The dark history of honeymoons

AH, the honeymoon. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to get away with your new husband or wife and bask in wedded bliss in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora.

But despite the modern day concept of intimacy and seclusion, honeymoons haven't always been so exotic - or enjoyable.

In fact, honeymoons have a horrible history.


The idea of a "honeymoon" dates back as far as the fifth century in a number of European cultures including Welsh, German and Scandinavian when time was measured in moon cycles.

At their wedding couples were presented with a "moon" (or roughly one month) worth of mead which was an alcoholic honey wine to drink together. Mead was believed to be an aphrodisiac and so couples were expected to binge on wine for 30 days to get drunk enough to establish sexual intimacy.

It was then hoped that the couple would conceive their first child during this time. So many historians believe the term "honeymoon" was born from this concept: it's a moon's worth of honey wine.


Yes, kidnapping. According to some historians, the honeymoon is a relic of "marriage by capture" where the groom would hide his kidnapped bride away for months until their family stopped looking for them or they became pregnant, at which point it was considered too late for the marriage to be nullified.

It is believed some poorer men did this to avoid having to pay the woman's family a dowry in areas such as China, South America, East and South Asia, Africa and some European gypsy communities. A far less romantic getaway immediately after the wedding.


While these days couples marry for love, historically most weddings weren't about romance. They were about class and inheritance.

Because there was no need for the couple to be alone together, they would use the honeymoon experience to take a "bridal tour" to visit friends and family who couldn't make the wedding. Spending your honeymoon visiting your in-laws at their place doesn't seem like the ideal post-wedding getaway does it?


Thankfully, the honeymoon concept has grown into a much more luxury affair.

The Easy Weddings' annual Australian wedding survey revealed in 2015 that 91.4 per cent of all newlyweds went on a honeymoon, with 51 per cent of those jetting off immediately after their wedding.

The most popular destinations for Aussie couples are USA/Hawaii, Fiji, Europe and then Thailand, with couples spending an average of $7500 for the trip (excluding spending money) for an eight night stay, according to Bride To Be magazines "Cost of Love" survey.

But honeymoons are changing. No longer are they just about lounging by the pool or drinking cocktails. Couples are doing it differently.

Here are just some of the latest honeymoon trends inspiring couples to think outside the box.

1. Two honeymoons

With the skyrocketing cost of weddings these days, many couples are choosing to go on a shorter (and less expensive) mini-moon right after their wedding usually comprising of a domestic trip for a few days followed by a longer trip a few months (or even up to a year) later.

2. YOLO honeymoons

Travel agents are reporting couples are adopting the "you only live once" mantra and are blowing their budgets even further by chasing that insta-worthy trip of a lifetime. They're going on longer, more exotic and more expensive trips to secluded luxury destinations such as Bora Bora, the Maldives and Tahiti that would have once been considered totally out of reach.

Some are even renting a private island to show off to their friends on social media.

3. Road trips and campervans

Rather than plonking themselves on a deckchair for a few days, many couples are now choosing to hire a car and get out on the open road visiting multiple destinations along the way.

Highway One on the Californian Coast, Route 66 in the US, New Zealand and Europe are all popular spots to hit the highway.

4. Volunteer honeymoons

A growing number of couples are now choosing to share their good fortune with those less fortunate by volunteering and doing charity work for a project or organisation. "Voluntourism" is now spreading to honeymoons with multiple companies such as Hands Up Holidays offering a life changing experience to new couples, with an enriching and fulfilling volunteer experience in countries such as Nepal, Thailand and Borneo.

5. Wellness holidays

Wellness is a growing trend for holidays in general so it's no surprise the concept is having a flow on effect into honeymoons.

Whether it's booking into a wellness retreat to relax from the stress of the lead up to the big day, or choosing a destination in which to embrace hiking and getting outdoors, couples are becoming more and more in touch with their health and wellbeing and reflecting this in their romantic post-wedding getaway.

Continue the conversation with Alison Stephenson (who is about to get married herself) on Twitter @ali_stephenson

News Corp Australia

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