A message to anyone in the middle of wedding planning, from the other side of experience: consider the mini-moon.
“Mini-moon” is millennial-shorthand for a quick trip taken immediately following the wedding, putting off a longer, more far-flung honeymoon for a later date. While it may start off as a plan B for couples who run out of time or money planning their wedding day, there are plenty of reasons to recommend the mini-moon in its own right. Based on my own recent experience, the mini-moon is an once-in-a-lifetime bit of magic not to be missed. Here's why…
The number one reason to say yes to the mini-moon is the unexpected bounty of leftovers. The flowers, decorations, and food from the wedding can all have a second act, but the trick is getting them to your next destination. Saying yes to a mini-moon, typically local and low-key, means that you can pack up a car and take leftovers with you on your trip.
The entire cabin had a floral perfume and we spent the week surrounded by beautiful blooms.
After my wedding, we packed bridesmaids' bouquets and centerpieces with our luggage and drove two hours to a cabin tucked in the foothills of the Adirondacks, a wilderness expanse in northern New York. We stuck big bunches of Juliet garden roses and peach ranunculuses in vases all over the kitchen and the living room and set up centerpieces at the foot of the bed. The entire cabin had a floral perfume and we spent the week surrounded by beautiful blooms. I was thrilled to get to enjoy the flowers for an entire week instead of just one day. I also strung up a gold-lettered hanging banner that read “Happily Ever After” that I had used at the breakfast the morning after the wedding and a few gold pennant banners that added a festive touch.
Leftover wedding food was another unanticipated gift. The caterer offered us tons of extra food at the end of the night and we happily accepted. We took a stack of to-go boxes and snacked off of entrees and sides the rest of the week. In the morning we woke up to a choice of pain au chocolat or sweet almond croissants from the good-bye breakfast, and at night we worked our way through heaps of aromatic curry rice and roast vegetables. Making the wedding feast last multiple days freed us from the obligation to cook or even leave the cabin if we didn't feel like it. Like most couples, we barely had a moment to eat at the reception so it was wonderful to get time to really appreciate the food we'd spent so much time picking out in the months beforehand.
My personal favorite in the bonus food category was the extra cake. The caterer had set aside the entire top tier of our three level cake for us. Tradition aside, I'd heard enough warnings about freezer-burn on the cake topper at the one year anniversary to know that the time to enjoy it was while it was still fresh. So the first night of the mini-moon that was all we ate, savoring every bite of rich buttercream frosting and perfectly fluffy white cake.
Between the extra nights of decadent wedding food, the flowers, and the leftover cake, we ate better and lived richer that week in the woods on a shoe-string budget than we have on many more extravagant vacations, all at no extra cost.
The end of planning and stress
With so much to do to prepare for the big day planning a honeymoon can quickly go from dream fulfillment to just one more thing on an ever-growing to-do list. In the best circumstances, vacation planning is half of the fun of the trip. When you lack the time or the mental energy to devote to it, however, it can be exhausting.
The mini-moon is the best, most sanity-restoring gift you can give yourself. It is the inverse of and the antidote to the crushing wedding stress that plagues so many modern couples. In one fell swoop you can collapse a whole section of your to-do list: no more booking multiple flights, hotels, and excursions or packing heavy bags. Book a cabin or a bed-and-breakfast and forget about the honeymoon until you arrive at your destination.
Tips for success: go someplace close by the wedding venue, no more than a few hours drive. Air travel is strongly discouraged, what with the stress of the TSA line and the possibility of cancellations and delays. Consider going someplace you've already been, returning to a place you both loved and wished you could've spent more time. That way you don't have to plan anything at all.
It felt like the universe's reminder of how good life can be even when you don't spend hours and hours orchestrating every moment.
For us, the mini-moon was a week of hiking, canoeing, and reading on a porch overlooking the still waters of a private pond. We didn't plan a single thing before we got there, but luckily the cabin we rented had a whole shelf of dog-eared guidebooks to local hikes and waterways. We woke up the first morning and set to work browsing through the most enticing volumes over coffee. Previous guests had turned down the pages featuring the hikes closest to our lodge and had scribbled personalized tips in the margins for sights to keep a look out for.
It felt like the universe's reminder of how good life can be even when you don't spend hours and hours orchestrating every moment. It really felt like the reverse of wedding planning: free food and flowers, no one to impress, and no makeup all week. I've never needed it more.
You still have a honeymoon to look forward to
Last but not least, the mini-moon allows you to come back home after the wedding is all done and over with and still have something left to look forward to. Rather than adding to the mountains of wedding stress by trying to take care of all of the details for the honeymoon before the big day, you can wait and actually get to enjoy the process of planning and preparing. Give yourself time to dream about your perfect honeymoon, time to save up for it, and time to plan. The added perk is that you get to extend your wedding bliss into a whole new season by waiting to take the honeymoon.
