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.