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First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. So correspondingly, first comes the honeymoon, then the babymoon, and then the family vacation, right?
Well, not necessarily. Just as modern couples are mixing up the traditional sequence of settling into family life, they’re doing the same when it comes to milestone-marking travel. Enter the “weddingmoon,” the newest trend in celebratory holidays surrounding nuptials.
Los Angeles-based TV host and lifestyle reporter Mar Yvette took not one but two weddingmoons before marrying last month: She and her fiancé spent eight days at Caneel Bay in St. John, revisiting a region where he had once lived and always hoped the couple could travel to together.
And then, just a week before their nuptials, they escaped again. “Since taking time off from work wasn't practical, we opted for a weekend getaway in [nearby] Laguna Beach. We didn't use our car once! If that's not a getaway from L.A., I don't know what it is. It really set [a serene] mood for us leading to our wedding day, and I would do it all over again."
Although Yvette says the longtime couple was motivated by the promise of reconnecting during a stressful time, she didn’t realize they were part of a larger trend of others doing the same.
"I didn't even know there was a name for it — we were telling everyone it was a pre-honeymoon,” she says. “It’s such a great way to slow down, get centered, and simply enjoy each other’s company before the wedding whirlwind hits. Stress is inevitable — we figured we should take our getaway upfront."
Beyond that, she says it was a chance to powwow about those last-minute logistics in a focused way, far from work and other distractions.
Another reason spouses-to-be might opt for a weddingmoon? As an early exercise in compromise — an essential skill they’ll need to hone in their marriage.
“Apart from simply needing a vacation, the reason we went to Jamaica in the months before our wedding is that my fiancé has always wanted to go, but I was set on going to Europe for our honeymoon,” says Jenny Berg, a Chicago-based writer and editor with a wedding planned for August. So carving out time and budget for two special trips was a way for both partners to get what they really wanted.
And it turns out the couple actually bonded over what they might have otherwise considered their differences in travel styles. “I honored his Bob Marley obsession, and he honored my spa obsession. And when he tried his first hot stone massage, he was a goner!” Berg says.
Staff at the Marker Key West, which recently opened in December as the newest luxury hotel in the Key West Historic Seaport, report another twist on the weddingmoon: They see couples visiting as a way to to scope out a destination wedding — or honeymoon — location and accommodations before committing to the venue for the main event.
Officials at the visitors bureau for the domestic getaway destination of Big Sky, Montana also report witnessing a surge in the weddingmoon trend recently — and typically it’s for dates very close to the wedding. Frequently, couples come just ahead of their big day to enjoy the natural splendor with all of their assembled loved ones — rather than just try to visit every table on the big night without much of a chance to connect at the destination.
The multigenerational groups come together for activities like whitewater rafting, zip line, rock climbing, fly fishing, spa — and a high ropes course, which leads to major group bonding and ice breaking among people who might have once been strangers but will soon become family.
“Family and friends love being able to spend time with the bride and groom before the big day, enjoying activities together,” says Visit Big Sky executive director Kitty Clemens.
For a decidedly less family-friendly vibe, the Thompson Miami Beach is marketing to weddingmooners with a “Do Not Disturb” package aimed at spouses-to-be, which includes a mix of traditional couple’s comforts (massage, champagne, breakfast in bed for two), as well as more eyebrow-raising ones (like turndown service with a box of adults-only goodies).
Elsewhere in Miami, Acqualina Resort & Spa also offers a special weddingmoon package with added amenities, like massage, wine tasting, in-room champagne and fruit — as well as a customized personal shopper for last-minute wedding accessories.
A bit farther afield — but still requiring no need for a passport — Hawaii is shaping up to be another popular location for weddingmoons, just as it is a traditional honeymoon spot.
Four Seasons Resorts Lana’i PR director Lori Holland says the property is popular among luxury-loving spouses-to-be who really feel the need to flee stress and unplug as they prepare for their big day.
“We find Lana’i is a destination that draws couples seeking a moment to relax, disconnect, enjoy their time together,” Holland says. “The island has no traffic lights and only 30 miles of paved road. The seclusion allows for our couples to remove themselves from the day-to-day and spend quality time with each other, which in the period leading up to a wedding, can be very welcome — and a great reminder of what's to come.”