The real open secret of the mini-moon is that you actually get two honeymoons and both are fantastic in totally different ways. On the mini-moon you get to relive the best moments of the wedding while they're still fresh in your mind and celebrate the great fortune of finding each other, clinking your glasses in private toasts to your new life all week long. After throwing yourself into planning a memorable wedding and juggling tons of different details it is refreshing to spend the next few days just unwinding, sleeping in, and spending tons of time with your new spouse. Then, in a few months you get to take a big trip together, explore the world side-by-side and make new memories. With so much to do and see, two trips are definitely better than one.
Comments on 3 reasons to book a mini-moon after the wedding
My partner’s sister and her fiance decided they didn’t want the hassle of planning a big wedding, and chose to get married during an upcoming trip to New Zealand (which most of the family was going on anyway). They had the ceremony the day after we landed, and everyone enjoyed a week of skiing (their favourite activity) afterwards. It was exactly them in every way – relaxed, to the point, and focused on fun! Best of all, we got to eat wedding cake every single day of the trip; every morning we all stuffed our pockets with cake to snack on between ski runs. (And even then, we only got through the first tier, and had to throw the other two tiers away before going home.)
It was such a wonderful experience for everyone, and has made me strongly consider a similar arrangement for my own wedding; get married somewhere a little further from home, and enjoy a week of sightseeing immediately afterwards! It’s so awesome to know this arrangement has its own adorable name!
Great article, and definitely something to consider! It can be much more convenient to have a mini-moon, especially if the couple needs to get back to work, or if there are budget constraints. And it gives plenty more time to plan for a grander honeymoon! Thanks for sharing!
Seconded! We booked an AirBnB an hour away for a few nights after our weekend wedding. Between our host giving us fresh eggs and milk, the gift of a food hamper from a friend, and leftover booze from the wedding… we were well fed and pampered without leaving the house. Plus it was amazing to open cards and gifts together to keep the warm fuzzies going.
And yep, still have another holiday to look forward to!
I definitely agree, mini-moons rock. We stayed a couple of nights in a lodge less than 30 minutes’ drive away. It wasn’t far, it wasn’t for long, it wasn’t amazingly fancy (although it did have its own hot tub – score!), but it was so great to have a mini-holiday and take some time out. We also had a lot of leftovers 😀
You could just stay at home and unwind, but then you’ll fall into your normal routine, have a ton of things to do, and it won’t feel like a break. A physical change of scenery really helps you stop running around like a demented organiser. You also don’t need to go straight from the wedding – I’ve never understood why people go straight from their wedding venue to their honeymoon destination: no break in between just seems like unnecessary stress.
It depends on your circumstances, but I found having a day or two between the wedding and the mini-moon helped. It’s easier to do all the organising for the wedding and then have time after to think about what to pack etc for the mini-moon, so they are two separate events and you’re not trying to do everything at once. Otherwise you might get to your holiday place and realise you’ve forgotten something important because you were too busy stressing about remembering things for the wedding. We had a load of stuff to bring back from the venue, like table cloths, so it was also less stressful to get everything home and packed away before leaving for a break. Otherwise it would’ve all been waiting for us to deal with when we got back, which is not such a fun end to a de-stress holiday.
Our mini-moon ended up being a real unexpected highlight for us. We couldn’t get enough time off work immediately after the wedding for our two week trip to the US (we’re Brits), so our honeymoon was planned for a month later, but I found the idea of going straight back to work on the Monday after the wedding really depressing. So we booked just two days off, and on Sunday afternoon (the day after the wedding, and also my birthday!) drove 2 hours up to the Yorkshire Dales to stay in a pretty B&B in the middle of nowhere. I’m from around that area so we knew it would be a great place to relax. Being introverts who had loved our wedding but also found the process pretty overwhelming, we just wanted to spend a couple of days alone in the countryside!
We usually do airbnb for mini breaks, but after the wedding all I wanted was to be looked after and not have to think about cooking etc, so it was a real treat to have a full English every morning and tea and cake provided in the afternoon! The staff were delighted that we were there on mini-moon, and went the extra mile to make sure it was special.
We’d brought most of our cards and smaller presents with us, so spent the Sunday evening in bed opening them, drinking champagne, and laughing and crying at what people had written in our cards and guest book. The next couple of days we spent exploring tiny villages and rolling hills, eating, reminiscing, and generally feeling completely euphoric.
It felt much nicer going back to work having had some time together to relax and decompress, and as others have commented, the organisation of the last bits of the main honeymoon were then much less fraught. Would definitely recommend – we put aside a small proportion of our honeymoon budget to cover it, but that precious time was worth its weight in gold 🙂
Yep, we’re planning to drive an hour or two away right after our wedding and spend the night and next day someplace cozy and quiet to revel in our married-ness and decompress. We hope that, in a few years, we’ll have the time and money to do a more elaborate trip, but we’re really excited for even a one-night getaway. (And are lucky to live someplace where there are a million beautiful, quiet places to go very close by.)
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