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Honeymoons: for better and for… even better

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A wedding day has to be “the best day of my life”, for a bride, and in much the same way, a honeymoon has to be “the best trip of our lives” for newlyweds.  Nowadays there are so many destinations to choose from we’ll have to hope young couples will be able to agree!

Some will go straight for the idyllic destination where they can live on love and champagne under the coconut trees.  Others, however, might be tempted by something less conventional that adds a bit of spice to their honeymoon! What are the latest honeymoon trends that will seduce today’s young couples?

The history of the honeymoon

It was in 19th century Victorian England that a strange new fashion emerged: newlyweds started going on short trips after their wedding. Initially, these bridal tours were organized so that the young spouses could visit relatives who had not be able to attend the wedding. However, the practice spread rapidly. People from the countryside journeyed to cities on the pretext of shopping for a few items to furnish their new nest, while others journeyed abroad in search of the Mediterranean sun.

In France, during the Belle Époque, when the honeymoon trend was starting to catch on, authors of guides to good manners didn’t know what to advise: should couples make a quick getaway like the English just after the ceremony, or should they wait a bit, a few days or a few weeks?  In her book Le Monde et ses usages, (The World and its customs), published in 1876, Madame de Waddewille takes offence at the existence of “bride chambers” in the United States; these “very luxuriously furnished” hotel rooms reserved for newlyweds exposed the young couple’s new intimacy to the attention of any passerby.

At the time, the honeymoon and bridal tour were not yet one and the same thing.  The etymology of the word “honeymoon” can be traced as far back as the 16th century , and is steeped in legend.  One version refers to a Babylonian tradition whereby the bride’s father had to serve mead (a drink made from honey) to his son-in-law during the first month of the marriage.  This honey-wine was believed to enhance fertility.

Nowadays, couples traditionally “go away” on honeymoon. This trip usually takes place just after the wedding, even though some couples postpone their departure (it’s never too late to treat yourself to the trip of a lifetime!).  Though the honeymoon was originally very much a Western tradition, the practice has gone global and it is now an absolute must all over the world.

Classic destinations, or a safe bet

Ever since the practice of going on honeymoon began, the most popular destinations have also been the sunniest: the Côte d’Azur in France or Italian cities like Florence, Venice, Verona and Rome. These cities nourish the collective imagination with a host of poetic clichés. It’s always the Italy of Shakespeare and romantic writers like Byron or Stendhal, where every Romeo wants to take his Juliet and where every Juliet hopes to walk hand in hand with her Romeo.

Though it might seem a bit strange to spend one’s honey…moon in the sun, there is some logic behind it.  We could call it a kind of symbolism for these hot climates are associated with the dawn of a young couple’s life. “C’est le temps de l’amour, c’est long et c’est court, ça dure toujours”  (It’s the time of love, it’s long and it’s short, it lasts forever)…

Nowadays, you just have to type the word “honeymoon” into Google’s search engine to realize that there is one trend that tops all the others: it’s the honeymoon on white sand beaches, in the middle of the ocean, where lovers can be completely alone, well, almost!  Islands certainly attract lovers from all over the world. In China, where the practice of going on a honeymoon trip abroad only really started to develop at the beginning of the 2000s, the first couples to go away usually went to Thailand or the Philippines. Then it became fashionable to go to the Maldives and now Mauritius is all the rage (40,000 arrivals in 2013).

A February 2014 survey by online booking site agoda.com  revealed the Maldives as the world’s hottest honeymoon destination (20%). The Greek islands (7.8%) come in second, just ahead of Paris (7.6 %). France’s capital, the ‘ville de l’Amour’ (or city of love), simply cannot be omitted from the list of classic honeymoon destinations! Who hasn’t dreamt of saying “yes” at the top of the Eiffel Tower or of strolling atop Montmartre in a wedding dress at sunset?

Otherwise, there’s always Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps! Even though hundreds of thousands of weddings take place there every year , Las Vegas is still an unlikely honeymoon destination. Isn’t it also known as the “city of sin”? Weddings there are held without ceremony, in a flash and at little expense. You can even have Elvis Presley as your witness in with the deal… However, there might well be no honeymoon the next day, like in the film The Hangover!

Original destinations for incredible, lifelong memories

Every journey is unique. But if there is one journey that should be unlike any other, it’s the honeymoon trip.  Just like marriage, we all hope the honeymoon will last forever! This is why some people choose originality from the outset.

Taking the plunge and getting married seems to have given many young people a taste for adventure! For example, some choose to honeymoon at the North Pole. This is a far cry from the picture-perfect traditional honeymoon, but perhaps some people see those untainted polar landscapes as an ideal way of wiping the slate clean and starting a new life. Other cool honeymooners choose to honeymoon in Antarctica.  Their first stop is Ushuaia in Argentina, the southernmost city on the American continent, from where they can journey to the world’s fifth largest continent and see its icebergs and penguins.

Glamping is also very hip. A contraction of “glamour” and “camping”, it promises all the comforts of luxury hotels with an adventure book backdrop and is the ultimate in eco-tourism. Recently, a young couple, Jennifer and Peter Glas, opted for a round-the-world honeymoon trip in a Unimog, a sort of four-wheel drive truck turned mobile home. They journeyed through south east Europe and on to Turkey, Iran, Dubai, Sri Lanka, India, etc.

A surprising trend is the “buddymoon”, when young couples no longer honeymoon alone! This option bends the rules regarding candle lit dinners and romantic clichés much to the delight of the couple’s friends . The honeymoon becomes a great break with friends and sometimes family is even invited to come along.  Two’s great, but as they say “the more, the merrier!”

The buddymoon is probably the upshot of another growing phenomenon. Indeed, some couples choose to organize everything abroad: not just their honeymoon, but their wedding too. As a result, their guests get to come on the trip too! One of the advantages of this option is that you can enjoy being with your loved ones for longer.  It’s also an opportunity to choose an unusual setting for the wedding photos, for example at sunset under the Apollo Temple entrance arch on the Greek island of Naxos.

As well as all these dream locations, there is the ultimate fantasy honeymoon destination.  Though sadly nobody has yet been able to do more than just promise the moon as a honeymoon destination, it’s good to know that one day we will be able to honeymoon on Mars. Now, that’s a trend that will keep people talking in the years to come!

In the meantime, the important thing is to have a wonderful time together as a couple. Whether it’s a cozy, pampered stay in a luxury hotel complete with spa and gourmet food, or a full-blown adventure, the honeymoon will definitely always be one of the best gifts on the wedding list!

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