The Complete Guide to Every Type of Honeymoon
First comes the engagement ring, next the wedding band, and then the passport! After the stress and chaos of wedding planning have ended, many couples are relieved to on a dream vacation to celebrate the start of their marriage. But what is a honeymoon? This time-honored tradition is a way to disconnect from your career and personal life demands and spend time canoodling together. For those duos who want to understand better the purpose and history of a honeymoon, as well as the various types, consider this your 101 guide to the vacation of a lifetime.
What is a honeymoon?
If you're wondering about the definition of a honeymoon, here you go! As defined by Jen Avey, the vice president of marketing for the Destination Weddings Travel Group, a honeymoon is a chance for newlyweds to decompress after their lavish wedding, preferably in an exotic location. The idea is this is a special time to relax, soak up the freshly-married bliss, and look forward to their life together. For some married couples, this is a trip to the beach, a sightseeing tour in Europe; for others, it's making the long journey to a country they've always wanted to explore. It's meant to be a special, unique time when you can soak up the honeymoon phase and potentially, pick from many of the dreamiest honeymoon destinations.
What's the history behind having a honeymoon?
There are many theories about the origin of a honeymoon, and they vary based on culture and location. One concept, according to Avey, followed the 'marriage by capture' tradition where a groom would have to secretly steal his bride and whisk her away to an unknown location where her family couldn't find her. If it sounds scary, well, it was — but it's become a more romantic trip that couples plan together in modern times.
Another idea behind the honeymoon was born in the 19th century and was labeled 'bridal tours,' explains Kylie Carlson from The Wedding Academy. This was the norm for upper-class couples who would visit their relatives and friends who couldn't attend festivities.
Paula Ramirez, the Historic Mankin Mansion co-proprietor, also says the honeymoon became one of the first instances of international tourism in the 1800s. It also sort of gave the idea that a new relationship is better than an old one — but we know that's not true!
"It was once thought to mimic the phases of the moon, where a healthy marriage was at its peak at the beginning and would slowly wane after a couple's return home," Ramirez explains. "Now, of course, it holds a much more positive meaning!"
How about the word itself? Sources say it comes from The Babylonians! It referred to the month after the big day when the bride's father would give him 'mead' or honey beer. Weddings would fall in the lunar moon stage of the Babylon calendar, so the name 'honey month' was born, and later, called 'honeymoon'. Fun fact: In French, the honeymoon period is known as the lune de miel.
When do couples go on their honeymoon?
Traditionally, couples would go on their honeymoon a day or two after their wedding for a week or more, says Leah Weinberg, a wedding planner and owner of Color Pop Events. However, for many newlyweds, that tradition is changing and becoming more flexible. Sometimes it's in the first month of their marriage, other times it's a year later.
"Based on couples' schedules with school, work, or home life, taking time off right after the wedding may not be feasible," she explains. "And especially for couples who want to take a long honeymoon, they may be forced to wait in order to take an extended period of time off."
Also, some honeymooners may purposefully delay the start so they are well-rested after the wedding and prepared for the journey ahead. As wedding photographer Victoria Grace says, it's sometimes better to put a few days between saying 'I do' and checking in for your flight to save on cost, too. "Weddings are exhausting, and most couples who leave the night end up spend the whole first-day napping/sleeping and a nap at home is cheaper than a nap at a resort, for sure," she adds.
How long do honeymoons last?
As with most parts of a wedding and relationship, a couple gets to decide how long they want to go on their just-for-two vacation. However, sometimes, different factors are at play that impacts their decision. This includes a budget, the paid time away from work they have saved up, childcare, and so on. Traditionally though, Avey says a shorter honeymoon may last 3 to 4 days, while the standard duration is between 7 and 10 days. If you're battling time zones, couples often try to work in a few days to adjust, making two weeks a smarter option.
What are the different types of honeymoons?
While you and your spouse may enjoy the great outdoors, others want to go five-star luxury for their first married trip. As travel and tourism have transformed over the decades, so have honeymoon planning. Thus, there are all sorts of honeymoons — from a trending mini to a staycation. Here, a few to consider:
What's the most traditional honeymoon? It's where couples will go on vacation shortly after their wedding day for an extended period of time, usually a week or more, Weinberg says. For her and her husband, they decided to make it a 'once-in-a-lifetime' trip and picked a far-away location to be completely unplugged. You can think of this like two weeks of exploring Italy, finally visiting the bright lights of New York, driving through the National Parks, or even venturing Hawaii's islands.
