Under a shower of rice and cheers from the crowd, the bride and groom duck into a waiting limo before being whisked off to the airport and jetting to some exotic destination with palm trees and umbrella drinks. It’s the kind of stuff that dreams are made of.
However, as romantic as it all sounds, the reality is that many newlyweds are finding it increasingly difficult to pull off a big wedding and then follow it up with the trip of a lifetime right after.
“A good percentage of our clients wait,” said Sarah True, owner and creative director of True Event, a full service wedding and event planning studio based in Madison.
According to True, nearly a third of the couples she works with are deciding to hold off on big honeymoon trips for a variety of reasons including simple lack of time. “Most people wait because of schedules,” she said. “The workplace doesn’t allow for taking three or four weeks at a time.”
And because many couples take time off before the wedding, it can be difficult to take additional time after the big day for an extended honeymoon. So waiting for a few weeks or even months can make sense. “You don’t want to be stressed about missing more time at work. You can check out and not worry about checking email while you’re away and be more present with your new husband or wife.”
Money is another big factor for many newlyweds, who are likely footing some, if not all, of the wedding bill. With the average wedding costing upward of $30,000, adding thousands more for a honeymoon can simply be too much.
“Depending on who is chipping in for the wedding, couples are contributing a lot more to the cost,” said True. “They’re stretched very thin and there’s not enough for a dream trip, too.”
And dream trips are what many brides and grooms are looking for. Not content to drive to Niagara Falls anymore, many couples are choosing to hold off until they have the time and means to travel to big-ticket destinations like Italy, Greece, Fiji and Africa.
Those couples, said True, still go away after their wedding but often limit it to just a few days. “They’ll go local to Vermont or the Hamptons to give themselves some time right away to enjoy being married.” And then when they are able, they take their dream trip.
Christina Morin, owner of Celebrations by Christina, an event planning business in Ellington, also sees a trend in clients holding off on their honeymoons.
For some it’s an economic choice, she said, but for others waiting a while can provide a much-needed break between the big day and a big trip. “I tell my couples to wait a few days, go to the bank, take care of the wedding gown, bring the tux back to the rental and unwind from the whole event. Take a few days to relish that you just got married.”
But she still sees plenty of couples who still choose the more traditional route and leave right after their wedding and said that there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
“It’s how much you want to put on your plate,” she explained. “It’s what you make of your wedding or your honeymoon. There’s no reason why you can’t say, ‘We’re going to wait a little bit.’ “
No matter what option couples choose, Morin recommends using a travel agency to help with the planning. “I always tell my clients to leave it in the hands of a professional,” she said, “and have it done correctly.”
That’s especially important when couples are planning honeymoons in far-off destinations that involve booking multiple flights, hotels and other bookings.
“When you’re talking about a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon, you want to make sure it’s perfect and all the details are pulled together,” said Margaret Sanko, a certified travel counselor with Wilton Center Travel LTD in Wilton. “And most importantly, people should work through a travel agent or agency, to be assured all the details are taken care of.”
Agents can also help couples choose the best times to go in order to avoid peak seasons and high prices. “The cost of travel or a honeymoon often depends on the time of year you’re traveling,” Sanko said.
She went on to say that holiday periods like Christmas or school breaks are among the most expensive times to travel along with summer vacation, a time when many families tend to travel.
“So for honeymooners, during the spring and fall hotels and other places are generally less full and you’ll get a better deal.”
Regardless of when newlyweds take their honeymoon, Sanko recommends planning at least 11 months in advance to get the best prices on airfare along with optimal hotel availability.
No matter when or where the honeymoon is, True offers some final advice to couples.
“Allow yourself to be present with your spouse,” she said. “Really take the time together before life changes to enjoy the reasons you got married.”