• Posts Tagged ‘honeymoon’

    The Price of Darkness

    by  • May 18, 2010 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    darkbedroom.jpg

    photo: Gustavo Minas

    When Her and I first moved into our modest apartment, we bought some room-darkening pull-down shades to cover our windows. Back then we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on window treatments so we cheaped out and bought some low-quality stuff. Fast-forward five years and the shades are cracked and torn and don’t do a very good job of keeping out the light.

    A little background as to why this is so important to me. I cannot sleep if a single sliver of sunlight catches my eye in the morning. This is usually a good thing duing the work week as it is relatively easy for me to rise out of bed. But during the weekend this is torture. I hate being wide awake at 7:00 AM on a Saturday morning, envious of Her’s sweet, blissful sleep.

    We found this out when Her and I went on our honeymoon. After the, uh, festivities of the first night of our honeymoon, we knew that we would be tired so we made sure to close all of the drapes in our hotel room so that we could savor the sleep. The next day I woke up and looked at the clock and was surprised to see that it was 2:00 PM in the afternoon! The room was still black as night, and I couldn’t have asked for better sleep.

    It has been more than a year and a half since the Great Honeymoon Sleep of 2008, and we were finally fed up with the poor light management in our room. After Her’s unsuccessful journey to Home Improvement earlier in the week, we decided to go to our favorite home improvement store, Lowes. We immediately found what we wanted: room darkening cellular shades.

    We picked these for a few reasons: first, they darken the hell out of the room. When the shades are down, it is like night. Second, they offer some insulation for our drafty windows. Third, they are cordless meaning that our cats and other small mammals won’t get tangled.

    We did pay a relatively hefty price: $180 for a set of three. I think that’s a fair price to have the chance to sleep like the dead.

    Stupid Prioritization

    by  • August 1, 2008 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    This weekend, Lollapalooza descends upon the city of Chicago for another 3-days of festival goodness.

    And for the first time in 4 years, we’re not going. Something about saving money for a wedding and honeymoon or something like that.

    In fact, we’ve been to no summer music festivals this summer.

    Le sigh. To have everything would be to go into debt. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?

    Stupid Mistake: Missed Travel Insurance Deadline

    by  • January 14, 2008 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    I just discovered we made a stupid mistake. We missed the deadline to apply for travel insurance. WE are planning to spend a few days of our honeymoon in Turkey, a country that has seen a recent surge in terrorist threats and activity. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we won’t be affected, but we had planned on purchasing an upgrade to our travel insurance policy that would allow us to cancel that part of our trip in case we feel that the terrorism has become too dangerous. We booked our honeymoon through a travel agent, and she dutifully sent us the paperwork for the travel insurance, along with a nice hand-written note reminding us to fill it out and promptly fax it back to her.

    We didn’t.

    For a month, the paperwork sat untouched on the desk and we kept saying, “We really should send that in soon” but neither of us even bothered to read it. Finally, I decided to start this task. I researched travel insurance and found out that the one our agent had recommended is highly rated and considered the best policy for where we’re going. You can even apply online. Hooray!

    So I start the application, and one of the first questions is, “When did you first pay a deposit for any part of your vacation?” I answer it truthfully, and instantly many of the insurance upgrade options are grayed out. A tiny message informs me that these options are only available in the first 15 days after the first deposit is made on any part of our trip. Oh nos!

    We can still purchase the basic coverage, but not the upgrade that would let us cancel due to terrorism. Now we just have to hope that everything settles down in time for our trip. We did learn a valuable lesson though: book your travel insurance as soon as you put down that first travel deposit!

    Budget Vacation Tips

    by  • June 26, 2006 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    Would you like to take your family of 4 to Paris on $991? How about a honeymoon in Paris for $600? I discovered this very practical vacation bargain article tonight while looking for ways to trim costs on our honeymoon. It’s a Christian website, but there’s no proselytizing in this article. One of their suggestions includes doing a Home Swap (where you and another family swap homes for your vacation), which I’ve always been interested in doing. I stayed in a furnished apartment when I studied abroad in France, and I’ve always thought that home feeling would be nice to have on all trips abroad. This article has lots of creative ways to save money on your next vacation.

    Honeymoon Registry Conclusion

    by  • February 18, 2006 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    After all the analysis we’ve done, we’ve concluded that while we want to have a honeymoon registry, we don’t want to use the services of a professional honeymoon registry service. He’s quite good at making websites, so our new plan is to attempt to create our own honeymoon registry website in conjunction with our wedding website. He likes a challenge and said, “Ooh! A project!” when I first suggested the idea. Aside from avoiding all the bizarre fees and potential issues, we’re thinking that by doing our own coding we’ll have a really personalized site. Instead of a bland, generic photo we can post photos of our actual itinerary. Hopefully this will be a fun gift idea for our guests and a simple way for us to have the honeymoon we dream of. Now we’ve just got to pick a destination!

    How Honeymoon Registries Get Rich Off of Your Money

    by  • February 18, 2006 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    While I’ve been looking into Honeymoon Registries as a potential consumer of their services, I’ve also been trying to figure out how they make money to stay in business. It appears to me to be quite a profitable business scheme.

