The Return of the Dream Honeymoon

Mini-moons and short road trips to explore local destinations may still be trending, but couples are also back to booking proper romantic getaways in faraway places.

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When Kalyn and Collin Pounders finally went on their honeymoon to Greece in July after delaying it for more than a year because of the pandemic, they were ready to splurge. The couple, who live in Atlanta and married in June 2020, extended their trip so that they were able to visit Mykonos and Santorini islands, got a nicer room at the hotel they had booked and even went on a private cruise.

At first, Ms. Pounders, 25, wasn’t planning on taking the advice of her friends, who told her that this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and that she shouldn’t hold back on luxuries. But that’s exactly how she and Mr. Pounders, 27, ended up approaching the vacation after the months of waiting and pandemic hardship. “We’re really glad we took that advice,” said Ms. Pounders, who works as a clinical pharmacist. Her husband is an investment analyst. “We’ve waited for this, we worked really hard in between,” she said, “and when the time finally came, we were like ‘Why not? We deserve it.'”

After the pandemic forced a halt for many honeymoons, this summer has shown indications that they’re back — and bigger and splashier than ever before. The Travel Siblings, a New York-based travel consultancy that focuses on romantic trips, saw its honeymoon bookings, as of July, quadruple since last year. More than 70 percent of couples who married last year went on or are planning to go on a post-wedding getaway, a figure that is up almost 20 percent from 2020 and back to prepandemic levels, according to a recent report from WeddingWire.

The Pounders are far from alone in forgetting frugality on their postponed honeymoon. “We absolutely can say that honeymoons are back with both a passion and a vengeance,” said Harlan deBell, an owner of the Travel Siblings. Kara Bebell, also an owner, added: “Since many couples have had to postpone their wedding dates several times, they are splurging more on hotel upgrades and private romantic experiences.” Before the pandemic, the company’s clients typically spent around $16,000 on a honeymoon trip. Now they are seeing that couples who had to postpone their original honeymoons are spending more than $20,000.

“It’s business class and it’s the better hotel in Santorini,” Mr. deBell said. “I think they’re appreciating life more and seeing that splurge as really sort of a self healing.”

Of course, we’re still in a time in which couples are getting creative with planning smaller-scale trips, as well. While restrictions remain in place for farther-flung parts of the world, mini-moons have also been on the rise during the pandemic, Ms. Bebell noted, with couples taking shorter trips to locations like South Carolina or Georgia. Or they’re sticking even closer to home with the so-called nanomoon, which is “trending right now,” according to Ms. Bebell. (“Vineyards, beaches, anything outdoorsy,” she said, are the typical backdrop for these trips.) But many couples who’ve settled for a mini-moon or nanomoon, short road trips to explore local destinations, in the interim are also planning full-on honeymoons for next year.

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Verlinda Vu and Rainier Dalusag, who postponed their original honeymoon to Europe, decided on a minimoon to Puerto Rico and Mexico. The couple hope to travel to Europe for their anniversary. Credit…Flytographer, Puerto Rico

Verlinda Vu and Rainier Dalusag of Seattle, who originally had their wedding planned for May 2020, ended up having a ceremony without a reception this February. And because Europe’s borders remained closed to travelers from the United States at the time, they decided to have a minimoon in Mexico and Puerto Rico following the ceremony, instead of their planned honeymoon to Spain and Portugal. “It was tough because everything was just changing,” said Mr. Dalusag, 31, a health informatics analyst. “We had a big plan, but then there was a lockdown, and it was just a huge domino effect. We didn’t know what was going to happen and we just tried to make the best out of the situation.” But that doesn’t mean they have abandoned their dream. “Hopefully sometime in the future, maybe for our one- or two-year anniversary, we can do our original plan,” said Ms. Vu, 30, a registered nurse.

Other couples have been determined to have their perfect getaways, even if that has meant dealing with all manner of restrictions and travel hiccups.

Before their engagement, Hannah and Teddy Gates of Chicago had both agreed that it would be a goal to attend all four Grand Slam tennis tournaments in their lifetime. They were married this past June, and as part of their honeymoon, they went to Wimbledon and even paid to get privately provided Covid tests to shorten their quarantine time. “Not only did our wedding symbolize our next chapter as husband and wife, but Wimbledon was the first of four majors we hope to attend together,” said Ms. Gates, 29, a senior shopping specialist at Google.

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Hannah and Teddy Gates, who traveled to London, Comporta, Portugal and Marrakesh, Morocco, on their honeymoon, said keeping up with the Covid restrictions while traveling was worth the hassle.

After Wimbledon, she and Mr. Gates, 30, an industrial brokerage vice president at CBRE, went to Comporta, Portugal and Marrakesh, Morocco. En route from the United Kingdom to Portugal, they had to miss their flight because they didn’t have digital proof of vaccination, like many European travelers did. They only had their physical vaccine cards, which Ms. Gates said an airline employee looked at like it was a “sad Post-it Note.” Luckily, since they had both been vaccinated through a Walgreens, they realized they could show digital proof of vaccination through their app. (Worth noting for those who were not immunized at a place that makes it relatively easy to access your electronic records: You can now often access the information through your state’s department of health website, depending on where you live.) They were let on to the next flight after the unexpected hassle.

Traveling to three different countries meant constantly having to keep up with different sets of restrictions and rules, while getting lots of Covid tests, but it was well worth it, they said. “We wanted so badly to do this trip, and yes it took a little bit more work, but it was 110 percent worth it,” Ms. Gates said. “Dreams were truly made on this trip. I affectionately call it our adventure honeymoon, and we loved every piece of it.”

Another inevitable piece of the dream honeymoon: careful photo documentation. (After all, if you’re putting forth such extra effort and money to actually make your honeymoon happen these days, you’re going to want to get keepsake pictures of it.) And indeed, the company Flytographer, which focuses on finding local photographers for people on vacation, has started to see a recovery for honeymoon photo shoot bookings this year, with Hawaii (Maui, Honolulu, Kona and Kauai), Greece (Santorini) and Mexico (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas and Tulum) as especially popular regions.

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Nicole Faron and James Walmsley traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands for their honeymoon in June.Credit…Nicole in St. Croix for Flytographer

Nicole Faron and James Walmsley of Durham, N.C., were among those newlyweds eager to both upgrade and permanently capture their honeymoon. Ms. Faron, 31, a health care director at UNC Health, and Mr. Walmsley, 36, a software analyst at First Citizens Bank, eloped and went on a honeymoon at the end of June to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Initially, they were only planning on going to St. Thomas and St. John, but they added in a day trip to St. Croix when they saw that Flytographer had a photographer stationed there. “Having professional photos that we can share is really nice,” said Ms. Faron, adding that, for such a major life event, you want friends and family to be a part of it in a way — “to be able to give them some of that experience.” Plus, she and her husband got to go on a seaplane on the way over to St. Croix.

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