibility all on our own. Neither of us were stressed, we had our 7 closest family members there to share in our joy, and guess what...the entire day was about us. Our small wedding was perfect!

That’s what getting married is all about. The love between two people. Not the size of the wedding, the cost of the wedding, the band you hired, or how drunk everyone got. It was about us. And I felt like a freakin’ princess.

save wedding splurge honeymoon

Overall, our intimate wedding cost us under $8,000 and it was still beautiful and fun. We just made budget-friendly decisions for everything.

Ways we saved money on our wedding:

  • I rented my wedding day Oscar de la Renta jewelry and coat from Rent the Runway instead of buying things I would never wear again (get $30 off your first order)
  • I made the table setting decor from supplies at Michael’s craft store instead of buying pre-made things
  • I used the dishes and some furniture from the rental house instead of buying our dinner setting necessities
  • I hit play on the iPod stereo before walking down the aisle instead of hiring a DJ
  • I set-up a tripod and our camera to film the ceremony instead of paying a videographer
  • I made my own beautiful cake (with my mom’s help) instead of ordering one
  • We hired a private chef to cook our dinner instead of paying for catering ($400 for a fancy meal for 7 people)
  • My husband made our place holders, my dad made our ring boxes, my mom made our ladies robes, & my sister made our photo booth background
  • We rented a million dollar house on VRBO and had the wedding in the backyard instead of paying for a venue. Our family was able to stay here the entire weekend and paid nothing!

Afterwards, I sold my dress, decor, and accessories on Tradesy and made over $1,000 back. We made out like bandits on that one. Never once did I feel like it wasn’t the wedding of my dreams. Never once did I regret having a small wedding. I had the one thing that mattered that day: a happy and loving husband. That’s all I needed.

save wedding splurge honeymoon
save wedding splurge honeymoon

A wedding tends to be more about the guests. A honeymoon is all about the couple.

For our honeymoon we went to the most romantic country on earth: Italy. We got to visit Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Pisa, Cinque Terre, and Bologna. Our little Italian honeymoon in 2015 will never be topped. Since then we have zip lined across Hawaii and taken railways across Spain and nothing compares. Italy will always be our place. It was the place where our love blossomed. It was the place we chose to spend our hard earned money over the course of two weeks instead of on just one day. And boy, did we get our money’s worth in Italy. The experiences we had there were unforgettable and our travel itinerary was legit.

Traveling with your spouse is a beautiful thing. You get away from the everyday stresses of work, cleaning your house, doing the laundry, and having to wake up at the butt crack of dawn to go to work. You get to erase all of that and actually enjoy time together with less distractions. Sleep in until 11am if you want, eat 5 spaghetti bolognese dishes a day, drink a bottle of wine before noon, snooze in the middle of the afternoon... that’s the beauty of it. There’s no stress. Just the two of you and quality time. Nobody to please but yourselves.

Couples travel is a chance to bond over life experiences.

italy honeymoon

Thanks to Italy, we can now say...

-We rode a gondola through the winding canals of Venice

-We learned how to sip wine correctly from a vineyard owner in Tuscany

-We climbed all 296 steps up to the top of the Leaning tower of Pisa

-We stayed among the cliffside, colorful homes in Cinque Terre

-We drove (correction: sped) a Ferrari through the countryside of Maranello

save wedding splurge honeymoon

Had we had a huge wedding, none of that would have been possible. Had we had a budget honeymoon, we couldn’t have visited that many nice places and stayed there more than a few days.

I am grateful for my husband, who taught me that I should care less about what others expect and more about what I know will make me/us happy.

follow our journey


For us, a small wedding and a grand honeymoon was the perfect beginning to many, many years of true love and happiness.

destination dorworth

About the Author

Hello, we are Zach (@zachdorworth) and Steph (@stephdorworth). We are Mr & Mrs traveling the world one romantic city at a time while perfecting obsessively organized travel.

  • Beautiful story and I hope more people listen as you said Weddings shouldn’t break the bank. Mine was small as well and because of that we was able to get our first home and it meant more to me than a big Wedding. Have a Beautiful day and I look forward to visiting again soon.

