I can’t believe it, but I am 6 months away from our wedding. Time has gone very fast since we were engaged in September 2018.
I wanted to write this post to catch yall up on what has happened (wedding planning wise) since my last update (way back in March 2019). My goal for paying for the wedding is that I can earn a butt load of travel rewards that we can redeem for a once in a lifetime honeymoon (and hopefully have more to spare by the end of it).
In my last post, Plans for a Free Honeymoon via Travel Hacking, I outlined many of my wedding-related costs so far and how many travel rewards we redeemed.
Cliff notes version
- I bought a house in November 2018, so I started wedding planning in December
- Found out the hard way that weddings are crazy expensive when you have over 150-200 guests
- From December to March I paid many of the initial deposits for our wedding (venue, Photographer, videographer, wedding coordinator), then I paid off the DJ, Photobooth, and my fiancee paid off her wedding dress
- Opened up three business credit cards and earned 240k travel reward points for our wedding expenses
Let’s pick up where I left off last and continue with the wedding planning and Travel Hacking updates.
April Wedding / Honeymoon Planning
After my fiancee paid off her wedding dress in March, we met minimum spend and received a 70k bonus on the United Business explorer card. We had signed up for this card specifically because it had an increased bonus at the time (70k points for 5k spend) and we knew we were going to book at least one leg of our honeymoon flight on United.
Now, this is where I had the most fun /most stress – booking our honeymoon flights to Bali & Singapore in business class.
A couple of unexpected issues hit me right off the bat. There was a technical issue booking Singapore airlines flights via United.com, and the overall availability for business class award flights for my itinerary was limited.
I ended up attempting to book my trip three times. Each time I would book, and 24hrs later, I would receive an email that my reservation didn’t go through. The failed bookings were because United didn’t show accurate partner airline availability on their site. I was starting to lose faith that I could book my flights.
However, after many hours of research, I found a route that worked. It just meant we would have to take a detour and spend the night in Vancouver – which we both didn’t mind.
Here is a detailed view of each flight, points paid (for two people), taxes paid, and more.
I ended up pretty happy with my flight redemption. I paid $340 in taxes for flights worth over $17k (although I would never actually pay that much for a trip). All my long-haul flights are in business class, so we are excited to experience business class for the first time and enjoy all the airport lounges.
April Wedding Expenses
After booking the flights, we paid for the following:
- Wedding Cake
- Save the Dates, stamps
- Fiancees Wedding Band
- Marriage Prep Classes
With these expenses plus my regular monthly expenses, I was able to open my 2nd Chase Ink Preferred card. I gave the 20k referral to my fiancee to book her bachelorette flight since we depleted most of our points to book our honeymoon flights. I earned 80k bonus points for meeting the minimum spend.
May/June Wedding & Honeymoon Planning
In May, my fiancee opened up the Chase Ink Cash card. This card had a 50k point bonus after spending 3k points in 3 months. It’s a great card because there are no annual fees and you earn a 50k bonus.
In May/June we paid for the following wedding expenses:
- Wedding Guest Book
- Photographer Payment #2
- Wedding Calligrapher (for invites and wedding signs)
- My Wedding Ring
Surprise bonus Trip
In June, Southwest Airlines opened up flights for the fall to Hawaii. After hearing about cheap prices for flights during their first openings, I had to keep an eye the prices when they released the new flights.
Since we have Companion Pass, we get a buy one get one free deal for flights for Southwest. My companion pass expires in January 2020 (We have enjoyed it for the last two years) – so that was extra motivation to get to Hawaii this year. Also, it’s my Fiancees birthday in November so I thought a trip to Hawaii would be a fun way to spend her birthday.
When the flights opened up, I found a flight from Austin to Honolulu for 37k points round trip. Since we have Companion Pass, that means 18.5k points per person round trip. You won’t find a better price out there for a round trip flight to Hawaii per person.
So after booking the flight, I booked us four nights at a Hyatt on Waikiki beach by transferring my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt. Then booked us a rental car for the trip with points from the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Five day trip to Hawaii – only pay for food, activities, and gas. Not bad for just paying for wedding expenses on travel credit cards.
- Flight for 2 – 37k points
- Hyatt Hotel Waikiki Beach (4 nights) – 48k points total (12k points per night)
- Rental Car (SUV) – 13k Chase UR points
My Fiancee already met the minimum spend on the Chase Ink Cash card, and we are just waiting for the points to hit her account (expecting the first week in August). I also just got approved for the Chase Ink Unlimited card so I will earn 50k bonus points as well after meeting the minimum spend.
The plan is to use our 106k points (50k bonus Chase Ink Cash, 50k bonus Chase Ink Unlimited, plus 3k spend for each card) on our hotels in Bali for our honeymoon. After doing some research on hotels in Bali I’m confident I will be able to book a 5-star villa with a pool in Ubud (jungle of Bali) for a reasonable amount of points, plus we are planning on staying at the Grand Hyatt Bali for a few nights as well. I’ll write another update post later this year and will breakdown where we will visit and breakdown the cost.
Upcoming Wedding Expenses
We have some more significant wedding expenses coming up in the August-September timeframe.
- Catering (including bartenders, staff, etc.)
- Floral for the wedding
- Groomsmen/Bridesmaids gifts
- Parents Gifts
- Wedding night hotel
With these expenses coming up, I expect we will open up a few more travel cards in August and September. My fiancee will sign up for the next card (most likely Chase Ink Unlimited), and then I will get the next one after that. Since I already have nearly all the Chase Business cards, I will most likely move to Amex, Citi, or Capital One for my next card.
As of now, we have earned 398k travel rewards from our Wedding expenses thus far (when I meet the minimum spend on my Chase Ink Unlimited – 451k). Wedding expense wise we have spent a little over $13k total thus far. My goal is to spend less than $25k for the wedding.
The good news is that I have done a good job saving every two weeks in my Capital One 360 savings account* via my automatic savings plan. So I don’t feel overwhelmed with any of the wedding expenses. We also did an excellent job planning (credit to my fiancee) and haven’t had any crazy unexpected expense yet.
We are excited to be less than six months away for our big day. The power of travel hacking has made this process exciting, and our planning has made everything go smoothly thus far.
More updates to come!
Travel Hacking Recommendations
Before I finish up, I wanted to share a few Travel Hacking related tools that I found that I have received value from recently.
I have enjoyed using Travel Freely so far. You can store all your travel cards in their system to keep organized on when you signed up for each card, annual fees, etc. You can add two users so if you have a spouse on board; it’s valuable to see all information in one spot. They have a calendar view and alerts you can set up to see your upcoming annual fees and minimum spend dates.
They also have a feature that recommends your next card. It uses the data you entered for the cards you already have and makes the most optimal choice based on several factors (Chase 5/24 rule, ability to sign up for business credit cards, etc.).
Autoslash is another excellent site for all travelers (not just travel hackers) – Autoslash finds the lowest possible rental car for you using all the best coupon codes and applying them automatically for you. It is the cheapest site I have seen for rental cars.
However, the best feature is that once you book, it will automatically email you when there is a better price available for your rental during your specific dates. You can easily cancel the existing reservation and book the new rental all on their site. For one of my previous trips, I used them and saved over $40 on my rental.
Also, if you’re interested, I have been doing travel hacking consults for about nine months now and enjoy it. By researching credit card and travel solutions for other people, I have gained more insights into different reward programs and possibilities for cheaper/more efficient travel hacking. Check out my Travel Hacking Consult page for more details (it’s free).