People travel for love. And love has always been an emotion our industry has done a great job of capitalizing on. But like many aspects of travel, marketplace and societal trends are reshaping how people are thinking about and consuming one of love’s ultimate celebrations—the honeymoon.
Part of this is being driven by the fact that American men and women are waiting longer than ever to get married for the first time. We are now at an all-time high, with woman on average marrying for the first time at age 27.1 and men at age 29.1. The other interesting fact is that nearly one-third of all weddings are remarriages, meaning those couples tend to be even older in age. This later-in-life reality means that marrying couples are more established than ever in their lives and careers, and likely more experienced as travelers as well, all of which impacts how they view and plan their honeymoon experience.
Like the general market, honeymooners are increasingly avoiding the typical and replacing it with the unique. No longer content spending a week on the beach in the usual destinations—many of which they frequented while single—they are looking to fulfill their own definition of adventure and find experiences that they cannot only treasure for a lifetime, but ones they can readily share with their social networks eager to see the loving couple’s first days together.
When you combine this with the increased pressure, costs and stress associated with organizing a wedding, it has resulted in people beginning to plan and take honeymoons in some new and non-traditional ways.
The Weddingmoon. This is the name for pre-wedding travel that helps soon-to-be- married couples relax and stay connected in the hectic weeks prior to the wedding day. Given the fact that most couples are now older and busy balancing wedding planning with their jobs and other life commitments, the days before a wedding are particularly stressful. What better way to bring relief and relaxation to the situation than with a quick weekend escape that offers a much-needed break from the swirl of activity. Whether it’s a couple of nights out of home in a nearby hotel complete with a spa, or an easy-to-get-to retreat on a close-by island, the weddingmoon is proving to be a well-received element in the run-up to the wedding day and has the added benefit of being a welcome reminder of the blissful honeymoon that soon awaits.
The Two Honeymoons. The first one is held right after the wedding and is typically a short stay at a quick-to-get-to destination where the couple can relax and decompress. This is then followed by a longer, more elaborate honeymoon later in the year to someplace more exotic.
For many, this is becoming the preferred option and a necessary way to compartmentalize the wedding and honeymoon experiences. Once the wedding is over, all of that planning time and energy can then be rechanneled into researching and organizing the “ultimate” honeymoon. Of course, some of this is fueled by all the vacation time the bride and groom have often had to take to organize, plan and prepare for the big event. These couples simply don’t have enough days off remaining to take an extended honeymoon. It also reflects the reality that many couples have depleted their finances on the wedding (30% of couples pay for their own wedding), and delaying the honeymoon gives them a chance to refill their coffers and plan something truly grand.
The Contrast Honeymoon. More couples are now dividing their honeymoons into two completely different experiences. For instance, combining resort luxury for part of the trip and perhaps outdoor “glamping” for the remainder. Or a city vacation one half and a white water adventure the other. It’s a way to create a diverse range of more sharable moments and it’s an opportunity for couples to cater to each spouse’s whims without feeling compromised.
The Adventure Moon. We’re hearing about more couples throwing traditional honeymoons to the wind, and instead looking for a safari, mountain climbing, luxury road trip, voluntourism opportunity, or some other experience that fuels a mutual passion and desire to be adventurous and get beyond the ordinary. What better way to start sharing a life together than to check something off your mutual bucket list.
Of course, these shifts in travel behavior aren’t reserved for honeymoons. We’re also seeing pre-wedding activities being reshaped, again reflecting not only the sensibilities of a slightly older and more mature individual, but also the values of their generation.
As you might expect, men are distancing themselves from the alcohol and stripper-infused traditions of the past and now seek to create quality time with close male friends. This might include things like renting a house in the woods for a few days of bonding and reflection. Similarly, for women the days of wearing a faux veil at your bachelorette party and cruising the nightclub scene is being replaced by a concerted move toward the belief that health is the new wealth, with a growing focus on things like weekends of eating well, exercising and a trip to the spa.
The good news for all of us in the travel industry is that these shifts in behavior create expanded opportunities to package our products and appeal to consumers looking for these types of experiences. The fact that many couples are searching for quick, convenient and fun pre- and post-wedding escapes allows virtually every place to now think of itself as a potential honeymoon destination.
What’s not to love about that.
*Originally published on MediaPost.