    • admin says:

      Glenda, so glad to hear you agree with us! That’s wonderful that you invested in your first home with that money instead. Thanks for following. 🙂

  • Sreekar says:

    That sure is an honest post if ever there was one. Even I feel that we splurge so much on the wedding. Honeymoon makes more memories as far as I can tell:)

  • Kathi says:

    That’s exactly what I would do! I don’t get it why you would spend that much money on a grand wedding – I think sometimes it’s really about showing off a bit as well, isn’t it? The other thing is of course not wanting to offend any friends or family members you can’t invite, but really – as you say – who is that day supposed to be about? Splurging on your honeymoon was definitely the right decision 🙂

  • Cat says:

    That’s exactly what my husband and I did! We had a small wedding – not only to save money but also to keep it intimate. 2 weeks in Italy sounds amazing! You made the right decision 🙂

  • Marianne says:

    It’s unbelievable how much a wedding costs nowadays and I’m constantly in disbelief how couples save and pay for it! Not against what they want, btw, it’s their day anyway. But I admire couples like you who knows their priorities and make everything work to get them! I love your tips and I will surely keep them in mind once I go through my own wedding. Wait… I forgot, I still have to find myself a groom! 😛

    • admin says:

      Marianne, thanks so much! We are happy with our decision to pay for it on our own and have it our way. Good luck finding a groom!

  • I totally agree with you and hope people will really listen to what you’re saying here. You can have a nice, meaningful wedding without breaking the bank. It’s the honeymoon – any travel, really – that will bring you closer together as a couple and build memories that last forever. I try to tell this to my kids, too!

  • Mireille says:

    Aww, I loved your post! And I completely agree. I would also prefer to spend our money on the honeymoon than to have a giant wedding. And I bet Italy was pretty awesome 😉

  • Drew says:

    Great tips. It is amazing how much money people are willing to spend on a wedding, especially those who don’t really have that kind of money to spend. I’ve heard of people taking out loans to pay for a wedding. That is the worst possible financial decision. My wife and I did a destination wedding, but kept it small (under 70 guests) and made it a day time wedding, which cut down on drinking. We also skipped the seated dinner, and just stuck with heavy passed appetisers all afternoon. I managed to work a few connections with friends in the wine/beer business and got either free or deeply discounted alcohol, which saved a ton of money.

    • admin says:

      Drew, yes it’s crazy the financial burden some people put themselves in for one day. A destination wedding sounds pretty wonderful as well!

  • Kirstie says:

    This is a wonderful idea! Honeymoon > Wedding. All valid points and I am thinking I should do the same someday! Any man would agree 😀

  • Indrani says:

    That indeed is the wisest thing to do… spend on honeymoon rather than on weddings.
    Italy is a fantastic choice. 🙂 Good you got a travel loving partner for life. 🙂

  • I’d definitely go with the honeymoon over the wedding. In fact, we did: $5K on a wedding, $35K on a year-long trip around the world. Lived to tell the tale… At any rate, congratulations to you both!

  • Megan Jerrard says:

    I love this sentiment – yes weddings are beautiful, as you’ve said, but these are one day full of memories, and I would far rather have a small wedding and spend big on my honeymoon. And I agree that most weddings overshadow the reason you’re therw anyway – I love simple weddings, there’s something very romantic about stripping everything back to the simplest of ceremonies to exchange vows of true love.

    We saved a lot on our wedding (we did a destination wedding in Hawaii) by doing everything ourselves, making invitations, ordering table cloths off ebay etc. ANd because we were quoted something stupid like 2 k for a cake, and we couldn’t bring our own onto the resort grounds, we got beautiful hat boxes, stacked them, iced them, and had pictures with a wedding cake! Lol creativity for the win … no-one eats the cake anyway!!

  • Paige says:

    These are amazing tips! My husband were lucky enough that my parents gave us a decent amount to put toward our wedding and we managed to stay within that so we didn’t have to go into any debt and could have our epic honeymoon in Hawaii. It’s worth it to have the honeymoon, for sure!

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