The Post-Millennium Honeymoon - Finding a Way to Make It Work for You

Once upon a time, your honeymoon was almost as big a deal as your wedding. Not anymore. Sometimes it seems like only the rich and famous get to have real honeymoons nowadays.
01/11/2014 12:20 pm ET Updated Mar 13, 2014

Once upon a time, your honeymoon was almost as big a deal as your wedding. Not anymore. Sometimes it seems like only the rich and famous get to have real honeymoons nowadays. The rest of us have to rush back to our jobs much faster than we'd like, leaving a swirl of memories behind us and a feeling of "how could something that took so long to plan be over and done with so quickly?" We're not ready to return to real life so quickly.

Traditionally, the groom was responsible for planning (and paying for) the honeymoon. But that tradition has gone the way of weddings paid for in their entirety by both sets of parents -- it's just not realistic for most couples anymore. Also, today's workforce doesn't have unlimited vacation time so if you need to take off a whole week before your wedding, odds are you don't have a whole week to blow immediately after your wedding. And if you do, you aren't going to spend two days of travel on either end to get to Fiji or the Galapagos Islands if you got married on the East Coast because it only leaves you three whole days to spend at your honeymoon destination once you arrive. So what are newly married couples doing?

Fortunately, the honeymoon has not gone entirely the same way as the engraved invitation. Meaning, it hasn't become an anachronism our mothers remember fondly as they run their fingertips over the flat backs of lovely wedding invitations. Many couples take "mini-moons" right after the wedding with the intention of taking a longer honeymoon on their first anniversary or some other future date. Some couples that have destination weddings go directly home but plan a second trip to a different destination for the honeymoon later on. Some of my clients switch venues (usually to something more private and secluded), cut themselves off from any guests who are still here, and spoil themselves rotten for a couple of days without ever leaving our island. I'm an advocate of all of the above.

But the traditional, unrushed, honeymoon getaways of yesteryear are no more for the average Joe (and Josephine) who have 14 to 21 days of vacation in the entire year to work with and less understanding supervisors than those who existed 50 years ago. And the belief that the groom should plan and pay for the honeymoon is pretty much past tense too.

For the most part, brides still do the bulk of the planning although I must give men credit -- every year more of my grooms take an active role in putting together their destination weddings with their brides. In one case, the groom planned most of the wedding for his bride in medical school who really didn't have time. But generally speaking, it seems like most of the honeymoon planning gets done by the same person who did the wedding planning -- and that's usually the bride. Probably in part because that person is on top of the overall budget and knows the timeline they have to work with down to the very last detail.

Who pays for what is usually a non-issue long before the wedding, especially because the vast majority of couples have combined their households long before they actually got married. Even if they haven't done joint bank accounts yet, they combine paychecks for the basics of life already, and together they're paying the vast majority of their wedding tab. For many couples, it's a balance of how much to spend on their wedding versus how much to put into the honeymoon (thus taking money away from the wedding budget). Quite a few brides and grooms would rather have all the bells and whistles on their wedding day guilt-free, so they postpone the big honeymoon trip until farther down the line. But I have had a couple of clients who spent twice as much on their own honeymoon for two than they did on their entire wedding weekend for 40 guests. So obviously, priorities vary by individual couple. Those priorities are what will determine how much honeymoon will (or won't) be happening within 12 months of the actual big day.

Is it bad to postpone your honeymoon? I don't think there's anything wrong with putting off a big extended vacation together if it makes more sense for both of your schedules. I do think you should take a couple of days away together (even if you only go to a bed and breakfast a few hours away or to a fancy hotel in metropolitan area where you live) so that you can breathe, absorb the enormity of the step you've just taken together and appreciate the little details that you each noticed independently before you forget to share them. Once you return to the swirl of life, the details will get fuzzy faster than you can imagine. Especially as you settle into real life, writing thank you notes and doing everything you didn't do while you were getting ready for your wedding for a few months beforehand.

Whether you honeymoon or mini-moon, and no matter who plans it, just remember that it's really a time to turn off the phones, turn off the laptops and all your other electronic leashes and focus entirely on one another. Try to avoid social media too. It's hard to do that in a world that's been wired up so we're always connected, but this is one time where nobody will find it odd that you're unreachable. Take advantage of it!

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!