Our $700 Honeymoon & What I’d Do Differently Today

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I will admit one thing to you. I think the honeymoon concept is a bit strange to me.

Honeymoon is defined as “a vacation or trip taken by two people who have just been married,” according to Cambridge Dictionary.

After planning and paying for a usually expensive wedding (averaging $35,329 in 2016), a married couple goes on to enjoy a short trip of marital bliss.

And usually, that trip costs money: $4,466 on average and $9,954 for luxury honeymooners.

In total, a newly married couple will look at a $40,000 bill after all is said and done.

I’m not passing any judgement here. I’m mentioning these figures to show that marital bliss does come at a price.

And I wonder how much of all of this is due to expectations from family and society.

Related: 6 Financial Expectations In Asian Families

No wedding turned two weddings

Before Mr. FAF and I tied the know, we didn’t want to have a wedding. In my mind, it was not an effective way to spend money.

We would rather throw a small dinner party with our close friends (fewer than 20 people with no wedding dress, flowers and all that jazz).

We wanted to save the money for a down payment for our new home.

At first, our parents agreed. However, my dad later changed his mind and demanded a wedding in Vietnam and another one in China.

He said that his daughter’s marriage had to be announced to the families on both sides. Maybe he was also afraid Mr. FAF could still be seen as single when he went back to China and could get another wife.

To make a long story short, after much explaining and debating, we went along with my dad’s wish and had two weddings with almost 200 guests each, among whom fewer than 10 in total were our friends.

You can see why those weddings were mainly for our parents.

Mr. FAF and I were in the US, so our parents did all the planning, guest listing and invitation. All we had to do was show up at the wedding and take pictures. That alone was exhausting.

I was and still am grateful for what our parents did. But I secretly hoped that I would never have to do this whole wedding thing again for my own sanity.

Related: When Money Matters In A Relationship

The road trip (or honeymoon?)

We did a road trip to Universal Studios with two friends.

After attending those two rushed weddings within three weeks, Mr. FAF and I came back to the US feeling relieved that all those ceremonies were finally over.

I knew I wanted to travel with Mr. FAF to explore different places during our time together.

But it wasn’t specifically for the honeymoon which I didn’t consider important or even necessary at the time (mainly due to our lack of money).

Mr. FAF, however, wanted to go on a 3-day road trip to Universal Studios in Orlando.

He said we were two poor grad students, but we should explore life a little instead of pinching pennies all the time. I gave in.

He invited two of his colleagues to join us on the trip to lower the costs (i.e. gas), which I had no problem with. Below are the break down of the costs:

Motel: $180 (3 nights at $60/night)

Tickets to Universal Studios: $300 (2 tickets for $150 each)

Gas: $100

Food: $100

Total: $680

— We splurged on a TGI Friday’s steak dinner which was about $40.

— We bought bread, fruit, and some cheap snacks to eat during the trip. We also brought a rice cooker to cook instant noodles. We ate the noodles with Chinese radish pickle and fruit (i.e. mandarins, oranges).

— We also bought some random food at Universal Studios (more details below).

Related: How To Save Money On Food While Traveling

The memories

Hello turkey leg, I like you!

I have to be honest with you.

Aside from some random fragments of my fun car and roller coaster rides at Universal Studios, I don’t remember much about the place.

I recall seeing Disneyland from a distance. Mr. FAF wanted to check it out.

But the ticket was too expensive (more than $100), so we balked. We told each other we would go there with our kids one day.

What I remember and liked the most about Universal Studios and the trip (besides being with Mr. FAF), however, was their delicious smoked turkey legs (about $7 each).

I must have eaten 2-3 of those during our three day trip. I even got one to put in the fridge and eat the next day we drove home. It was one of the most delicious things I had ever had. Definitely memorable!

I might not be excited about Universal Studios or Disneyland, but the idea that they sell delicious smoked turkey legs definitely appeals to me.

Related: Why We Eat Out While In Debt

What I would do differently

Up until now, I’m still not sure if that Orlando trip was our actual honeymoon or not.

I asked Mr. FAF this question. He said no and that we should do a real honeymoon trip sometime in the future. But with two kids and 4.5 years of marriage behind us, a honeymoon is just not necessary or even appealing anymore.

We still plan to travel together, but it’s because we want to see different places. It’s not because we need to splurge on a short trip that’s supposed to be all sweet and loving for two newlyweds.

