You’re engaged. You’re meeting with wedding planners and caterers, and you’re browsing in bridal shops and touring potential venues. You think planning the wedding is the hardest part and the honeymoon should be a piece of cake. It’s just a matter of deciding where you want to go and booking a flight. Right? Wrong.

Even if you think that planning the honeymoon is easy as pie, plan that in advance too. A year or more before the wedding, start thinking about when you’d like to travel.  Some people like to honeymoon immediately after their weddings, while others prefer to wait a while. This is also the time to discuss where you’d like to go, what you can afford, and what sort of accommodations interest you. Think about it, talk it through together, and do your research—but don’t dawdle, because scheduled flights can only be confirmed up to eleven months in advance.

Plan Ahead

One of the most common pitfalls engaged couples face is failing to attack their honeymoon planning with the same enthusiasm they’re dedicating to wedding plans. Failing to start honeymoon planning in time could mean that you might have to spend this one-in-a-lifetime trip in a place that wasn’t your first choice, or that you can’t afford, or that your dream property is booked up. Also, if you don’t have enough time to compare travel insurance policies, you might run into trouble if you have to cancel or reschedule anything, or if bad weather hits. Anything and everything could go wrong.

Is there a timeline we should use when planning our honeymoon?

Book the Transportation

Up to 9 months before the wedding, you should have booked your flight and accommodations, and secured them with a credit card. Set up a folder to keep all your documents organized, and check into whether you’ll need any immunizations or special medications. Be sure to tell your travel agent or booking specialists that you’re going on a honeymoon—you may qualify for better deals. To save some money (after all, weddings are expensive), you can compare travel insurance rates and prepare ahead.

Renew ID

3 to 6 months before the wedding, make arrangements to obtain or renew your passport and visas if you’re traveling internationally. Ask a friend to watch your house, and reserve a place for Kitty and Fido at the kennel. Get any immunizations you might need, and book any excursions you plan to take or shows you plan to see.

One to two months before the wedding, confirm all your reservations and put a hold on your wedding registries, so gifts don’t arrive when you’re not home. Organize your luggage, read through government websites so you know what you can’t take with you, and buy guidebooks. Prepare a list of items you need to pack, and make sure you have enough money in your bank accounts to cover your expenses.

Pack Your Bags

One week before the wedding, pack your bags and make sure you have all the cash and traveler’s checks you need. Photocopy your government documents, like passports, and leave them with a trustworthy friend or family member. Place your mail on ‘hold’ at the Post Office, and deter burglars by canceling the newspaper and putting timers on your lights.

It takes a lot to pull off a major trip like a honeymoon, and you can never begin planning too soon! Use these tips and enjoy your time in the sun. Before you know it, the honeymoon is over and it’s time to settle into the everyday hum-drum of being married.