    First, they charge an initial fee to set up a registry. Then, as each registry gift is purchased, they skim a high commission off the top. What’s more, they hold your gifts until your wedding, so they have the use of your funds until then. They can invest the cash and keep the interest that accrues. Pretty nice deal for them! They can also offer service add-ons, like announcement postcards, for a small fee. In essence, you’re paying for their advertising when you give out these cards to your guests. As a final kick in the butt, they typically release your gift check so late that you will want to pay extra for their special “rush” services.

    Based on a sample website which shall remain anonymous, here’s my estimate of the total revenue they could earn from a couple registering for a $3,000 honeymoon.

    Setup fee: $150
    Commission: 15% of $3,000 = $450
    Interest: 6% of $3,000 = $180
    100 Announcement Cards: 100 cards @ 50c = $50
    Rush service fee: $25
    Total Revenue: $855

    That’s $855 that could have been spent on the honeymoon itself. Ouch.

    Problems with Honeymoon Registries

    by  • February 18, 2006 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    When you’re getting excited about your honeymoon and you see a flashy honeymoon registry website, it’s tempting to sign up right away and start planning all the fun stuff you’ll do! Fortunately, I was able to resist temptation long enough to ponder some fishy issues with these websites. What’s interesting is that because the industry is so new, I haven’t been able to find a single news article or anything that examines these issues. All the articles I could find simply mention the honeymoon registry as a fun and exciting new way to register. Here’s my list of potential problems and scams to look out for.

    •You are still required to make your own reservations. These may require an up-front fee which you have to pay before anyone gives you the gift. In fact, you may have to pay for your entire honeymoon yourself before you receive any of the gift money, since the check is usually cut immediately before or just after the wedding.

    •The management of the funds is not regulated. What happens if the company embezzles your money or goes bankrupt before you receive your gifts?

    •The websites often don’t have contact information such as a real address of phone number. What happens if you have a problem with the registry?

    •The fees for the registries are often very high for the level of service they offer.

    •Many of the registry sites advertise “free” or “unique” services, then charge hidden fees for common services. Typically, the only free sites are the ones that require you to book their packages through their own agents. Then you may be paying a premium for the whole travel package.

    •It is very difficult to find user reviews for registry websites. Some companies post positive reviews on their own website, but there’s no guarantee these are real.

    •The honeymoon registry industry is new and unregulated. There are no industry standards or registry-specific consumer protection laws.

    How the Honeymoon Registry Works

    by  • February 17, 2006 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    There are lots of variations on how these work, but most follow the same pattern.

    1. The couple creates an account on a honeymoon registry website. Setup fees range from free to $150 or more.

    2. The couple arranges their honeymoon travel through their own or one of the website’s partner travel agents. The couple and the travel agent work together to make reservations, book flights, etc. The couple pays up front for any reservation or down payment charges.

    3. The couple logs onto the registry website and creates their honeymoon registry. Some websites will post a photo of the couple and a paragraph about their honeymoon plans. The registry includes a list of your honeymoon plans and how much each activity costs (based on the couple’s own estimate). This cost can be broken down into smaller gifts. For example, a $1,000 airline ticket can count as two $500 gifts. The couple lists how many of each they need, and the registry will show a current count of how many still need to be purchased. Some registries show a small generic color photo next to each activity, while others have only text descriptions.

    4. The guests are notified about the honeymoon registry. Some registries will provide complimentary postcards to direct guests to the registry.

    5. Guests log on and choose a travel gift to purchase. They do not actually purchase the travel, but instead make a cash gift to the couple. When they check out, a service fee ranging from 5-20% is added to their purchase total to cover the cost of the registry website. Typically the gift is paid through PayPal or a similar service. The gift giver may be able to print out a certificate that states that a gift has been purchased. (This can be given to the couple but has no actual value.) When the couple receives the cash gift, they may spend it however they choose.

    6. What happens to the cash gift between the purchase of the gift and the wedding is not always clear. A minority of registry websites state that they hold the cash in an insured bank account, and that the cash is never used to pay for the company’s expenses. The majority of registry websites do not state where the money goes in the interim. This means that they may use the couple’s cash however they please and the gift is not insured.

    7. At a designated time, typically a week of the wedding date, the registry website company totals the value of the couple’s gifts and makes the funds available to the couple in the form of a check, direct deposit or Paypal. The company may charge a fee for a paper check or for rush processing of the gift. The couple may have to wait until after your honeymoon to receive the funds.

    8. The honeymoon registry may offer post-honeymoon services, such as compiling a list of gifts given, or posting photos of the honeymoon.

    9. The registry is closed between 1 week before the wedding to 90 days after the wedding. When the registry is closed, a final payment is made to the couple.

    New Theme: the Honeymoon Registry

    by  • February 17, 2006 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    We have recently begun planning our wedding registry, and we were planning on doing both a traditional gift registry as well as one of those newfangled honeymoon registries. These allow couples to register for all the aspects of their honeymoon, from airline tickets to souvenirs. Initially it sounded fantastic! I began by doing some lunchtime surfing of online companies that offer honeymoon registries. They’re more complicated than I first assumed, so I decided to make an Excel spreadsheet to help me compare services and fees. After a while, a pattern of shady businesses with hidden fees and crappy services began to emerge. I searched for user reviews of these websites and came up empty.
    So I’m starting a new theme on honeymoon registries, where I’ll post about some of the things I’ve learned about them.