You can say we never had a honeymoon, and I wouldn’t even argue with that. After all, who would go on a road trip honeymoon with two other people? And I didn’t even mind that Mr. FAF and I had company. It made the trip more fun and cut costs.

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t choose to go on an expensive honeymoon either. I would, however, try to plan a more frugal trip that would cost us about $300 or so.

$700 might not sound like a lot to other people. But to two poor students like us at the time, it was a lot of money.

And the most important thing is that I don’t remember much about Universal Studios or Orlando except for the $7 smoked turkey legs and the scorching hot weather.

Related: How To Travel Frugally – Our $387 Trip To Raleigh


In a way, I’m glad Mr. FAF and I got to see Universal Studios. Now we can tell other people we’ve been there and don’t need to wonder what Disneyland is like (we saw it from a distance).

I also realized that spending big money on a trip won’t automatically make us any happier. Case in point: I was happier eating the smoked turkey legs and spending time on the road with Mr. FAF than riding those roller coasters.

But I know that not everyone is like us. We prefer to experience different things in life, and that’s why we have different financial priorities and plans.

Sometimes we joke that if everyone were frugal (or cheap?) like us, restaurants, shopping malls, and the tourism industry would go bankrupt.

In the future, we might take our kids to Disneyland so that they know what it’s like to grow up in America. But it’s not a must.

They might not be interested in Disneyland just as how we weren’t interested in going on a honeymoon. But if they are, we will make it happen for them (on a budget).


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9 thoughts on “Our $700 Honeymoon & What I’d Do Differently Today”

  • At least you chose the right one. I’d give all the money in the world for that.

    Ps: Hope the kids aren’t giving you too much trouble. 😊

  • We had a small $$ wedding present from in-laws but decided not to do anything. They told us it’s for fun specifically.

    I had fun paying the mortgage down 🙂

    I had one of those turkey legs once….I didn’t like them 😥 maybe I got a old one not it was salty and hard to chew.

  • We have a similar story when it comes to the wedding. We wanted a small wedding while my dad wanted a relatively grand one and finally, he won.

    We went to a proper honeymoon and absolutely loved that place. We probably would not be able to visit some of the places we visited during the trip now.

  • We had a courthouse wedding so we felt fine about going on a honeymoon. We went to Hawaii and that was fun. If I could do it over again, I’d be more adventurous and go to Eastern Europe or something like that. Hawaii is too easy for young folks. 🙂

  • Oooh, those turkey legs are so good! I always crave them after we leave Disney each time. I do wish they sold those in the frozen food aisle so I could pick some up and bake them at home haha.

    Your honeymoon is yours to do as you wish! Think of how much the money you’ve saved has compounded to now :).

  • We had a honeymoon after the our wedding but wasn’t the typical one where you would go to a resort island or anywhere international. We went to Yosemite to go rafting and hiking. It was a fun trip and plus it wasn’t all that expensive. We spend money for gas, lodging, food and the rafting fees.

  • We had a honeymoon after the our wedding but wasn’t the typical one where you would go to a resort island or anywhere international. We went to Yosemite to go rafting and hiking. It was a fun trip and plus it wasn’t all that expensive. We spend money for gas, lodging, food and the rafting fees.

  • So many people live together before marriage that I don’t think the word “honeymoon” is appropriate anymore. How about saying wedding trip? I have never been a fan of expensive weddings and trips at a time when every penny is needed to start a marriage. However, everyone’s circumstances are different, and to each their own way of doing things is important.

  • My parents wanted a big wedding. I tried to get out of it, but relented. My parents also said that they would pay for some of our honeymoon. Whatever we didn’t spend on the wedding, we could use that towards our honeymoon. My husband and I preferred the honeymoon (which we took a year later). So, we cut costs where we could. Various friends did our cake, hair/makeup, photography, etc. I made a wedding playlist instead of getting a band/DJ. I bought my wedding dress (which looks like a regular dress that I can wear any time) from Macy’s on sale for less than $100 during Labor Day or something. My husband also bought his suit right before the wedding and got a President’s Day sale discount too, plus a shirt for a half off.

    We are adventurous people and wanted to hike in Patagonia, do something that we couldn’t do any other time. This is how we looked at our honeymoon. It wasn’t just about this special time to celebrate our love, but more about doing something that we wouldn’t do at any other vacation. We also set up a honeymoon registry. Instead of people buying us gifts we didn’t need, people could purchase things for our trip like a nice steak dinner or a hotel night. And that worked well for us, because we got to have even more of our honeymoon paid for instead of us shelling out the money for it.

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