If you're strapped for cash or don't have time to take away from work or caring for kiddos, a minimoon is a fantastic take on the traditional honeymoon. As Weinberg explains, this romantic getaway is when a couple travels to a more easily accessible locale for a shorter period of time immediately following the wedding. "Many couples will go this route because they can't take enough time away from their daily lives at that exact moment to go on an extended honeymoon," she explains. "Minimoons are also great for people who like to be realistic about how much time, energy, and bandwidth they have for adding another thing to their plates. Planning a wedding is a ton of work, and some couples might prefer to save the epic vacation for later on, so they don't find themselves having to plan that while also planning a wedding."
One of the most common honeymoon types is booking a week-long, all-inclusive honeymoon, according to Carlson. You can think of this as staying at a Sandals Resort, which's known for its romantic packages and experiences. For those duos who are new to traveling and haven't ventured too far away from home, this can be an easy transition into jet setting. "It can be quite intimidating to be thrown into a new culture, new currency usage, or even a new language, so purchasing an all-inclusive package ensures that everything is taken care of," Carlson says. "You and your new spouse will be free to enjoy one another!"
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it's when you and your new spouse decide to have a private wedding alone or with a very small amount of guests. For those newlyweds who decide to make the act of the wedding a private event, an elopement moon is usually part of the trip, following right after you make it official.
Avey says couples who have a particular cause close to their hearts may choose to go on a volunteermoon, where most of their time is spent volunteering where needed. "This could be helping to build houses in a country that was recently devastated by a hurricane, or spending time with children who may not know how to read or write, and teaching them certain lessons that will help improve their lives," she explains. "Many couples decide this is where they want to spend their time and money while starting their new life together, which is highly admirable."
Say, you really want to go to France. And you also want to go to the beach you grew up traveling to when you were a child. Plus, it would be fun to have a skiing trip once it's winter, too. For couples who can't choose and want to keep the newlywed vibe going, the manymoon approach allows you to take several getways the first year of your marriage.
Destination Wedding/Honeymoon Combo
If you're considering a destination wedding, you could end up saving big time by bundling it with your honeymoon. After all, when you choose to exchange vows somewhere exotic and exciting, it's already a vacation for you and your guests. In fact, many people pick from some of the best honeymoon destinations as a way to get the most 'wow' out of this experience.
"Many all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean offer free honeymoon packages to couples who get married at their resort, so it's enticing for couples looking to save some money while still having the tropical honeymoon they've always wanted," Avey explains. "Some couples choose to upgrade their hotel room or even change locations after the wedding, so it feels like two separate celebrations: one with your family and friends and one with just the two of you."
Sure, candlelit dinners, sunset cruises and a couples massage all sound wonderful. But two weeks of non-stop alone time can become boring, even if you'd madly in love. That's where the idea of a buddymoon was born! Instead of going as the only married couple, you invite another one to join in the fun for part of the trip... or the whole shebang.
If you and your partner already have children together, you may not want to leave the kiddos behind for two weeks. Or, maybe you can't afford to take both a honeymoon and a family vacation. When you smush them together, you get a familymoon, where your babies are part of the adventure. If you go this route, it's recommended to have at least a portion of the trip by yourself — whether a private room or taking Grandma along for the journey to watch the kids.
Grace says honeymoon staycations have become very popular, especially since the pandemic began. This is much like a minimoon, but an even less expensive option. As Grace explains, usually, a couple will rent an Airbnb near their home or a hotel downtown nearest them and spend a couple of nights near home but 'away' in their hometowns to play tourist. Or ahem, spend all weekend with the 'do not disturb' sign hanging on their door. Or, maybe booking a couples massage and trying a new restaurant for the first time.
"Or they'll hire a cleaner for the day of the wedding and come home after the wedding to a super-clean house, spend the next few days ordering take out, watching Netflix, and opening wedding gifts," she says.