When Micah and I talk about our honeymoon, it always ends in bitter laughter. We had good plans, we thought. Here’s a short version of what we planned: We knew we both don’t like beaches and hot weather. So we headed to New England. We knew we wouldn’t want to travel far after the wedding. So we spent two nights only 2 hours away. Then we headed up through Scranton (2 nights) to New Hampshire (9 nights in 2 places). My parents gave us a week in their time-share, which was basically like a little 1-bedroom apartment. It was a relief from the hotel rooms.
We forgot to take into account some important things about ourselves. For starters: we don’t like to travel. At all. Neither of us. I’ve had 2 good vacations (excluding chilling with you Canadians in Toronto, but that was just chilling), Micah’s had 1. We only really like going places if we’re visiting friends or family.
That combined with some stuff I’m not going to go into here made for a rather miserable honeymoon. We managed to cope but it wasn’t fun.
You know what made us happy? Getting home. I was still job hunting, but we were comfortable in our own place. We made a few day trips to DC. We took walks and cooked together and went for coffee and rented movies. That was us.
I’m not saying what was right for our honeymoon will be right for you. But here are some tips I’ve drawn from our experience:
1. You don’t have to take the honeymoon right after the wedding. I think taking a week off to spend together is a good idea. But it doesn’t have to be something elaborate.
There’s a lot of pressure around the wedding. Lots of stress and expectation. Honeymoons bring more expectation—of having a good time, great sex, all that. You’re supposed to be off your head with joy the entire time and that’s a lot of pressure to be dealing with. Going on a honeymoon at a different time lowers those expectations. That would have meant a lot to us!
This also frees you up to have a less conventional wedding date which is a great way to save money and bridal sanity. If you’re a beach person, you can still get married in March or September and plan the honeymoon for later. Everything wedding is easier to book when it’s not the summer and things may actually be cheaper.
And if you don’t have the money for what you really want…take the time to save up for it! Waiting won’t kill you, it may even mean you’ll enjoy yourself more.
2. You don’t have to go at a conventional time of year. Another thing about us…we hate summer. Some people like it, we don’t. We might have been much happier in the fall or spring if we’d traveled at all. We got married two days after our 5-year anniversary of dating, which is why we picked July at all. The summer didn’t affect the happiness of the wedding, but it was a big part of the honeymoon suckiness.
Even if you’re a beach person and getting married in June, you might want to think of putting off the honeymoon. There are enough beaches around the world that you can always find somewhere warm and sunny. If it’s off-season you may get a much better deal as well.
3. Do something instead of a honeymoon. Honeymoons cost a lot. I’m not saying cut out the honeymoon to save money, but if you’re just going on the honeymoon because everyone goes on the honeymoon, why not use the money for something you’d like?
When I look back and consider alternatives (which I don’t do much but have been this week), I know something that would have made me very happy. Going to NYC for just one night to see a Broadway play/musical. Or heck, for the price of the honeymoon make it two nights and two plays! Then coming back to DC and chilling at our apartment, taking walks, seeing monuments, going for coffee, borrowing movies from the library, all that fun stuff. Basically what we did after the honeymoon without the pressure of job-hunting.
That would have made me so happy. We couldn’t afford 2 weeks in New York, but 2 nights & plays wouldn’t have broken the budget…and we’d already paid the rent down here. Getting around in DC is quite cheap (metro!!) and many attractions are free.
Hopefully we’ll still get that trip in a few years. Remember that even if your wedding or honeymoon ends up sucking it doesn’t mean your marriage will, or that you can’t plan fun things in the future.
4. Know yourself. This is critical in all parts of life, but especially when planning weddings. Know what it is you really want. When you get married, everything is expected to fall into special patterns that fit our current culture.
If you don’t think those current patterns fit the two of you, then screw it! Getting married, going on the honeymoon is a time for YOU to celebrate the beginning of your life together. You don’t have to wear white or have attendants or favors or a reception. You don’t have to go someplace right after the wedding. You don’t have to spend $20,000.
Be courteous and hospitable to your guests, but do what makes the two of you happy. Your guests should be able to cope with a non-cookie cutter wedding as long as they’re fed and have places to sit. They might even prefer it. Your friends should respect your choice to go back to work right after the wedding or to hang around your apartment.
The one place where we knew ourselves (besides the wedding/reception, which was fun!) was right afterwards. We went back to my parents’ house to change and then went out to Border’s for coffee and books. Spent a couple hours there before heading out. That was the happiest part of my honeymoon. Just doing what we’ve found fun for the last few years and still find fun.
Any tips on how not to honeymoon? Some things that made your honeymoon better?
Some of us will go on to post more on Wednesday (or Thursday!) because we have a couple good ideas, so check back then. They’ll be turned into an e-book pretty soon too.