You made up your mind to have a romantic destination wedding far away from daily routine and your city. You started your research for best deals and then you definitely encounter resort ads for free weddings. Free?! You are definitely intrigued. You do some more research and make some phone calls. Some of your questions get answered, but you get more confused about details. How free is it really going to be?read more...
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According to some estimates, it takes about $32,000 to get married. Granted, some couples have some help from their parents, but such amount still takes financial toll. This is the reason why so many coupes are looking for ways to save as much as they can. And there are some creative ways to do that. If planning is done very meticulously, free honeymoon can definitely be scored – all the newlyweds have to do is align honeymoon location with hotel’s loyalty program.
Let’s explore this option a bit more in detail:
Most hotels and airlines have loyalty and membership programs where you can get points and miles just by staying at the hotel chain or frequently flying. The fastest way to accumulate the most points is to open and use hotel and airline reward credit cards. Plan your wedding way in advance and you have a good chance to save enough of these bonuses to get a complimentary stay, flights, and luxurious upgrades.
Most people have their favorite hotels or resorts and frequently stay there, so it’s only natural to want your wedding celebration and honeymoon there. Hotels are professional at organizing big celebrations, definitely have big ballrooms to utilize, highly skilled and trained staff to assist, and wedding planners to guide you. You can use many on-site perks, like fantastic views, spas, pools, and best of all – your bed is right there to fall into after the celebration.
Savvy newlyweds need to plan ahead, calculate, and save every penny to have a truly magical wedding and a beautiful honeymoon. Points-and-miles collecting might be a hobby for some people, but not everybody is aware that hotel wedding promotions can sometimes give extra points, so it’s double the bonus. Pay for the wedding and your suite with a loyalty credit card and collect extra points. Not only that, book your guest rooms on your card, and get even more points.
Some hotels, like Hilton, offers 100,000 bonus points and another 100,000 for partnering airlines if you celebrate the wedding at the hotel. Starwood Hotels also offer 100,000 points to be used towards the honeymoon stay. Hyatt awards 60,000 Gold Passport bonus points for every $10,000 spent on the wedding – this will buy you 2+ free honeymoon nights. Marriott gives guests 50,000 points or 15,000 miles for $16,667 spent. Think of what these points could get you – free nights in Hawaii or free flights to the Caribbean.
Starwood points are probably the most valuable here – they can be used on many perks, stays, and travel and gathered by ordering wedding food, drinks, hotel stay, and even from guest room price. Your guests will also earn points on their rooms, but the couple will enjoy triple points. The hotels of this chain also arrange the suite for couple’s first post wedding night for free.
The first and most important step to start the point gathering journey is to find the best card out there. You want to make sure that the reward card has the best sign-up bonuses. Make up your mind about what country or place you want to get married at and find out what hotels are there. Find the best hotel for your taste that also offers the best bonuses. Pay extra attention to annual fees and get a card that has no fees for at least the first year.
Once you signed up, start spending to make sure you accumulate the needed amount of points. Most cards usually give a few months to meet the minimum. Some points are reflected on your card right away, while some will take two months to become visible, so make sure you know the rules.
Always read the small print to know how to maximize your point gathering strategy. Spending money with some retailers might double your points and staying at some properties might give you extra points, so take advantage of that. You might want to have a bridal shower or host your bachelorette party at the same hotel or a chain property to get extra points. Thousands of dollars are usually spent on gowns, rings, flowers, photography, so consider using the reward credit card to pay for at least some of those items and collect points.
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Inquire about specials and extra bonuses when booking your wedding hotel and venue. This is where the possibility of getting extra points for guest rooms becomes very important. Put the security deposit on your card and settle the final bill with it too.
Now that you’ve collected all the possible points, call toll-free number on the card and convert those points into free flights or free nights for the honeymoon. Points might not be transferrable immediately, so make all the calls and arrangements in advance, don’t procrastinate, especially when it comes to hotel partner airlines.
You might want to know how realistic free lavish honeymoon from points is. Wander no more, let’s take a look:
We can use Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express as an example. New card holders receive 25,000 points after spending $3,000 during the first 3 months, which is not hard when planning a wedding. You will get 1 point for every $1 spent, so it’s 3,000 points right there. If both of you signed up for this card, you will have 56,000 points in 3 months. Consider paying for guest accommodations with your cards and receive more bonus points. Or better yet – book the wedding during some point specials, like SPG’s Triple-Up Event, and triple your points. Be organized with your planning and you might end up with a very significant amount of points to play with.
Read also How free are Free Weddings?
What comes after you’ve gathered all those miles is totally up to you and your preferences. Some couples spend all the points and miles on one extra luxurious night in a hotel that they wouldn’t normally afford. Others save the miles, book a less extravagant hotel, and extend their stay. Your 56,000 points could give you 4 free nights at Le Meridien Etoile in Paris or 2 nights at an uber luxurious 15th century Gritti Palace in Venice. The choice is yours.
There is a chance that you were the holder of Starwood Preferred Guest card already, had some points saved, and now added some more while paying for your wedding. 120,000 SPG points could very easily give you a dreamy Hawaiian honeymoon. 5 nights at Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay only cost 40,000 points. The rest can be used for an airfare to get there. All you have left is a resort fee and some taxes.
If you choose to use the points for air travel, keep in mind that on average, a round trip with coach to Hawaii from continental U.S will set you back about 40,000 points for one ticket, 80,000 for two. You can accumulate more points if you transfer your SPG points to the partner airlines – 5,000 points for every 20,000 transferred. Make sure you transfer 20,000 each time to get those 5,000. You will have 100,000 points if you transfer 80,000. This amount of points is more than you need to score that Hawaiian trip, but it's always nice to have some extra points to use for upgrades.
This great way of scoring free honeymoon is not for everyone. You have to have good credit to be eligible for credit card. Because the points might take months to accumulate and reflect in your account, you might not be able to use them for the honeymoon right after the wedding, so you might have to be patient and travel later. The points can be used for one year anniversary instead of honeymoon if you don’t want to wait.
The more you spend, the more points you will accumulate, so your budget has to be fairly large to get enough points for free honeymoon. Keep in mind that you will have to cover taxes and resort fees with cash, so it is not completely free. Hotel venue might not make sense for small weddings with small budget.
At the end of the day, be reasonable and don’t chase the free honeymoon if that will make you to cut corners on your wedding. The wedding should really be your main event and the best day of your life, the honeymoon comes after. Give yourself time to collect points stress-free, take time planning, and enjoy the process. Otherwise, this strategy really is not worth it.