You’ve likely spent lots of time and energy planning your upcoming wedding ceremony and reception.  But have you done much planning for your honeymoon afterward?

There’s much more to do beyond just booking reservations for the trip, because your honeymoon isn’t just a vacation – it’s a critical time that lays the foundation for your new life as a married couple.

Here’s how you can plan the honeymoon of your dreams:

Deal with tough issues ahead of time. Discuss issues like money, in-laws and the division of household chores well before your honeymoon so they don’t surprise you by popping up during your conversations on the trip, turning into arguments, and ruining your honeymoon. Make sure you and your future spouse take a premarital inventory test that reveals valuable information about your personalities and helps you understand each other better. Go through premarital counseling from the pastor who will marry you, or another trusted source. Learn about each other’s finances, and meet with a financial counselor to discuss how best to merge your finances after you’re married. Find a couple (perhaps through your church) you admire who have been married a long time and are willing to mentor you and your new spouse.

Save sex for later. If you’ve kept your relationship sexually pure throughout your engagement, keep up the great work and continue to wait until after your wedding to consummate your marriage. If you’ve already had sex, stop doing so and commit to being chaste until you’re married. Understand that it’s crucial to wait until you’re married to have sex for many reasons, such as being faithful to God’s design for marriage, developing the self-control you each need to be faithful after you’re married, building trust in your relationship, and making sure your relationship is truly based on love instead of just on lust.

Know that research shows religious married couples have the best sex lives – by far – of any other types of couples, in terms of frequency, satisfaction, fun, and duration of their sex lives together.  Realize that research shows that living together before marriage dramatically harms couples’ relationships and makes them statistically far more likely to either break up before marriage or divorce after marriage than couples who choose not to live together before they get married. Recognize that it’s worth it to save sex for after you’re married. Abstain from all types of sexual activity until you’re married. Ask God to help both you and your future spouse keep your thoughts pure and control your media habits so you don’t fall prey to temptation to have premarital sex.

If you’re having trouble remaining pure and are facing a long engagement, consider moving up your wedding date so you can get married sooner. Remember that your sexual purity is more important than a fancy ceremony. Talk with your future spouse openly and honestly about whatever fears you each have about your sex life together, and pray for God to help you overcome each one. Pursue healing from God for any painful sexual issues from in your past, such as sexual assault, promiscuity, immorality, fornication, pornography, and sexual abuse. Enlist help from a professional counselor or clergy person if you need it. If either you or your future spouse has had any prior sexual relationships with other people, be sure to get a thorough medical exam and tests to check for sexually transmitted diseases. Share the test results completely with each other; never hide crucial health information. Pray for God to help you forgive each other for past mistakes and not carry bitterness and anger that can poison your relationship over into your marriage. Discuss your family planning options thoroughly and think and pray carefully about which option is best for you and your future spouse.