These steps are key.
Credit: Bryan Gardner

Planning your honeymoon is so exciting, but taking care of all the logistical travel details is little less fun than dreaming about the white sand beach where you'll soon be relaxing with your future husband or wife. Depending on your desired honeymoon destination, one such detail may be getting a passport (or at the very least, renewing one you already have). If you're traveling to any spot outside of the United States-don't forget that Hawaii and Alaska are both part of the U.S.!-then you'll need a valid passport that meets your destination's requirements (some countries require that your passport is valid for at least three to six months after your return date). Don't have one? There's no need to worry. Here's a step-by-step guide explaining exactly how to get a passport in time for your newlywed trip. Bon voyage!

Give yourself enough time.

Even in our modern world of high-speed Internet and instant-ordering capabilities, scoring a passport still takes time. It's recommended that you give yourself at least six weeks between first applying for your passport and your departure date, as this is the timeframe for regular service, which costs $145. If you're working with less time and need a faster turnaround, you can opt for expedited service, which is around two weeks' time, however expect to spend an extra $60 for a grand total of $205. If your budget is tight, make sure to give yourself plenty of time.

Decide which name you'll use.

This is key-especially for a bride-to-be who is thinking about changing her name after their wedding. "If you're getting your passport before you get a marriage certificate, you will be stuck with your maiden name on your passport for 10 years, unless you want to go through the process of having your passport reissued months later," explains Jack Ezon, a luxury travel agent at Ovation Vacations. "Regardless of what you do, make sure your airline tickets correctly reflects the exact and full name listed on your passport." Believe it or not, but you might not be allowed on the plane otherwise!

Get your passport photo taken.

You'll need to include a 2x2 passport photo in your application, so you have to complete this task well before applying. While you can take them yourself, it's easier to have them professionally done at a local pharmacy, post office, or printing shop. There are a number of specifications that must be met in order to have your photo accepted, such as it being taken on a completely bare background, having a neutral expression, and that both of your eyes are open. Ezon suggests ordering four photos just in case you need them to get a visa to a country you may be traveling to as well.

Complete a passport application.

Prior to applying, you must fill out a passport application (intended for first timers, so search for a renewal form if you have an existing passport that's set to expire), print the application, and bring it with you, explains Jennifer Doncsecz, travel industry executive and president of VIP Vacations Inc. "On this application, you will receive instructions on what other documentation you need to provide with your application," she says. Along with your completed application, you'll need to include your original birth certificate or proof of citizenship, a valid photo ID (like your driver's license), and a 2x2 passport photo. "When you have all of those items, you can call your nearby application office and set up an appointment," says Doncsecz. "To find out where you can apply, simply visit the U.S. Department of State's website."

Wait for it in the mail!

Once you receive your passport back in the mail, you're all set to jet! "When you return from your honeymoon, you can change the name on your passport for free (as long as it's been less than a year since your passport was issued)," explains Allison Kobasky, co-owner of Over The Moon Vacations, a luxury honeymoon planning company. "All you have to do is submit Form DS-5504 with your passport, another color passport photo, and your original or certified marriage license."


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