The word “honeymoon” first entered the English language in the mid-16th century, but no one knows for certain its etymology. In some languages, the translation is the equivalent of “honey month, ” in reference to the supposed sweet yet fleeting period of bliss that a bride and groom will experience in their initial married weeks together (or one lunar cycle). It’s also possible that “honeymoon” is derived from the Norse word “hjunottsmanathr,” which means “in hiding.” Scandinavian suitors adhered to the practice of kidnapping their brides, plying them with mead, and only returning them to their native village once they were pregnant. Not quite the modern day all-inclusive romance package, is it?
One question I get asked repeatedly is “When should I take my honeymoon?” Traditionally, the happy couple departed immediately post-reception (in Victorian England, only the wealthy partook of bridal tours, and viewed them as a means to see family who couldn’t attend the wedding). But in today’s modern world of fast-paced social media, many marrieds are opting instead to slow down and put some space between the cake-cutting and the chaise-lounging.
I’m an advocate of giving yourself additional time to decompress, whether that’s a day or a summer, because I don’t think the first 24-hours after the wedding are the most honey-ed. I think of that day more like molasses — still sweet and highly enjoyable, but tinged with the darkness of exhaustion. There are vendors to pay, grandparents to see off, presents to transport, pets to board, hangovers to doctor (too much mead), Facebook statuses to update, and most importantly, a forever shift in your coupled status to contend with. Psychologists will tell you that some newlyweds are surprised at how they feel the next day; such an extreme high can make it difficult to readjust to the seemingly mundane acts of packing a toothbrush and a lint roller.
And there are other reasons to consider postponing the honeymoon. If you’re tying the knot in September, and your dream vacation together is on a Caribbean beach, you run the risk of another woman showing up — say Irene or Katia or Ophelia. Atlantic hurricane season is mercurial and unsympathetic. Even if your island of choice doesn’t sustain a direct hit, you might be bombarded with rain.
If you’re anything like me, and you’ve inadvertently exceeded budget in the initial planning (“But honey, look at these save the date cards that transform into white doves!”), it’s important to try and reign it in later. If your heart is set on Paris, and your wedding is in June, know that Europe will be more affordable in the fall. You can fly overseas and stay in an upscale property for less, freeing up your funds for dinner and excursions. Not to mention the shorter museum lines and temperate weather. Initially, it might seem anti-climatic to stave off departure, but your joint bank account will thank you.
Finally, if you’re getting married in a city considered to be a destination wedding for many of your friends and family, you might want to take a “mini honeymoon” before the longer vacation. Dan and I are getting married next July in Manhattan, but since he’s from New York and I’m not, we’ve decided to wait a few weeks before heading to Slovenia and Croatia. I’d like the chance to show my parents the Big Apple and have a leisurely brunch with my bridesmaids. Plus, Dan and I can take advantage of all that the city has to offer. We met in Brooklyn, so a day to ourselves, strolling in the Botanical Gardens, is a perfect opportunity to reconnect alone after the wedding whirlwind.
Whatever you decide, make sure to unplug and enjoy every minute. You’re beginning your honeylife.
Tags: etymology, honeymoon, Norse kidnapping